From student admissions to teaching assistance, universities worldwide are starting to use AI-powered chatbots to optimize several aspects of the student engagement process. So, the pressing question is: Are chatbots the future of higher education?
Artificial intelligence, like all popular technologies, has permeated every sector and aspect of human life and chatbots are some of the most successful implementations of AI. More and more universities and institutions worldwide are enlisting virtual assistants to manage student enrolment functions, classroom learning, and other routine tasks around the university. While the incorporation of AI-tech is raising concerns among some in the higher education community, most believe that another technological revolution is not far and universities need to prepare for the onslaught of tech-savvy generations.
There are constant experiments and trials being conducted with new technologies by institutions worldwide. Here are some universities that are ahead of the curve:
Stanford isn't among the top 5 universities worldwide for nothing. In 2019, Stanford created a chatbot to promote self-paced learning among students. They named their chatbot,"QuizBot" and proved that it was considerably more effective than flashcards in helping students learn and retain information. They conducted a study among students that showed that students spent more than 2.6 times longer studying with QuizBot versus standard flashcards.
Georgia State University brought in a conversational assistant,"Pounce", to boost their university's student engagement. GSU was seeing a considerable increase in their summer melt which went from 12% to nearly 19% in a few years' time. That was when they decided to bring in a virtual assistant for GSU admissions. It was created to help students with their admission process from start to end. Pounce works 24/7 to answer students' questions and sends timely reminders, relevant information about enrollment tasks, and collects key survey data to better help the students.
With the implementation of Pounce, Georgia State University observed that they could handle 10 times the number of questions asked by the newly enrolled students. This unconventional addition to the enrolment process actually earned GSU the Excalibur Award For Deployment Of Innovative Admissions Technology.
NYU came up with a relatively simple yet, highly effective virtual assistant that would answer students' questions around the clock. "BobChat" as it is cutely named, is a chatbot that is backed by a helpful support team and is powered by the Facebook Messenger.
In the last few years, some travel restrictions issued on countries such as Syria, Sudan, Somalia, and Iran, caused several problems for university students. NYU decided to bypass human restrictions and turned to AI technology. iSchoolConnect was brought in to develop an auto-intelligent travel monitoring chatbot for New York University to help NYU students facing problems entering the United States. This allowed NYU to track internationally traveling students, and help them in case of any emergencies, and to provide assurance of support to anxious travelers.
At Carnegie Mellon, the researchers initially came up with "Chorus", a conversational assistant that was dependent upon crowdsourcing. With Chorus, a group of crowd workers would collectively chat with students and try to solve any problems the students might have.
CMU soon leveraged Artificial intelligence to create "Evorus", an upgraded version of Chorus. The function of the Evorus remained the same as Chrous, which is to answer most student queries with ease. However, it was better than its predecessor in that Evorus's artificial intelligence system was constantly trained by humans thus, making it gradually less dependent on people.
This university started 2020 with the successful launch of "AskNigel". It is a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence as well as the information from the whole UNG website to assist students and help them find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. The university states, "The more the chatbot is used, the smarter the AI will become, and the bigger its "brain" will be. At launch, it had almost 7,000 questions in its brain.".
The chatbots or virtual assistants set forth by the aforementioned universities to help, assist, and gather data from these students are just the tips of the proverbial iceberg. Recently, Northeastern University and Arizona State University tested some other applications of AI. They experimented with dorm room voice-activated devices that would answer any questions students might have about things like dining hall menus and campus activities.
The University of Texas at Austin, for example, uses AI to manage its landscape sprinklers, saving both water and money. Santa Clara University uses AI to help manage campus parking. The University of Michigan is one of several institutions that are testing the use of driverless campus buses.
With research in education technology being conducted at breakneck speed, the presence of AI in higher education is only going to increase. The upcoming generations demand technology and the institutions are clearly providing. iSchoolConnect assists several institutions and organizations to update their end-to-end admissions process using our AI-powered use cases. AI is the future and we're ready for it. Are you?