Instant messaging is already an integral part of the average student’s life, and it can also have many uses to boost their education. Additionally, advances in technology mean chatbots are becoming increasingly versatile, and are now capable of enhancing the classroom experience in many ways. These technologies can compliment each other to support students both inside and outside of the classroom and providing additional learning opportunities and methods.
Here are 7 of the most effective potential uses of chatbots and instant messaging in the modern classroom:
1. Student Feedback
Student feedback is vital to creating a more effective classroom and teaching approach. Getting feedback from students presents several challenges however. Sending students detailed surveys and questionnaires can take up their time and get low response rates. While interviews enable teachers to dig deeper into students’ opinions and feedback, these are very time consuming for teachers. Furthermore, students may give less honest answers due to social pressure.
As a feedback tool, chatbots provide the best of both worlds. Chatbots allow students to give feedback in a conversational format, interpreting their answers and using branching surveys to respond to their feedback. Chatbot surveys can get triple the response rate of feedback requests sent via email.
2. Virtual Teaching Assistants
Chatbots can provide valuable teaching assistance both in and out of class. In class, this can enable students to ask quick questions and check information without interrupting the flow of a lesson.
For example, if a student doesn’t understand a key term or formula they could message the chatbot for clarification. For complex questions, the chatbot could forward the query to the teacher, to be answered at the end of class.
With the latest advances in AI and natural language processing, some chatbots are even able to handle the most complex questions and provide highly specific responses. For example, when Ashok Goel, a professor of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech, used a chatbot to respond to his students, most of them didn’t realise they were talking to an AI.
This also enhances learning outside of the classroom, helping students check information for their homework or revision without wasting time logging into your site or finding the right answer on Google. Besides helping students get information faster, a chatbot able to provide schedule details and FAQs can greatly reduce the number of times teachers have to send the same answer to different students.
3. Chatbot Campus Guides
Besides providing schedule information, there are many other ways a chatbot can help students stay organized. They can also be used to give new students directions to their next class, or give guidance on submitting their assignments. Asking a chatbot is often much easier than searching a school’s site for department-specific rules and requirements. Furthermore, automating routine messages like these is estimated to save an average of 30% of associated costs.
Students can also use chatbots to get information about any campus or student support services, enabling them to access those services without the need to discuss personal topics with their teacher.
4. Automated Tests and Quizzes
Chatbots can be a useful studying tool to help students revise with quizzes and tests. Making this content available through instant messaging and social media means students can always test their knowledge at a time that suits them.
As a result, students can make use of their time to answer a few questions even if they are on the move. Logging into your site to use web quizzes can be slow on a mobile connection, whereas instant messaging is fast even on a poor connection.
5. Individual Student Support
In addition to giving automated responses and scripted interactions, chatbots can pass the conversation on to teacher or tutors. This makes it easier for students to get help when they have a complex question, and is faster and less formal than sending an email.
This enables teachers to be more aware of students who are struggling to keep up and provide individual support. Being able to have their discussion with a chatbot sent on to a teacher can also make it easier for students to open up about issues they are having. Making these services easier to find and access improves student perceptions of institutional services, which is the most important factor in student retention.
6. Group Discussion
Providing group instant messaging for students lets them work together and continue to discuss what they are learning outside the classroom. Creating a classroom atmosphere when students are not able to meet up to study in person can improve motivation and productivity, as well as letting students help and teach each other. Group messaging bots can also be used to let students take part in group quizzes and tests, creating a competitive element to their independent learning.
To provide the most productive environment, it can be a good idea to use a dedicated study group app, as these are free from distracting content and unrelated social interactions.
7. Time Management
Scheduled instant messages can help students be ready for class, reminding them when to log in or arrive, and providing important deadlines and dates.
Using a texting app in education to send SMS reminders can offer additional benefits however. Texts are more likely to be opened immediately and don’t need an online connection, making them more effective for sending urgent messages. Additionally, a texting app can be integrated with your schedule to send reminders automatically, reducing human error if the schedule is changed.
Chatbots and instant messaging will play a key role in the future of education, not just during the current crisis. These technologies are already ubiquitous and offer many benefits to both educators and students. Adapting your teaching approach to include these technologies can upgrade your classroom experience and set students up for success.