Education technology – aka EdTech – is on the verge of changing how students learn, both inside and outside the classroom. The chatbot revolution promises a new kind of learning experience for students and we’re already starting to see its early impact.
From eLearning bots to virtual classroom assistants, we’re seeing a new potential for personalised learning resources that cater to individual needs, while automating various tasks for the teacher frees up more time which they can use to focus on the students.
The most obvious application of chatbots in education is an interactive eLearning experience. Imagine a bot that tests students’ Spanish conversation skills using voice recognition, asking them a series of questions based on their current level. Suddenly, every student is able to participate in their own personalised language test that simulates real-life conversation.
It’s not limited to language learning either. A bot can test students on any subject, keep track of their results and build a more accurate picture of their progress. A teacher simply can’t provide this kind of one-on-one experience in a classroom full of pupils by themselves. Chatbots are making this possible for the first time – in a non-invasive way for the students.
Chatbots in EdTech aren’t there to replace teachers but rather to empower them to get more from their students. To show the power of chatbots and what kind of role they can play, computer science professor Ashok Goel made the news by developing a chatbot classroom assistant.
The amazing thing is, he chose not to tell his students that they were talking to a piece of software and they were none the wiser.
The bot, which Goel named Jill Watson, handled questions about essay deadlines, word counts and other single-answer queries. This kind of always-on assistant means students have access to vital pieces of information at all times. It can also be used to send reminders, provide updates and other mini-interactions.
Crucially, it means human teachers and assistants don’t need to handle these basic tasks, so they can focus on handling more pressing matters for their students.
The most exciting thing about chatbots in education is the prospect of creating a personalised learning experience for every student. Students by nature learn at different speeds and benefit from certain methods more than others. This is a real problem for teachers who need to try and provide the best learning experience for a full class of students.
The one-to-one connection chatbots are able to provide is changing this. Powered by artificial intelligence and/or machine learning, chatbots will soon be creating personalised learning experiences for individual students.
These are platforms pupils can take anywhere and it’s our responsibility to make them engaging enough that they want to use them outside of the classroom. By gamifying the learning process and putting milestones/achievements every step of the way, the aim is to create a new kind of incentive to learn.
Chatbot technology may be young, but it’s already making waves in the education sector. Speak to any teacher and they’ll tell you how little time they have to spend with pupils one-on-one. Chatbots are not only freeing up more time by automating certain teacher tasks, but also empowering them with more information about their students so they can get more from the time they do spend together.
If you want to learn more about chatbots, check out our guide which covers a whole range of questions, including:
Chris is Managing Director at Vertical Leap and has over 25 years' experience in sales and marketing. He is a keynote speaker and frequent blogger, with a particular interest in intelligent automation and data analytics. In his spare time, he enjoys playing the guitar and is a stage manager at the Victorious Festival.
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