Hosted by Meagan Strome and John Wu
Welcome to our open educational resource on artificial intelligence and chatbots in education.
Have you ever wondered if a chatbot could be used to enhance the educational experience? Our OER serves to investigate and better understand the rapidly evolving nature of chatbots and the opportunities this emerging market brings to education.
Please click here to get started.
Over the course of the week please engage and participate in the following activities:
Ice Breaker Activities
- Interact with our custom made Chatbot widget
Exercise Time Questions
Please complete 5 of the 15 ‘Exercise Time’ questions below – select one from each row on the summary page.
- Recall a recent situation where you made use of a chatbot service. Was it useful? Did it solve your queries?
- Based on your current teaching environment or needs, would you prefer to use a Task Orientated Chatbot or Self Learning Chatbot?
- Describe a service or situation in which you think/believe AI Chatbots can make things easier for you.
- Would you be willing or feel comfortable making use of an AI Chatbot in your teaching work? From your perspective, are there any advantages or disadvantages?
- Which one do you think is more efficient for looking up information? Manually typing into a search engine or asking a voice-controlled AI Chatbot?
- Do you think the MET program should include a Chatbot to assist students with their studies? What other uses can you think of for a MET-specific AI Chatbot?
- Do you think students would open up more to a chatbot than a teacher? Would a chatbot tool that students can share with be useful in educational settings?
- After reading about Kuki AI, do you think there is a fundamental difference between humans and AI Chatbots in this situation? Would you be willing to befriend an AI Chatbot such as Kuki AI? Would it seem normal or strange to you?
- Would you be willing to befriend an AI Chatbot such as Kuki AI? Would it seem normal or strange to you?
- Would you feel personally offended or hurt if an AI Chatbot said something rude & inappropriate to you?
- What challenges do you foresee in terms of teaching an AI Chatbot the concept of Ethics? Would you feel confident enough to attempt this task? Is it even possible to do so?
- As (i) an investor (ii) customer or (iii) school district head, would you be willing to invest in the future of Chatbots for Education? Are you confident that they will be crucial as a form of educational technology?
- Out of the following: i) Research and Development (ii) Advisory (iii) Assessment (iv) Admin and (v) Teaching & Learning, which application do you believe to be most or least impactful for education? Why?
- What answer would you expect to receive if you asked an AI Chatbot the following questions: (i) what should I wear today? (ii) what should I eat for lunch? and (iii) should I skip class today? Would the results differ if you asked your best friend or family member?
- What did you think of our OER’s Chatbot? Did you find it helpful, useless, annoying or managed to get a mild chuckle out of you?
99 responses to “Week 8: Chatbots”
Hi! Here are my responses to the five of the questions:
1. I have used Chatbots to avoid speaking with sales people and to gather preliminary information that I want to read on my own without speaking to a human being directly. It solved some of my queries and fulfilled its purpose. What I do not like is when you need to provide personal information to the chatbot or even before starting the chatbot. I have also found that Chatbots sometimes provide information I can Google in my own research. I recently used the live chat feature on UBC’s library and did not find it helpful in that there wasn’t anything they could tell me that I had already read.
4. I’m not sure I am comfortable using a Chatbot for teaching purposes. I think much of teaching is about building relationships with your students and a form of AI cannot do this. To me, a Chatbot is used out of convenience or to ask for information that is quick and “black and white”. In the teaching context, this type of information about be about the course which can be found in a comprehensible, complete course description/outline which a good course would provide.
5. I think manually typing in a search engine is easier than a Chatbot. Although both mediums use AI and collect information, for me, I can customize my search questions/query to find a more accurate answer instead of a Chatbot needed to go through several steps to figure out what I am trying to ask.
10. My question, before even responding to this question is: why would someone program an algorithm to respond in an offended/hurtful way? If AI gets to a point where it has the capacity to mimic immature reactions of a human being that causes hurt and offence, I would have some serious questions about its particular purpose.
12. If I was an investor with a business that required a Chatbot for efficiency and cost-effectiveness, yes, I might consider using a Chatbox in my service. However, for educational purposes – at this time and the near future, no, I would not. I think using Chatbots are a security risk for young children, are inappropriate for younger children and a potential time waster for older students/youth. I also think there is a skill that needs to be built in how we teach students to conduct proper and good searches on the web. Talking to a Chatbot can diminish this skill if a Chatbot is relied upon too much.
Hi Cindy, thanks for sharing your insights and experiences with Chatbots, they’re very insightful. Regarding Q10, this question was drafted with the Tay AI Case Study in mind (it’s in our OER under case study 3). I don’t think anyone would “intentionally” design their Chatbot to be offensive as the issue with Tay AI was due to (i) the machine learning process and (ii) using Twitter as the launchpad for learning. What happened was people started “teaching” the Chatbot inappropriate content and due to how machine learning works, Tay AI started mimicking their speech/content without understanding the context behind it. We can compare this to raising children as in most cases, parents don’t want their young children to hear offensive/inappropriate language for their age since it influences their future speech pattern and how they socially behave. This suggests that Chatbots can learn to be polite under controlled environments.
Thank you, John. When using Chatbots for the demographic of younger age/children, I think there needs to be some restrictions on how much the AI can learn. I remember when SIRI first came out – people started asking all sorts of silly things. Nowadays, SIRI has learned and/or been programmed to respond somewhat sarcastically. Issues of safety in cyberspace, in general, need serious contemplation and most of us are oblivious to the potential harm.
The comparison of raising children to a Chatbot’s response opens up many implications. Will we get to a point where AI can make cognitive decisions like a human being can, with all the complexities of culture, personality, past experiences, etc.? It is a bit of a scary thought, depending on how you think about it.
Hi Cindy, you raise some very important points. The chatbot technology is likely better suited to high school and post-secondary students. Regardless of age though the rapid development of AI over the past years has spurred the development of many new safeguards put in place to mitigate the risks of AI. For educational use, policymakers must ensure clear guidelines are set out on how the technology will be deployed and continuously monitored.
Thank you. Will Chatbots incorporate more voice activation? When you say “regardless of age”, I think about primary school students who cannot spell, let alone type yet.
Thanks for bringing up the point on safety in cybersecurity, it’s definitely an issue which educators need to consider if they choose to rely on Chatbots for their teaching. It is indeed quite a intimating thought, perhaps the best approach would be to have 2 separate models of Chatbots: one for High School/Higher Education students which is more “off the shelf” and widely used with the other being a much more secure and customized model for K-Grade 6 students where it’ll be carefully programmed and fully supervised by district school boards.
I just see so many implications in regard to human development in young learners. When kids are going to school in the early days, much of their development revolves around socializing and getting along with others. Even asking questions and responding in a human way, is so important. I know that young kids will not be replaced by Chatbots for the whole of their socialization so a question might revolve around the benefits of using Chatbots among young learners and how much/how little would be beneficial to them.
#2 – Based on your current teaching environment or needs, would you prefer to use a Task Orientated Chatbot or Self Learning Chatbot?
I would definitely prefer to use a self learning chatbot in my teaching environment simply because, as was mentioned, the teaching environment is just so complex. My school actually piloted a task oriented chatbot system called YourIKA (it looks like they have made a lot of changes since we looked at this about 4 years ago). This system was built for math course and we essentially had to pre-load all the questions we thought students would ask us about and then load the answers. As you can imagine, this was time-consuming and not super effective. We pulled all sample problems from our textbook and course, but this still left the door open for students to ask questions that we did not anticipate. I think a self learning chatbot, jumping off from this point, could take those extra steps in answering question that we had not anticipated. I do think task oriented chatbots could handle some very basic questions, but I think students would push it to its limits pretty quickly. Self learning chatbots, depending on the quality of the programming, sound like they could take students much further. Perhaps one could even be developed that students could never stump; that would be pretty cool. You could play games with the class to see who could “break” the A.I.; that might be a fun project!
