Higher Education Chatbot – How Bots Can Solve Challenges in the Online Higher Educational Environment
Higher educational institutes offering online courses have come a long way over the past few years. But the fact remains that promoting, conducting and managing courses via the internet pose a unique set of challenges. Let’s run you through some of these challenges, and take a peek at how higher education chatbots can make it easier to overcome them.
Chatbot Challenge 1: Catering to a mobile-first audience
Practically every industry has had to revamp its approach to sales and marketing recently, to better address an audience of mobile-first millennials who want instant, on-demand solutions. The higher education sector has an especially challenging situation on its hands, because of its relatively young, tech-savvy audience. Prospective applicants and existing students expect support via instant messaging, as opposed to more time-taking phone calls and emails. And even more so when they’re taking online courses.
In order to make a favorable impression on its target market, online higher educational institutes need to offer their applicants the option of opening up a chat window, and getting instant answers to basic questions like:"What’s the duration of your computer science course?""Do I need to install any software on my computer to be able to take your classes?""How can I pay the course fee?"
Building higher education chatbots for their websites allows higher educational institutes to give their applicants quick and accurate information about their online courses, whenever they choose to ask for it.
Chatbot Challenge 2: Keeping students interested
Online higher educational institutes don’t have the advantage of a physical campus where students actually meet and interact with their colleagues and instructors. By extension, there is no semblance of an actual "campus life" that is so central to the college or university experience. Students taking online courses are left to their own devices, to plan and implement their academic exercises on their own.
Over time, the absence of direct interaction with their peers and instructors can make it difficult for these students to stay motivated, especially if they’ve registered for long-term online courses. E-learning institutes can create a chatbot to take care of this. Higher education chatbots can be programmed into online courses in a way that students find them at key junctures. For example, when someone’s about to take an online test, they can have a conversation like the one below.
Chatbot: "Hello, I’m here to help you get started on your test. Could you enter your enrollment ID so I can create a log for you?"
Student enters their enrollment ID.
Chatbot: "Thanks! I can see that you’ve completed 2 out of 6 deliverables. Well done! Do you have any questions before I start your online test?"
Student: "When is the deadline for assignment 4?"
Chatbot: "Deliverable 4 (customer survey) is due on [Date 1]. If you require an extension, you can apply for it before [Date 2] and you won’t be charged. Is there anything else I can help you with before the test?"
Student: "No thanks."
Chatbot: "Great, I’ll start your test. Please make sure you’ve read the rules on this link, and click the ‘start’ button once you’re ready. Good luck!"
Chatbot Challenge 3: Addressing a wide variety of student needs
Online courses typically attract students from multiple age groups, educational backgrounds, and walks of life. This means that as compared to a university with a physical campus, the average e-learning institute has a much more random mix of student profiles.
These students have different learning rates, grasping powers, language skills, and so on. In order to keep them all engaged, the e-learning institute will need to address their specific needs and understanding levels. Another job tailored for a higher education chatbot.
In the example above, we’ve already illustrated how building chatbots can make students of online courses feel at ease and more motivated. The best chatbots for online higher education courses can extend the same level of effectiveness to each and every student, allowing them to feel like they’re a part of a virtual community or ‘campus’.
Chatbot Challenge 4: The need for standardization
Each student enrolled in an online course has received their prior training from a different set of instructors, who in turn had unique teaching and evaluation methods. Now, when so many students from different schools register for the same online course, they’ll have different takes on how to approach the same task. Higher education chatbot development can address this. Institutes that create a chatbot for managing online courses give their remote students a "go-to guy" of sorts, who can clarify their doubts and guide them towards helpful sources of information.
Let’s say that all students of a given online course must submit a dissertation on a certain topic. Here’s an example of how the chatbot provides them helpful pointers.
Chatbot: "Thank you for submitting your proposal. Please note that all papers are to be written using the APA style of referencing. For a recap of your course, visit [link 2]. For a detailed timeline of the dissertation submission stages, see [link 3]. Let me know if you have any questions."
Student: "Can I use the Harvard referencing style?"
Chatbot: "We only accept papers referenced using the APA style. For helpful notes on the APA referencing style, refer to this link."
The student thus gets access to a legitimate, university-approved source, which prevents them from finding misleading or incomplete information over the internet.
Chatbot Challenge 5: Following up with students
An e-learning institute needs to keep track of its students to ensure that nobody else steps in to attend online lectures, participate in discussion forums, take assessments, and earn credits or badges on their behalf. Again, building chatbots allows the institute to conduct routine follow-ups with students, to find out where they are at their course and map their progress.
The best chatbots for online higher education courses can do this organically, getting key information from students at various stages of the course, and processing it for consistency of language, attendance, and assignment quality.
Get in touch with us for more information on chatbot development for higher education and other sectors, or to have us create a chatbot for your own business.