Chatbots are one of the many great promises of Information technology. They were conceived as a new interface to replace or complement applications or visits to a website by allowing users to interact with a service simply through a chat.
How do they work?
These computer programs generally referred to as “bots,” can process natural language and provide answers to user questions.
However, these answers do not always come in the form of text, but sometimes in concrete actions, such as revealing a video when a user asks for it, showing a photo, making a purchase, making an appointment, and much more.
For this reason, some industries, notably retail, customer service, and even banking, are adopting this technology, allowing their users to operate their systems as efficiently as if they were having a chat with a human to respond to an order or request.
The advancement of this technology is that companies like Facebook have introduced APIs that allow brands to integrate bots into their Messenger and use them to communicate with their customers. But there is an additional area where chatbots could have significant capacity, which is Education and Learning.
ChatBots in Education
For decades, it has been known that each student in the same class has different learning needs and interests. Therefore, each of them can benefit from the help of a specialized tutor.
Unfortunately, this kind of service is not available even at the most expensive universities in the world.
What is the most valuable and cost-effective alternative to solve this problem?
Chatbots for Education.
In most cases, can use chatbots to deliver introductory lectures. The goal is that chatbots can serve as virtual advisors, adapting to the students’ abilities. To put it simply, they adapt to their learning pace.
On the other hand, new proposals want chatbots to work as vertical tutors and participate in a dialogue with each student. This way, they can meet with them and know in which subjects they need help.
Advantages of using a ChatBot
The most critical function of chatbots lies in their ability to identify the user’s intention. Based on this identification, the chatbot extracts relevant data from the request. However, if you cannot understand the user’s request, you will not give the correct answer.
Once the intent is identified, the chatbot needs to provide the most appropriate response to the user’s request, which can be as follows
- a generic and predefined text response
- a context using data provided by the user
- data stored in databases
- a specific action (the chatbot interacts with one or more applications)
The main benefits of using chatbots for businesses or in other areas are:
- Reduction in the cost of staff providing customer service.
- Immediate support and answers for users
- Better user experience
- Ability to learn about user preferences through the use of Artificial Intelligence systems
- Easy integration with different digital platforms without the need to download applications or additional programs.
Applications for chatbots in education
It is becoming increasingly common for students at all grade levels to use messaging services to interact and occasionally with their teachers.
These are standard attributes in platforms such as Google Classrooms and other class management systems and enable exchanges that aim to ask questions and get answers that support the learning process outside the classroom.
Similarly, more and more MOOCs and other online courses provide access to forums and communication systems that allow for consultation and discussion with teachers and other colleagues.
According to various studies, having critical discussions about the learning content enables a better understanding and enhances the learning process.
Chatbots could replicate this process on a large scale by creating channels where students can discuss any topic with an “expert,” ask questions and draw conclusions that improve their understanding of different topics.
This is the point of view of Bill Gates, who recently gave an interview to The Verge. He explained the advantages of these systems in personalizing education and achieving better results.
According to the Microsoft founder, his learning technique has always been to seek out people who know even more about particular topics than he does and ask them questions to find answers or confirm his points of view.
This way of absorbing knowledge, he explained, can be accessible to everyone thanks to chatbots. According to him, they can become virtual experts on different topics and become mentors and learning partners for students of all levels, helping them understand and develop each topic at their own pace, asking what is needed, and creating positive sharing spaces that allow students to share more knowledge.
These are several of the innovations that chatbots can offer in virtual education:
It detects the emotional state of the students, which, when recognized by the chatbots, can change the answer with a linguistic adaptation or even a joke.
Personalized learning that adapts to the rhythm of the student, depending on their needs and specific requirements. This allows for a more direct orientation when conveying information or answering questions related to a course.
It allows the teacher to reduce the time invested in organizing and completing tasks, as chatbots provide instant answers to common student questions that have been previously designed.
The time saved can be invested in research or upcoming projects for the course and mentoring and motivating the group.
Store and analyze data effectively when reviewing student assessments and progress. As a result, using Artificial Intelligence helps students organize their time and assign tasks according to their goals in an effective and accessible way.
The automated learning tool focuses on education and interaction and does not consider the student’s resources, language, or location. It can be viewed as something like a “democratization of learning.”
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