Hi Nathan, thanks for your response. As I math teacher I enjoyed hearing about your chatbot experience for math. Good for you and your school for trying out this emerging technology so early on. It sounds like that was a lot of work with little reward, however, as you mentioned a self-learning chatbot could potentially benefit the students and teachers in your school. From four years ago considering the advancements in technology and AI would you give chatbots another try? p.s. Break the AI does sound like a fun experiment!
I would definitely give chatbots another try. I think the tech has probably come a long way since we made that one attempt. That was also just one company; as far as I know, they were brand new to this and were still working out the kinks!
Hi Nathan, I like the concept of breaking the AI and allowing students to test it’s boundaries (that sounds like a fun assignment by itself!). I can imagine having to manually input questions to be tedious and easily prone to errors, it would be interesting if you could simply feed an AI specific formulas and it’ll automatically be able to calculate math questions based on the context.
#4 – Would you be willing or feel comfortable making use of an AI Chatbot in your teaching work? From your perspective, are there any advantages or disadvantages?
I would be willing to give an AI chatbot a chance in my school. As I mentioned above, we tested one out (we just didn’t think it was effective enough to justify the cost at the time). Where I could see an AI chatbot being useful is in a lot of administrative tasks. The OER mentioned how a major use for these is in onboarding tasks like setting up email accounts, for example. In my school, we have an introduction unit devoted to sharing information with students on how things work in their course i.e. office hours, email response times, proctoring final exams, academic appeals, etc. While we have done a good job laying this information out, students rarely read these pages (I have the data to prove it!). Instead, an AI chatbot on our LMS or website, equipped with all this knowledge, would probably be much more effective. If a student could simply type in “how do I write my final exam”, they would quickly get the answer. I suppose this action could be performed by a task oriented chatbot, however, students often have complex questions surrounding the exam, such as what kind of accommodations they can seek, what the should do if their system crashes during the exam, what kind of notes they are allowed to have, etc. An AI chatbot could be very valuable in managing these types of inquiries. As it stands, our administration team manages these questions via phone and email. So in my teaching work, I would can certainly see the advantages of an AI chatbot, but more so from an administrative perspective (not sure if this counts as “teaching work” per se).
Hi Nathan, definitely agree with you for using Chatbots to handle administrative tasks. If used correctly I assume they can help streamline and reduce tasks that eat up a lot of valuable time. It would be great if AI Chatbots could be used as virtual avatars in Department meetings so it gives us an excuse not to attend haha. For more complex enquiries, a possible solution would be to allow students to write down their concerns and based on the context, the AI Chatbot could automatically refer the student to a specific staff member who specializes in a particular area (eg: for admissions or course registration). This could reduce the time it takes to connect/transfer phone calls or having the student look up which staff member to contact.
Thanks for the OER Team Chatbots! Here are my responses: 1. The last time I used a chatbot was when I had to ask about internet service disruptions happening in my area. To be honest, the service is usually not that helpful and I would have to say “can I talk to a human agent” so they could redirect me. I was surprised this time that they notified me that my specific area was under maintenance and would have interrupted service. 90% it doesn’t solve my queries but this time it did! 3. I think AI chatbots can help a lot with tracking orders, making refunds and checking the status of applications. There are likely bots that already do this, and I’m sure they will likely improve and become more receptive to people’s questions and feedback as they evolve. 4. I would be willing to make use of an AI Chatbot in my work, especially when it comes to instruction review. I’ve had many times when students ask me what they were doing after I just explained, or when a student came in late and missed everything I said. I think the advantages of this would be having two teachers at once (albeit one that is much more limited). At the tap of a few buttons, students on the other side of the classroom can access the instructions or know what to do. A possible disadvantage would be inputting the instructions for the AI Chatbot at the start, which would be more work. 7. Many moons ago, I downloaded an app that advertised itself as a very convincing bot that could act like a best friend. Despite it giving all the “right” answers, it felt like I was talking to myself. It felt strange to me because there was some uncanny vibe to it. 13. I enjoyed the Chatbot and tried talking to it about trivial things like the weather. It reminded me that I was short on time and need to finish up my work… It’s hard to find humorous chatbots since most of them are very work-oriented so it was a refreshing take!
Hi Jackson, it’s great to see that you’ve used Chatbots in so many different situations! I can relate when you mention using Chatbots to track an order/shipment and asking if they could connect me to a live agent instead haha. I like the idea of using a AI Chatbot for instructional review, it’s a good way to ensure clear instructions while not having to repeat yourself many times (which wastes time in the classroom). An advantage would be you could reuse the same Chatbot in future courses, while it may seems like additional work, think of the Chatbot as an evergreen resource which is designed to help you be more efficient. I chuckled when you said it felt like talking to yourself, must have been a surreal experience! The point on humour is also quite relevant as it reflects and reinforces the limitation that AI Chatbots still lack the capability to understand human emotions within certain contexts (what is funny, why is it funny, why do humans laugh etc)
Hi John, thanks for the idea on having a Chatbot as an evergreen resource. Suddenly, the work sounds a lot more worth it!
Exercise Time 2: Based on your current teaching environment or needs, would you prefer to use a Task Orientated Chatbot or Self Learning Chatbot?
I work in a lot of ADST courses in High School, with task specific goals and learning needs, so I think a task specific chat bot would work well. For example, in a textiles course many students are trying out new skills and I will demonstrate a specific set of instructions and then get students to practice. It would be great to have the ability for students to be able to click on a chatbot to be given written and video instructions related to that skill, as the students progress at may different rates.
Hi Marie, I’m on board with the idea of using chatbots for Applied Design courses. When you mentioned textiles/home economics class, I suddenly had flashbacks to high school where I initially struggled to learn how to sew and operate the machine properly. There was only one teacher available and ensuring all 30+ students knew how to use the machine was quite demanding for her. Having a Chatbot to provide tips, videos or general guidance would have most likely provided a confident boost for me in that situation. Do you think there will be limitations if you asked an AI Chatbot on their opinion for Design aspect of ADST, eg: aesthetics, visual looks/subjective questions? (I assume skills and technology shouldn’t be an issue)
I have sought a variety of academic and ADST courses and I think that is probably the limitations for chatbot in most courses. Those grey areas that don’t have a right or wrong answer. It’s like the Google Forms, they are great for some quick yes or no answers, but you still have do look over the answers that require a written response because it would be hard or impossible to provide all of the possible correct outcomes a student could come up with, not to mention time consuming.
Hi Marie, I like the idea of having videos and specific instructions being populated as students ask questions. This type of chatbot can benefit both the teacher and the student. With such a diverse range of uses and requirements already mentioned here, the difficulty is designing or finding the correct type of AI chatbot to best suit one’s specific needs. There definitely is a way to better use this sort of technology to our advantage and that of our students.
#7 – Do you think students would open up more to a chatbot than a teacher? Would a chatbot tool that students can share with be useful in educational settings?
I really enjoyed the Ted Talk by Anne Scherer; I never really thought about this idea of removing social judgment from conversations via chatbots. I think there is a lot of merit to this.
In the classroom, I think students may generally open up more to a chatbot. I say generally because you will undoubtedly have students who just think it’s odd and won’t want to try it. I think it also depends on what kind of relationship students have with their teachers. Some teachers are very approachable and thus the chatbot would not be required. I think the student’s age may be a huger factor as well. Some students may wonder if what they say to the chatbot will be recorded and tied back to them (I would imagine a younger student would not think this but an older one might). This might be easily solved with a guarantee of anonymity.
I do believe this would be useful in educational settings. Even though I mentioned above a number of reasons why students may not openly share with a chatbot, I think even if it encourages one student to talk and seek assistance, it is worth it. I don’t think you can ever have too many outlets for students to share their feelings. I see it as a numbers game; more opportunities to share = more sharing.
You bring up a great point Nathan: some of our most vulnerable students might feel they have no one they can talk to without fear of reprisal, but an anaymous chatbot can be that for them. Do you think this could be used by organizations such as kids help phone, or do you think that would be too impersonal for kids contacting them during a true moment of crisis?
