How Messenger Bots are being used in EducationNovember 27, 2018
Nowadays, the Internet and artificial intelligence plays a major part in our everyday lives, even when we don’t even realise it. Using voice assistants on our phones, planning the best route to work using Google Maps to checking your social media feeds, AI is working behind the scenes. Artificial Intelligence is used in many varying aspects of our lives that often it goes unrecognised and is taken for granted.
Chatbots are also a form of artificial intelligence and are being used to assist major companies digital marketing and customer service initiatives. Chatbots, also known as messenger bots, recognize words and phrases to deliver useful content to customers who have common questions. Designed to simulate conversations, chatbots are programmed to answer questions and help with routine tasks such as taking orders, booking appointments or redirecting to a real life representative.
This article will look at how chatbots are currently being used and how they might benefit school websites and Facebook Pages, by connecting school staff with students and parents.
How they are being used
Messenger bots have dramatically aided major organisation’s customer service by allowing them to send automatic responses to clients. Some messenger bots work by providing answers based on the keywords used in the consumer’s question. For example, if a parent was looking for information on enrolling their child at a school, the messenger bot would pick up on the words ‘enrol’ or ‘enrolling’ and would then produce the pre-programmed response attached to that word. It may then direct the parent to a link on the school website.
Another example of how chatbots work is through Facebook Messenger. If you have a Facebook Business Page, you can set up messenger bots to send out automatic responses to anyone who sends you a message. A lot of organisations have set up chatbots on their homepages, so that when a customer has a question, they can type it into the chatbot. The chatbot will then either reply with a pre-programmed response or a real life person will be manning the chatbot.
Pre-programmed responses are ideal for after-office hours where no one is available to manage the messenger bot. They can also be used to simply schedule appointments and book consultations. For prospective parents looking to enrol their students at a school, this function is very useful, as you can program the bot to record all relevant candidate data which can then be collected by a member of staff.
Implementing a chatbot strategy
Before adding a chatbot to your website, or using a Facebook Messenger bot on your Page, you must have a strategy on how you plan on using and managing it. Whether they use pre-automated responses or a real life representative, they require careful planning. Messenger bots which are not sufficiently manned are ineffective and unprofessional. If website visitors expect to have their queries resolved by a chatbot, but are met with an out of office response, or worse yet, no response, this can put consumers off and deter them from visiting your website at all.
There are two ways in which chatbots can be used. The first option is to program the bot with pre-automated responses. This involves someone manually uploading a list of relevant responses that match certain keywords entered by the consumer. Queries which are not suitably answered by the chatbot, should be redirected to a member of staff.
The second and more customer friendly option, is to have a real life representative manage the messenger bot. This requires a member of staff to man the bot at all times, and be prepared to answer client queries in a timely and efficient manner. Some organisations use a combination of both, to accommodate for queries at all times of the day.
Chatbots in schools and universities
With the surge in messenger bot use, we looked into how chatbots are now being used to aid teacher and student interaction. As well as help students with certain areas of study.
School websites with interactive chatbots are an effective communication tool for both parents and students. Prospective parents interested in enrolling their child at a school can speak to a member of staff in real-time via chatbot, rather than having to ring up or email the school. They can also be used as a simple and friendly platform to talk with parents directly regarding school programmes, extra-curricular activities and class timetables.
Some universities have already optimised their websites to include educational chatbots to welcome students when they visit the page.
According to Higher Education Marketing, The Georgia State University partnered with AdmitHub, to create the first university chatbot of its kind. The chatbot has been built to guide students through class registration, study information and steps on how to apply for housing. The chatbot, named “Pounce”, exchanged nearly 50,000 texts with 3,000 admitted students in its first month, routing less than 1% of messages to Georgia State staff for personal follow-up.
Here are some examples of chatbots which are being used by students to aid their studies or to generally help manage their time:
Miao is a study buddy bot, controlled and manned by an AI company based in Singapore. The chatbot is designed to improve educational efficiency and help students with maths, physics, chemistry and biology. Miao can explain concepts, solve equations and provide helpful solutions to complex homework questions. The Miao chatbot can be accessed via website and app!
The FindBot works by assisting students by sorting through emails, computers, clouds and files. Instead of students having to shift through hundreds of documents to find the right one, students can simply type the name or word of a file into Findbot and it will locate it for you. The bot also allows students to make searches using their own natural language. For example, when they cannot remember the specific name of a file or paper, they can ask “find me the essay I wrote for Mr Barnes in year 10 science.”
Replika is a friendly chatbot which acts as a school buddy. While, chatting to an AI messenger bot is an unusual concept to grasp, Replika is designed to send positive and compassionate responses to students who use it.
In 2016 Facebook announced that Messenger now supports chatbots, which allows Facebook business users to set-up bots which will automatically reply to customer queries. However, for these chatbots to be efficient and successful, they’ll need to respond with timely and accurate content, preferably passing off the conversation to a live customer service representative. As most schools have a Facebook Page, it makes sense to take advantage of messenger bots and use them for client service purposes. Utilizing Messenger is an effective way to improve digital marketing campaigns as well as provide support to students via instant messaging.
With all of this in mind, it seems that chatbots are leading the way when it comes to personalised AI. Whether you choose to have a automated chatbot, or a real life rep managing it, they offer instant assistance and direct queries to the relevant source.
Providing there is a carefully thought-out implementation strategy in place, chatbots seem to be a highly convenient, effective and timely tool to communicate with your school website visitors and Facebook followers.