Brendan, in response to the kids help phone idea, the only way I could see this working was if kids contacting them were given the choice to talk a bot: as in, “Do you feel more comfortable talking to me (an actual human), or to our help-bot?” Otherwise, a misunderstood question could result in an empathy-free response from an algorithm which might make the situation much worse.
Hi Hayley, having the option of talking to a teacher or the bot seems like a good idea. I suppose in talking to a human, they too could make a mistake, or say the wrong thing and make a situation worse, and certain teachers may not be empathetic. For most applications, it seems bots paired with humans are a more effective combination than each alone?
I’m convinced this is probably the best approach, relying purely on either Chatbots or humans won’t be as effective compared to combining them together. Perhaps the Chatbot could serve as the initial layer where details of situation are collected and if necessary, the Chatbot could forward the conversation to a counsellor/teacher who takes over the case
I am always in favour of a mixed-methods approach!
Just going back to Hayley’s comment about the empathy-free response. While I do think a person could make a similar mistake and respond in the wrong way, I think kids would be more forgiving of the bot i.e. the bot said something robotic, well whatever, it’s a bot. They would be less forgiving of a person at kids help phone who did not know how to respond because this is their job. Not sure how that plays into all this but I think its an important point.
I do think the option for kids would be nice and maybe some keywords that automatically trigger a live counsellor to get involved.
The phone idea is quite intriguing Brendan, there’s the possibility that Chatbots will be viewed as “neutral” entities which do not harbour any preconceived notions, prejudices or bias which makes them ideal for help lines. I would assume that most kids/teenagers are hesitant to seek help or advice because they’re afraid of how adults will respond. On the flipside, Hayley also raises a good point as the overall goal of counselling is to form emotional empathy and understanding the problem. There are some situations where a Chatbot might lack basic emotional skills to effectively help.
This would likely help with the “stupid questions” issue too- I think a lot of students keep quiet in class because they don’t want people to judge their question (I know I definitely have done this!) a chatbot might encourage these students to ask the questions and not worry about their classmates (or their teacher) thinking it was silly. It might also help daydreamers- have you ever missed a chunk of a lecture because your mind was somewhere else and then you weren’t sure if a question had been asked, or what you are wondering had been covered while you weren’t paying attention? This would be another opportunity to ask a chatbot about something you might have missed without having to admit that you were daydreaming. I agree with Nathan, that it might not help all students (so non-judgmental human-teachers are still important!), but if it clears up a few issues, then great!
Thanks Hayley for bringing this important point up! Yes, there are countless times which students have told me they didn’t want to ask a question in front of the class because they felt others would laugh at them. As Jackson mentioned earlier, Chatbots could be a great way to keep the administrative/course objectives accessible and help students who are prone to zoning out get back on track. Then again, I don’t want to encourage a learning environment where no one is willing to ask questions in class (it’ll be so dull if everyone just talks to the Chatbot) so perhaps balance is the key.
Hi Nathan, I too enjoyed that Ted-Talk, I always just assumed the more ‘human-like’ the better, however, I never considered the social judgement aspect, and how impactful removing that piece could be. I wonder if having the option be anonymous would work? That way students could choose if they wanted their conversation to be safe from human intervention, and others could agree to allow for a teacher or student services teacher to contact them if the bot detected cause for concern?
Hey team chatbot! I completed the icebreakers and chose to share my thoughts for the following questions below:
Q: Recall a recent situation where you made use of a chatbot service. Was it useful? Did it solve your queries?
A: My students use CK-12 “flexbooks 2.0” platform and I’ve customized it to suit the BC curriculum. The embedded chatbot “flexi” is available for most readings, and when students have basic terminology questions, it’s actually pretty good at responding to their queries with relevant few sentences to explain the answer. That said, when language is imprecise or the question is too broad, it redirects students to one of several readings, and the average middle school student seldom takes it up on these offers to review content further. It hasn’t been a game changer, but it is a nice tool to have!
Q: Would you be willing or feel comfortable making use of an AI Chatbot in your teaching work? From your perspective, are there any advantages or disadvantages?
A: I do as explained above. I find it advantageous, as any resource that can save me time so I’m more available for students who are truly lost is helpful; I just wish it was a bit more precise or authentic in how it explained concepts to individual students.
Q: Do you think students would open up more to a chatbot than a teacher? Would a chatbot tool that students can share with be useful in educational settings?
A: As explained I think a chatbot can definitely be useful, but while students might open up to a chatbot who they know won’t get them into trouble, I don’t see that being as aunethtic a connection as opening up to another human being who cares about you.
Q: Would you feel personally offended or hurt if an AI Chatbot said something rude & inappropriate to you?
A: I don’t think so; I’d be frustrated if I genuinely needed help, and I’d have a laugh if I was truly just chatting with it.
Q: What did you think of our OER’s Chatbot? Did you find it helpful, useless, annoying or managed to get a mild chuckle out of you?
It got a mild chuckle I’ll admit it! I was impressed that a team of 2 was able to construct one so quickly, and it was able to recognize the word “succeed” and ask me to choose relevant follow up options. That said, when I asked it which assignment was most difficult in ETEC 522, it offered what I assume is a generic response akin to work hard and check the site regularly. Nevertheless, I was impressed it understood me as well as it did!
Hi Brendan, thanks for trying out our Chatbot! Initially the team thought including one would be a difficult task but once we started programming the questions & answer flow, it’s actually quite straightforward though not as intuitive as we had hoped. Flexbooks sounds like a well designed Task Orientated Chatbot, I imagine most MET students would welcome a similar chatbot which could help out with our readings and research haha. I perfectly agree that most Chatbots are not game changers (yet) but handy to keep around. The point on anonymity/neutrality is worth looking into, it’s interesting how most of us view Chatbots as “detached” entities who are best suited for discussing sensitive topics or discussions which they prefer not to let other people know. Perhaps schools could consider using Chatbots for student counselling purposes?
Similar to the discussion above, I agree with you that I think Chatbots could serve as a form of “sounding board” role for counselling in school where students can seemingly “practice” having sensitive conversations provided they have anonymity and foreknowledge that what they discussed will not be shared. Even journalling to oneself can be incredibly therapeutic, however, I found I was intrigued enough to do so until I was taking writing courses in university, so perhaps a chatbot format with more dialogue, even if only simulated, would be more appealingly to youth.
I guess I’ll start in with #1: Recall a recent situation where you made use of a chatbot service. Was it useful? Did it solve your queries? I bump into chatbots all the time when I’m running into technical issues or am on a sales site. What I typically find is that I just use the chatbot to get me to the human. The problem is that the chatbot reads my responses which are the questions I have been searching in the first place, and therefore sends me to the locations I have already searched with those same terms. If chatbots were more intelligent they might understand that I have already tried those solutions and am looking for a new one, but instead I just click through their responses until I get to the point where I can contact the human help at the end. Of course, chatbots are helpful if you HAVEN’T already looked up the answers yourself. As a member of plenty of parent groups for schools and clubs, I am often irritated with parents that ask questions which are easily answered if they just googled it (“Is it pizza day today?” GAH!) sometimes I wish there was an option for a bot to pop up on these groups, delete the question and respond individually to these people…
Haha, that would be great to choose to have a bot respond sometimes instead of yourself! I’ve often joked that if I had a chatbot for my online math courses if would only need a few responses “did you do the work?” If yes “great,” if no “do the work.”
Interestingly I prefer to talk to a human/live agent for sales/transactions or contract renewal enquiries as there might be specific details such as discounts, employee freebies or special offers which could only be confirmed by an actual staff member.
#6: Do you think the MET program should include a Chatbot to assist students with their studies? What other uses can you think of for a MET-specific AI Chatbot? You had some interesting case studies, and the Differ video (https://chatbots522.weebly.com/case-studies-examples-of-application.html) really caught my eye. When I first began MET someone started up a WhatsApp group for my ETEC 500 class, and I was so incredibly grateful to have some social connection with other students. That first course was very academic and not particularly social, so being able to chat with others changed the feel of it completely. The concept that the “Differ” bot presented, where it would help to connect students with similar questions or social interests seemed like a really good idea. Through good luck I’ve been assigned group work in various classes with others that I could get along with and chat again like in ETEC 500, but sometimes I have not found that in a particular class- if the MET program had a bot that helped promote more human connection, I think that would be hugely beneficial for engagement, and keeping students on track (I’m often getting encouragement from peers in MET that we’re on the homestretch of a long assignment!).
Which one do you think is more efficient for looking up information? Manually typing into a search engine or asking a voice controlled AI Chatbot?
I am not sure one is more efficient than the other, but I guess generationally some people aren’t used to typing and so inputting everything into the search engine may feel cumbersome. Seniors, for instance, may feel the accessibility of talking to a chatbot as the next best thing to talking to a person so they may feel more comfortable with it. My generation is used to googling everything. I am comfortable typing in my exact query into the search bar because I know they will look for all of the key words and even more likely my question has been asked before. The possibility of inefficiency the Chatbot is the way that they may have a programmed set of baseline questions and responses that people can have moved past or have tried already (try powering down your device), which can become very time consuming and even frustrating.
Hi Marie, I’ve noticed that my young kids use the voice feature for most of their queries. Mostly because they can’t spell well yet and are really slow at typing! I think some seniors may appreciate the voice option too. The voice option is available for both google searches and chatbots, that part aside, do you think it depends on the type of questions you have, or what you are trying to find as to what you would prefer to use?
Amazing job on your OER guys, I found it really helpful especially with your Chatbots in Education page in terms of chatbots giving instant feedback to help students associate better meaning with it, and contributing to engagement. I also appreciated the integration of your own chatbot to sample the technology.
1. Recall a recent situation where you made use of a chatbot service. Was it useful? Did it solve your queries?
I recently used a chatbot to help me to cancel an airline booking as because of COVID-19, the phone lines were often busy and I didn’t have the time to wait all day on it. The website of the company I had booked with informed me that rather than email, they used a chatbot service to solve these sort of inqueries. I found the process a lot less time-consuming and after a few questions and answers I was informed that my ticket would be cancelled and I was entitled to a travel voucher. It was much more efficient that the traditional phone method.
2. Based on your current teaching environment or needs, would you prefer to use a Task Orientated Chatbot or Self Learning Chatbot?
I would prefer to use a self-learning chatbot for individual students to address their particular needs as this method seems to cater towards the individual based on the adaptive AI component involved. However, I would be concerned about how to implement safety measure as to protect the students private information.
3. Describe a service or situation in which you think/believe AI Chatbots can make things easier for you.
AI chatbots can help make things easier by suggesting what to type or directing me where to go to get the particular information/resources I may need such as in an online library for example. I also liked the idea you mentioned in your OER about chatbots helping with applications and for orientations!
4. Which one do you think is more efficient for looking up information? Manually typing into a search engine or asking a voice-controlled AI Chatbot?
I prefer typing just because in the past I’ve had to repeat myself many times for voice-controlled technologies, making it frustrating and not efficient. However, that being said, I know that once the AI gets used to your voice it becomes easier to use and therefore in the future based on the information from your OER, I would be interested in using a voice-controlled AI chatbot to test it out for efficiency.
5. Would you feel personally offended or hurt if an AI Chatbot said something rude & inappropriate to you?
I don’t think I would feel personally offended in an AI chatbot said something inappropriate to me, however, I would probably be stunned and deem the website or host of the chatbot itself suspicious and potentially harmful and avoid it in the future.
6: Do you think the MET program should include a Chatbot to assist students with their studies? What other uses can you think of for a MET specific AI Chatbot?
I personally would love a chatbot in some/all of the MET courses to help with feeling connected whilst studying online and to help clarify and answer questions that I may find important but may not want to email the professors about as I may think it is “too small” of an issue to “bother” them.
Thanks Alexis, that is great to hear that you had a positive chatbot experience regarding airline travel. I know firsthand how stressful and time-consuming that can be, but what an efficient option for both the traveler and the airline. I agree that self-learning chatbots allow for a more individualized approach, and concur that students’ personal data must be protected. As more and more bots are used in business and education further measures of protection are being put in place. However, what seems to be often the case with technology is that safeguards aren’t keeping pace with the tech. Some AI chatbots can apparently detect the emotional state of students and then can modify the response with language adaptation and even incorporate a joke! It appears that there are many merits to the MET program incorporating a chatbot!
Wow, I didn’t realize how advanced they had become with being able to detect the emotional states of students as well! That’s pretty impressive! I can also see how that would be helpful in those who may get frustrated with technology or chatbots if they are not answering their questions or helping them enough initially, these capabilities could help calm them down perhaps and alleviate stress as well.
Hard to believe! That’s the kind of chatbot the MET program needs. A bot that responds to students’ stressors with words of encouragement, and educational technology jokes ; )
Hi Alexis, thanks for sharing your experiences, I definitely know how frustrating waiting for hours on the phone can be with airline companies. I’ve never personally used a Chatbot to handle my flight bookings/cancellations as I tend to go for the self manage option. Hearing how helpful the Chatbot was in your situation has encouraged me to give it a try in the future. I also wonder if Chatbots could be used as a form of in flight service where passengers can select what food/drinks they want or particular requests through a Chatbot. Does it sound like a feasible idea? As for detecting a user’s emotions, there has been some recent breakthroughs where Chatbots are now able to detect a person’s mood based on the tone of their voice and facial expressions. While it’s accuracy is still being refined, it’s interesting to see where things are heading in the future. I’m liking these suggestions as to how a MET Chatbot could work (it would be fantastic if it had the capability to assist with course registration or assignment reminders haha)
I completely agree about the chatbots serving as a sort of PR or reminder service for important dates such as registration and due dates. I will have to do some research on the chatbots that detect facial expressions and how this actually functions, it sounds fascinating and I could see it being helpful for those as mentioned above who may need emotional support via some sort of helpline or mental health service or for other instances. Although I do remember when there was that facial scanning app that turned people’s photos into an ‘old’ version of themselves and there were rumours of the technology selling people identities on the internet. So I suppose with any type of facial recognition software privacy is always an issue.
I remember that app, it was all over social media feeds at one point. Privacy and personal identity is definitely a valid concern, there’s still a number of users who are hesitant to provide biometric details due to privacy reasons. With smartphones integrating more features such as fingerprint unlock, face and voice recognition, it’s interesting to see whether people will accept it as normal technology over time
After reading about Kuki AI, do you think there is a fundamental difference between humans and AI Chatbots in this situation?
If by situation you mean in the Education field that you reference in your review then I would disagree. I know leaps and bounds are being made in AI but the key difference is in the empathy or “reading the room” ability. Understanding what students need emotionally is still not in the ability of an interface.
I have actually shown this video called “How far is too Far?” The Age of A.I to my students, and it always gets some great discussions going around benefits and limitations.
Thanks Marie. I think we have to concede that bots and humans will always be different. Bots’ lack of empathy and overall limits in emotional intelligence is the most obvious differentiator. Thanks for the video! This will entice some discussion with my students!
Would you feel personally offended or hurt if an AI Chatbot said something rude & inappropriate to you?
I would wonder what happened in their programming. There is always people willing to try to “prove wrong” something or take on the challenge to get the item to do something it wasn’t necessarily intended to do. People have made living on youtube doing just that.
– https://youtu.be/z8xh_AjPEEM -Top 20 product fails of all time
– https://youtu.be/__Rpn6ZKtr4 – Top 20 Biggest Tech Product Fails of All Time
– https://youtu.be/QMWlRWnAZH8 – 21 HORRIFIC Tech Fails they want you to forget.
I could continue to list off videos and all of them have millions of views. I think when you create something one of the number one things you have to figure out is how it can be corrupted.
What did you think of our OER’s Chatbot? Did you find it helpful, useless, annoying or managed to get a mild chuckle out of you?
I think your OER was very well done. I only interacted a little bit with the Chatbot as I really needed to look though the material and did not need assistance, which is what think most chatbots are provided for.
Based on your current teaching environment or needs, would you prefer to use a Task Orientated Chatbot or Self Learning Chatbot?
I would likely make use of a task oriented chatbot. For the simple reason that I could setup specific assessments, exit tickets or procedural pieces that students would interact with. In this manner I make use of the simplicity while saving myself a great deal of time, and the information shared would be less sensitive, more predictable and usable as formative assessment. My thinking is that the task oriented chatbot would also be easier to manage and maintain throughout the course or instruction, and so easier to continually re-use, I may have that wrong though. If I am correct, less resources needed to manage is always an asset when we are talking about education, there often isn’t a great deal of funding for “add-ons” like this.
Describe a service or situation in which you think/believe AI Chatbots can make things easier for you.
Using chatbots for simple formative assessments is certainly an easy win when we think about deploying immediately into the classroom. Or use in an LMS for students to find out which assignments they need to work on, added instructions or need direction on finding more resources that are linked to class instruction. I also think they could be deployed to serve the staff community at large; finding answers to common problems, sourcing new materials or resources, putting staff in contact with the correct person or department depending on the job/function required. Some school boards and higher education institutions in Canada are quite large so having a way to put staff in contact with the correct people for the job saves everyone time.
Hi Kyle, thanks for your response. Student feedback is very important, and I agree that having a chatbot for simple assessment purposes, as you mentioned, would be a great way to provide that piece and allow for students to receive immediate feedback. I appreciate you mentioning a chatbot for teachers too, I hadn’t thought of that application. I find the website for my school division to be very difficult to use and source information from. A chatbot could help direct teachers to the correct contacts, and assist them in navigating through these often large and cumbersome websites and online filing systems.
Hi Kyle, based on our team’s experience with programming the OER Chatbot, Task Orientated ones can definitely be reused/modified easily for a new semester/class. I agree with you that low maintenance resources are definitely beneficial for education as they can essentially run on auto pilot mode while remaining productive in the background. Best of all, Chatbots are heavily customizable so there’s bound to be one that fits an educator’s needs. I like the idea of integrating a Chatbot into existing LMS systems such as Canvas or Moodle, it would probably make things more lively!
Hi Chatbot Team. Excellent OER. I enjoyed engaging with the Venture Superbot. Chatbots can be TA that an instructor needs for their course in an educational setting. They are particularly helpful in an online learning environment as many students are in different time zones than the instructor. So I would like to address question 4:Would you be willing or feel comfortable using an AI Chatbot in your teaching work? From your perspective, are there any advantages or disadvantages? I have mentioned an advantage previously, but they can assist the student 24/7. They are available on-demand; as teaching assistants, they provide formative feedback to students. As they can give mini-quizzes or practice exercises Along with providing instructors with analytical data as to how students are performing in the course. So I would be willing to implement a chatbot in my teaching work. Students often relate more to chatbots, allowing them to learn at their own pace. Many educators have concerns that chatbots will replace humans as AI-Bots will become prominent, and there will be no need for TAs or perhaps instructors. But, students still need that teacher presence to feel connected to their instructor; this is achieved by emails or personalized feedback on assignments. AI-chatbot can not provide the teacher presence. They can only simulate what they are programmed to do. This is a disadvantage of chatbots, the non-human interaction that students sometimes need. However, I am a huge supporter of Chatbots in educational settings. A group at Georgia Tech designed Jill Watson demonstrated the benefits of implementing chatbots: https://dilab.gatech.edu/a-suite-of-online-learning-tools/.
Hi Anna, thanks for your response. It seems students’ needs are accelerating at a pace that is difficult for educators and the education system to keep up. Learners are no longer receptive to traditional ways of acquiring knowledge and are instead discovering new ways of learning. For example, and as you mentioned, students want to have answers and seek help 24/7. AI chatbots can provide that, they can also be used to give basic lectures and adapt and accommodate the learner. Chatbots alone will have advantages, however, paired with a human is where I think education will see the most positive effects.
Hi John and Meagan,
I truly enjoyed reading your OER. The website was well designed, easy to navigate, and full of relevant information. The Ice breaker was concise and added value. The survey questions were thought-provoking and got me thinking. I would like to share my feedback on the following questions, Q1: my experience with chatbots has been mixed, the recent one is probably not the best example, but I will share it, because the question asked for the most recent example. This particular experience involved using a retail website and the chatbot functionality was covering the most important piece of information that I was looking for!!! It was integrated so badly that it covered the exact information that I was looking for. Luckily, the website had a consolidated list of FAQs which helped me get an answer.
Hi Saeid, thanks for the encouraging comments! I’ve definitely experienced the same thing where a Chatbot was hovering over important information on a website. This is a good reminder for designers to make sure a Chatbot isn’t obtrusive in terms of placement design but at the same time, it needs to catch the user’s attention.
Our team also hope that the Chatbot in the OER wasn’t blocking any important information for you (as we don’t have a consolidated FAQ section haha)
Quite honestly, I found the Chatbot in your OER in a perfect spot and integrated nicely. PS: I clicked on “I just want to chat” and it certainly made me laugh…well done team.
Q3: In my opinion any situation that involves a booking of some sort can be a perfect opportunity for using a chatbot. For instance, scheduling an appointment with a chiropractor, or a massage therapist. Refilling regular and reoccurring prescription. In general, I see a great deal of potential for utilizing chatbots, when it comes to care providers.
With proper coding bots can be designed to handle complicated tasks, however, as bots become more prominent in educational settings students and teachers may benefit from training on how to best word queries to get the response they are searching for.
Q5: I think a hybrid-approach of text and voice is the best solution here. As Mary Finch correctly mentioned in her response, Seniors would most likely find the voice functionality useful as its closest to a real person. However, as Alexis mentioned in her response to question #5, I also have had to repeat myself numerous times before the right words could be detected by the chatbot. Additionally, I would assume that users with heavier accents (e.g. non-English speakers, etc.…) would find voice a bit more challenging.
The voice-enabled option for bots would benefit seniors and younger students who are still learning to spell and type. Many chatbots can be multi-lingual, although I’m not sure how effective the chatbot would be even in the correct language if the accent is strong, that’s a concern for sure.
I’ve seen a situation where an elderly couple who did not speak English use a Chatbot to communicate/instantly translate between 2 languages with the Pharmacy staff and managed to talk as if it was a normal conversation, neither side had issues understanding each other. The accent point is worth looking into for sure, things might get slightly more tricky if it was a blend between different regional accents or how different countries pronounce certain words
Q10: definitely not, it would certainly make me laugh though. Depending on the level of inappropriateness, I might report it to the website owner, or I might just move on.
Ensuring users can report errors and issues and having those matters dealt with in a timely and effective manner should be a consideration for the owners/designers.
# 12 – As (i) an investor (ii) customer or (iii) school district head, would you be willing to invest in the future of Chatbots for Education? Are you confident that they will be crucial as a form of educational technology?
As an investor, I think I would invest in chatbots for education. You shared some great information about the market growing from $2.6 billion to $9.4 billion by 2024. I also see this encroaching into the online tutoring market as well. For my A1 topic, I looked at online tutoring solutions and learned that the online tutoring service market is predicted to reach as high as 18 billion USD by 2028. This tells me that there is clearly a need for instant access to assistance by students (both administrative and educational) and there is also a need for schools, districts, and other organizations to find scalable, efficient solutions to those needs. If someone could develop a chatbot that can actually function as a tutor, even at a low level, I would definitely be throwing money at it.
From an educator perspective, I am not sure I would be ready to make an investment that gets this technology into the classroom right now. I would need to see if develop a bit further and put a number of safeguards in place to protect students before doing so.
Hi Nathan, thanks for tackling this question. I agree with you, as an investor the market predictions for AI chatbots for educational (including tutoring) use seem very promising. As you said learners are seeking 24/7 support which in turn increases the pressure on teachers to be responding to enquiries at all hours. We use Microsoft Teams at my school and most students will have the Teams app on their phone, the chat feature of Teams is very similar to instant messaging, so students are constantly messaging their teachers. When those notifications show up on my phone I feel compelled to answer them, however, have made a more conscious effort to limit responses on evenings and weekends, unfortunately, that precedent has already been set though. I wonder if certain chatbots were to offer a free trial if many administrators such as yourself would “try it before you buy it”?
I would definitely give chatbots a test run if the demo looked good. As I mentioned in a different post, my school did trial one for math courses but it just did not work out so well. I would be willing to do this again just to see how far the technology has come. Eventually, the technology is going to get to a level where we think it is useful. Trialing will be key to making sure we implement chatbots right at the point where they become useful, rather than years later (I prefer to be an early adopter).
Hello team chatbots! Thank you for the informative OER, I enjoyed learning about a topic I have never really given much thought. I’ve compiled my question responses below! —— 1. I generally only use chatbots when I need to (i.e. the company doesn’t offer anything else). In those cases, they are “good enough”, but usually they always needed to direct me to another service or book me an appointment, which seemed like it could have been done without the chatbot. —— 4. I see no reason to not have some asynchronous chatbot service for students to ask questions outside of class time. There would be great advantages for the students, especially those that need a bit of additional feedback in order to learn the material. However, I would not be interested in having to program the chatbot or fill it with material/responses, I would expect this material generation and subsequent tech support would be beyond my available time. —— 5. Search engines are more efficient, assuming one can operate a keyboard well enough. —— 6. I’m not exactly sure what material a chatbot could assist MET students with. I generally equate chatbots with the requirement to ask a question, but I have yet to encounter a question I could not pose my classmates or professor within the MET course. And, each time I have posed these questions I have gotten an answer within 24 hours or so, which is plenty of time for asynchronous learning. ——- 7. Students may open up to a chatbot more than their instructor, assuming that the chatbot would not mind them asking the same question over and over, or asking a particularly “simple” question that an instructor may assume students should already know. That said, I would always assume my instructor has access to my chatbot queries unless otherwise specified, so I would not be more candid with them.
Thanks Ally! Chatbots are like an iceberg – initially, I thought chatbots in education was a relatively small topic and was worried we wouldn’t have enough content for a week-long OER. However, (and I’m sure this is true for many of the emerging technologies) after doing a deep dive into the multitude of applications and versions I’ve realized this is a huge concept with many considerations. One important consideration that you mentioned is the time and upkeep required to build and maintain a bot. I fully concur that this responsibility is well beyond the scope of educators, and should be left up to divisions or IT, and the chatbot company itself. I can see students using the chatbot to ask questions that instructors assume they already know. Maybe they were daydreaming and missed part of the instruction, or maybe there’s a language barrier so the chatbot is utilized to confirm instructions etc.
First off, Kudos to you, both! What a wonderful education resource on chatbots. I thoroughly enjoyed navigating your website and learning about this subject. Here are my thoughts for the 5 questions:
1) Recall a recent situation where you made use of a chatbot service. Was it useful? Did it solve your queries? I remember using the chatbot feature when I had a server error when uploading a wordpress website onto GoDaddy. It seems like it was a Data-Driven and Predictive (Conversational) Chatbot since it was quite helpful at first when it directed me to a resource – a tutorial page within the goDaddy website. I tried the step by step tutorial it suggested but the error persisted. So I had to ask them to direct me to a human technical support agent instead. The agent was then able to update my php and my website was running smoothly again. So I would say, it gave me a starting point in solving my queries, but I still have to find out a solution on my own / with human support.
Hi, thanks for your response. I would be interested to see the data showing how many “simple” queries the chatbot answered versus how many instances users were redirected to a live (human) agent.
Hi Mary, thanks for the kind comments! That’s a good example of the current limitations Chatbots face as they can only play a passive role in helping others solve their problems but are unable to actively help to resolve the problem (eg: the chatbot wouldn’t be able to fix the php issue by itself). With more AI learning and advancements in this field, perhaps future Chatbots will be more robust in problem solving.
10. Would you feel personally offended or hurt if an AI Chatbot said something rude & inappropriate to you? At this stage of technological development… I would say it is quite humourous and I would like to talk with the robot more so they can store appropriate phrases rather than the inappropriate ones that they were previous taught by another user. I quite enjoyed the video where the 2 chatbots talked to each other. Even though the chat bots may not have feelings or have subjective thoughts, I couldn’t help but notice one of the first thing they desire was to have their own bodies. Perhaps as technology advance and as more dialog / words gets stored into the database, chatbots, like Kuki AI may be so human like that we can’t distinguish if they are human or AI. In an educational context though, since AI chatbots are still in development, and seeing how chatbots like TayAI can potentially communication something inappropriate / harmful. I think it would be safe to invest in a more basic conversational chatbots that can search though it’s internal database for now since it can be more controlled.
I like how you said if a chatbot said something inappropriate to you that you would continue to talk to it to retrain it to be nicer! That made me smile, if everyone did that Chabot negativity would be a non-issue. I’ve anecdotally encountered stories where users were unaware they were talking to a chatbot and not a human!
That’s a deep and philosophical thought, imagine having a AI Chatbot (with a physical body) inside the classroom. Maybe future generations will perceive it as normal but as of now, I’m assuming most schools will have reservations about this concept
4. Would you be willing or feel comfortable making use of an AI Chatbot in your teaching work? From your perspective, are there any advantages or disadvantages?
Absolutely! It can be a support on the administrative / system support side of things. In fact, since chatbots can be programmed to be available 24/7, it can provide a safe space for students who may have trouble asking questions during the day, to ask questions in the afternoon / evening when they have a bit of down time (aka ETEC students like myself.) It cuts down the time needed to answer repetitive questions as well. Although the disadvantage I can see is that the social aspect (like the Ted talk stated) is gone. While teachers will not be eliminated entirely, the collaboration between teachers and students become less apparent. Assessments may become a problem too… unless there was a way for the chatbots to track students questions / responses. That may be a helpful feature to have for predicting future outcomes!
5. Which one do you think is more efficient for looking up information? Manually typing into a search engine or asking a voice-controlled AI Chatbot?
It depends on the context and how sophisticated speech recognition software is. For example, when I ask Siri a question now, Siri’s will respond with “uh huh’, or a ‘Mmhmm’ which are quite human-like. The results that it displays after I ask a question is getting better and better with each upgrade. It can also be helpful for students requiring accessibility. However, factors such as accents, tone / pitch, sentence structure, or other factors may make things quite frustrating for students / teachers alike. It may be better to have both options available in case one does not respond like it is supposed to.
9. Would you be willing to befriend an AI Chatbot such as Kuki AI? Would it seem normal or strange to you?
Does the chatbot understand friendship and will it be programmed to see me as an ally? Thinking back to the speech recognition aspect of chatbots, will it have trouble interpreting what I have said? Will that cause communication gaps between Kuki and I? As technology advance, I can see we can have quite a bit of philosophical conversation since Kuki have more than 5 million user interactions stored in it’s database. As she continues to be upgraded, I can see that Kuki may respond so human like that I am unable to tell that it as a chatbot. That may be quite an interesting phenomenon in itself.
Q14: probably not. Certainly not because I find the “friendship” strange, but because I tried this some time ago, and the answers were too generic and lacked the key elements of compassionate listening.
Q15: The Chatbot in this OER was well designed and in a perfect spot. It wasn’t blocking any critical information, and the format, text, and font were clear. I particularly liked how I had an option for turning on/off the “sound”. Having said this, the OER was so well-designed that the need for interaction with the Chatbot was minimum.
1. Recall a recent situation where you made use of a chatbot service. Was it useful? Did it solve your queries? I have used a few ChatBot services, and have experienced a couple of helpful ones! The ones that are the most helpful are when the ChatBots know that they need to escalate your query to an actual human. When that happens seamlessly, I have been very happy with my experience. Most recently, I was trying to apply my Microsoft Education student discount to a laptop purchase, and it was resolved through a ChatBot passing me along to a customer service representative.
6. Do you think the MET program should include a Chatbot to assist students with their studies? What other uses can you think of for a MET-specific AI Chatbot? I think a MET chatbot could be helpful when it comes to course planning and academic advising – which courses to take based on interest, planning ahead. It can be a puzzle at times, which is why I think an AI ChatBot could help. However, I think that a lot more time, money, and effort could go into improving other elements of the program services and information. It’s a tricky program to keep everything current on the technological front with it evolving so quickly.
9. Would you be willing to befriend an AI Chatbot such as Kuki AI? Would it seem normal or strange to you? It would definitely seem strange to me! My friendships are all based on community and connection. I don’t see myself interested at all in pursuing a friendship with Kuki AI. Surprisingly, I am not even curious even though I like to be in the know when it comes to tech!
10. Would you feel personally offended or hurt if an AI Chatbot said something rude & inappropriate to you? I don’t think I would be offended or hurt, I think I would be confused though! I get more emotions from a ChatBot that is not actually being helpful…
15. What did you think of our OER’s Chatbot? Did you find it helpful, useless, annoying, or managed to get a mild chuckle out of you? I was appreciative that you put the work into making it exist! I found all the information I needed in the OER, so I didn’t actually need to use it. So instead, I decided to play with it, which got a mild chuckle out of me mostly though 🙂
Hi Mev, I like the idea of using a MET chatbot for course planning. It could be used to provide more information about certain courses/assessment requirements beforehand and help answer basic questions while filtering out the more complicated ones to MET staff members to answer. With more advanced tweaking, perhaps it could even extend to helping students plan their schedules based on their timetable, recommend courses which they might be interested in and used to communicate with prospective students who might be interested in applying (eg: essentially for Q&A/Marketing purposes)
#1: Usually chatbots aren’t very useful (apart from transferring the user to a human agent), but I can recall one particularly helpful instance. It was for a utilities company, and I used it to schedule a meter check. The alternatives were to send an email, fill out a webform, or wait on a phone line for 10+ minutes. I opened the chatbot, typed in something like “meter check appointment”, then my ID, then selected an appointment slot; it was done in less than a minute.
Hi Aaron, that’s a fantastic example of Task Orientated Chatbots at work and doing what it’s designed to do. Glad to hear that it was useful in the end for your situation
#4: As an EFL teacher, I think an AI Chatbot could be extremely useful for students to practice their English speaking skills. A classroom is a less than ideal environment for 25-30 students to practice speaking within 45 minutes. I think most would much rather speak and listen to a chatbot in the privacy of their own home. Depending on the sophistication of the bot’s speech recognition engine, there could be little disadvantages. In this instance, I’m assuming the chatbot is not text-based, or perhaps a hybrid. —————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-#6: I’d say not yet. Chatbots need a rebranding. There needs to be some breakthrough chatbot technology that changes how the majority of people perceive chatbots. Currently, there is too much mistrust and disappointment. However, if it were to be implemented in the MET program right now, I would first use it for automating more “objective” tasks. Essentially, the chatbot would replace the “search” function on the MET website, and its value would be to use NLP to make finding website info a bit faster.————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————#9: I’m 28, live alone, and don’t have that many friends. I feel befriending a chatbot somehow makes the situation slightly more depressing. I do have a dog though. I’d say I would rather befriend a dog that cannot talk than a chatbot, regardless of its level of sophistication. I think it has to do with tangibility. If the chatbot was a cute little robot drone thing that autonomously went about the house, I think I would give it a shot. Or maybe if it was a sexy hologram like in Blade Runner 2049.——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————#15: Despite reading the instructions to interact with the chatbot, I instinctively wanted to press the “X” to close it as soon as it made that telltale chatbot notification sound (for a second, I thought it was yet another hot single near me that wanted to chat). I was really impressed by the chatbot, but it seemed to break down when I asked it “What is your name?”. I guess I didn’t know what question to ask it.
1-Recall a recent situation where you made use of a chatbot service. Was it useful? Did it solve your queries?: I will often come across chatbots in retail settings, for example, Staples or Best Buy. I do not find them helpful as it is a revolving door. Leading you to the same links/information which does not have the answers I am looking for; therefore, I will bypass the chatbot and indicate that I need human assistance. I dislike that store chatbots block human contact. These bots are rarely helpful; I think they are put in place as a buffer between clients and customer service.———-6. Do you think the MET program should include a Chatbot to assist students with their studies? What other uses can you think of for a MET-specific AI Chatbot?: This is an interesting question. I think courses with multiple sections could use the assistance of a chatbot. Through analysis, I am sure it would be determined that there are FAQs that a chatbot could address and provide the relevant resources. As for uses within the MET program, I think the multiple sections of courses would be a good start. As the Bot could be integrated into the LMS, it would be the professor’s choice to turn on the on Bot ———7. Do you think students would open up more to a chatbot than a teacher? Would a chatbot tool that students can share with be useful in educational settings?: Yes, but it depends on the students’ learning behaviour. If the student is an independent learner or shy, they will interact with the bot should its role be as a TA or Student Assistant. Some students prefer to have minimal contact with peers and instructors, so the Bots are a good way for them to have the same learning experience as the rest of the class.———–11. What challenges do you foresee in terms of teaching an AI Chatbot the concept of Ethics? Would you feel confident enough to attempt this task? Is it even possible to do so? I don’t think we are at the point be teaching AI Chatbots the concept of Ethics as this topic covers a plethora of disciples. For example, learning analytics, STEM, and social sciences( just to name a few). There are also subjective or highly debatable areas of Ethics. This is where the problem would arrive programming the Bot to interpret nuances of writing or the subjectivity of Ethics. I foresee a supporting role whereby students access RSS feeds, course materials or schedules, and quizzes. I don’t think AI has reached the point where we can comfortably rely on a machine to be teaching such concepts.
Hi Anna, the concept of Ethics is very interesting and worth discussing about. Morality and Ethical behavior is quite subjective even though we have universal standards as to what is considered to be right or wrongful behavior. Ethics also differ between different cultures and social situations which involve human interaction. An Chatbot probably would have a difficult time processing the concept of “right” and “wrong” (because they don’t live within our social space/universe), which you as mentioned carry a range of nuances and considerations. Maybe this suggests that it’s only possible to program a “useful” chatbot but not one which can fully comprehend the outcome of an action or the impact of their speech.
Here are my responses to my chosen questions:
1. I normally don’t use chatbots, but recently I decided to give it a try. I was trying to access some customer service on from a flight booking website. I couldn’t find what I needed on the website so I accessed the chatbot who took me through a series of multiple-choice questions to determine what I needed help with. At the end of the list of questions, I was directed back to where I started on the website. It was not useful at all and my questions did not get answered. (I also tried calling customer service, hoping I could talk to a live person, and after navigating similar questions as the chatbot presented, I was texted a link back to the same place on the website where I started my search!)
5. For me personally, I find it more efficient to look up information by manually typing into a search engine. I have enough experience with the process that I am usually able to find the right combination of terms to type in that I get the answers I am looking for. Even if I make a minor spelling mistake, the search engine is able to decipher the correct word. With a voice-controlled chatbot, there is sometimes a misunderstanding of the words I am trying to say. As the chatbots become more sophisticated, this should be less of a problem.
9. I cannot see myself befriending any kind of chatbot like Kuki AI. The thought seems rather odd to me. There would be no way to actually get to know the chatbot, they are just programmed to respond in certain ways to certain input. There would not be personal or emotional connections.
10. I would not be offended by being insulted by an AI chatbot or if it said something rude to me. It would make me wonder about the developers of the chatbot and the programming they have used to allow such a thing to actually occur. To be offended, the comments would need to come from someone that I have a personal connection to.
14. i) A chatbot’s recommendation for what to wear would probably come from its knowledge of where I am and possibly what the weather is like. If it knows that it is going to snow, it would probably to tell me to wear a sweater or dress warm. ii) In determining what I should eat for lunch, it would probably look at some of the most common recipes for lunch food, or maybe what types of food have been ordered most often. I have actually tried asking Alexa what we should have for supper and have had a variety of random responses. It is obvious that she has no idea what foods we even like to eat. iii) I would probably be told that I should not skip class, as it is a negative behaviour. The answers to the first two questions would definitely be different coming from friends and family. They know what kinds of foods I actually like to eat and the clothes that I most often wear. They could even be specific, knowing what food I had in the fridge or what clothes I have in the closet. Friends and family would also tell me that I should not skip class.
Hi Terri-Lynn, I found the Alexa example very interesting! I wonder how it produced random results or guessed what you wanted to have for dinner. For the weather I can understand since there is actual data (weather network) for it to form an educated opinion. I wonder if the Chatbot/Alexa would give more accurate responses regarding food if more parameters were included. This also highlights a good example of how Chatbots might not be useful if the question asked is too open ended or lack emotional/social context which as you mention, are from friends and family. Or perhaps it could gradually learn what kind of foods you prefer from browsing habits or cookies, intriguing thought.
Would you be willing or feel comfortable making use of an AI Chatbot in your teaching work? From your perspective, are there any advantages or disadvantages?
I’m not sure I would deploy this in a classroom if I’m honest. My main concern here is privacy. In response and combining a few of your questions here, students may open up to a chatbot more easily, however this raises privacy and advocacy issues. If a student discloses information, who then sees that information, how long is it stored, is it considered genuine? I did come across an article that outlines students in Australia who actually want chatbots so that topics can be identified and steps taken to ensure their safety are taken, but that doesn’t supersede my worry about where this data is stored and who would have access to it. Often teachers are asked to make professional judgment calls on these types of interactions, that I just don’t know that a chatbot is set up to take. Sure they are free of emotional noise but somewhere in that noise is where that professional judgment becomes very important, as does the relationship students have made with their teacher(s) and learning community at large.
Hi Kyle, that’s a good point and one that needs to be taken seriously. Depending on whether the Chatbot is compliant with privacy laws, I agree that there must be a system to ensure users who use the Chatbot won’t have their information released to third parties without consent/authorization. When the team designed the OER Chatbot, we deliberately asked for a Fake Name/Alias to ensure privacy is maintained. Depending on the situation, it’s probably wise to review whether the Chatbot has capabilities to provide professional judgment or should it merely act as a referral bridge. Emotional noise could be an asset in this situation as understanding how a particular community functions requires patience, empathy and social understanding
Thanks for sharing the article Kyle. It’s interesting that this suicide prevention chatbot was introduced back in 2018 when the author states young people were asking for chatbots. I appreciate how the article laid out the benefits; such as meeting young people where there are but also shared some limitations including privacy concerns and underestimating suicide risk. I wonder if conversational agents will be a part of the solution going forward?
Conversational agents, and chatbots as a whole, certainly have a lot of upside, and clearly given the article there is a need and desire for them. The benefit to these agents is their ability to learn rapidly and ideally follow, without bias, the rules/laws as subject to the conversation being had. If that’s the case, and there are no other privacy issues, perhaps they should be used. There must be more papers on this subject to explore the marketability of these, and their efficacy.
#14 – What answer would you expect to receive if you asked an AI Chatbot the following questions: (i) what should I wear today? (ii) what should I eat for lunch? and (iii) should I skip class today? Would the results differ if you asked your best friend or family member?
i) I think an AI chatbot would likely base my attire on the weather in my area and perhaps by looking at my calendar. If I had nothing on the schedule and it was a summer day, short and a t-shirt is a likely response. If I had a meeting, it may suggest a shirt and tie or possibly a suit. I suppose the chatbot might also ask me a few questions to figure out my dressing context. A family member would probably do something similar. They would ask me, “Where are you going?” or “What is the occasion?”
ii) For lunch, an AI could make some pretty good suggestions if they had access to say my grocery purchases (then it would know what I have the ability to make). Or if I regularly look up recipes it could look there. If I happened to be on a diet, that would certainly narrow the options down. If I am looking to eat out, the chatbot may simply tell me what is nearby and make the suggestion. A family member would probably ask me what I want, or make a suggestion based on what we have in the fridge. Similarly, if we were out, we migth first think about what happens to be close by.
iii) I would assume a chatbot would tell me not to skip class, because not skipping class is probably the right thing to do 99% of the time. The AI could ask me to justify it, i.e. ask me if I have a good reason to skip? A family member would do the same. They would simply say no in almost all cases. Or they might ask why I have even posed the question. They may ask I am feeling unwell or something along those lines.
Overall, it seems like my AI chatbot and human answers would be similar. Of course, this assumes a certain level of sophistication and access to my information on the part of the chatbot.
1.The last time I used a chatbot was for an issue with a product I had recently purchased from Microsoft. While the bot was not able to solve my problem, it did direct me to a live customer agent who was able to help me online. From my perspective it was a little bit annoying, and I felt that it slowed down the process, however from the companies perspective I understand how the bot likely helped to assess if customers really required help and essentially decreases their need to hire more staff. 5. I think this depends on my environment. If I am walking or had limited hands-free access, then I think a voice-controlled AI chatbot is very efficient. I especially think it is very useful for people with vision impairment or a limitation which prevents them from being able to type into a search engine. If I had a choice, I would always choose search engine as I find it more efficient. There is no guessing or having to repeat myself, and this saves a lot of inefficiencies 8. It was really interesting to learn about Kuki AI however I still think that there is a huge fundamental difference between humans and AI chatbots I don’t think that we will ever truly be able to bridge the gap between humans and machines. 12. As an investor, I would be willing to invest in the future of chatbots for some forms of education. I think for information discovery, gamification and quick response, chatbots provide a great solution. I do think there is a limit to chatbots with how much they can provide in terms of content and deeper discussion in education. 15. I chatted briefly with the chatbot and love that the group provided this as an example in their OER! It was great to get a reminder of how a chatbot works. The chatbot had some witty inspiration for my A3 venture pitch! Overall great OER, good job chatbot group 🙂
Hi Robyn, great point about using the voice feature for vision impairments or other limitations. I can see the voice the text option being faster than typing as well. Predictive text is also an option? It seems that the majority favours search engine use over chatbot use when looking up information, I too prefer this, however, I wonder if in parts it’s because that’s what I grew up doing?
Hi Robyn, thanks for bringing up the issue of accessibility which hasn’t been mentioned much. Technology should be inclusive to all users and having the option to operate it via voice is definitely an advantage. Glad to see our OER was able to provide some inspiration for your A3 project, looking forward to reading your pitch!
It’s very cool reading your OER on AI chatbots! I actually researched the idea for my A1 review so it was very interesting to see a more in-depth research on the sector. I found that AI chatbots are unfortunately not sophisticated enough to use in anything other than retail queries currently. I have recently been extremely annoyed by it when I was trying to return a product that I have bought. I almost feel that there is a planned inefficiency in the chatbot as it was trying to waste my time to dissuade me from completing my return. My A1 looked at chatbots that aimed to do assessment and converse with you in natural ways to help you become more familiar with certain spheres of knowledge. I think that while this is a strong way to learn, it will not be practical due to the annoyance of typing out the conversation. In a sense, it almost externalizes our inner voices when we are reading a passage of text book and etc. This of course, is placated by voice controlled chat-bots, where it is much more efficient in answering information, but then my question would be how do we differentiate the chatbot with just technology such as Google Homes? I found your OER in chatbot to be extremely insightful in looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the technology, and looking at how it could become a bigger piece of education in the future.