How Conversational AI is Disrupting the Edtech Industry?

The COVID-19 crisis has changed the way we lived some time back. Education which was channelized through schools/institutions in different formats, has now got a new look. Virtual classrooms, online exams, online forums, activities, etc. are no longer introduced by few. And soon, it will be a new normal for every education organization moving forward.

EdTech is the now the buzz and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making significant inroads in the education industry. What has helped the most is the fact that the younger generation is quick to embrace new technologies. Integrated with Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and other social media apps, the Conversational AI in the form of educational chatbots can engage students and provide short but valuable information.

What is Conversational AI?

Conversational AI, as a subset of Artificial Intelligence (AI), can enable the user and the machine to interact in the user’s spoken or written natural language, just as he/she would, when interacting with a human. It places the responsibility on the technology interface to learn what the user wants and to adapt accordingly, rather than the user having to learn the technology, saving time, and enhancing the user experience.

Ease of Learning

The most useful and sought-after application of AI is the automated, intelligent tutoring system that provides a personalized learning environment to study in and then analyses the students’ responses and their patterns of interaction with the learning content.

  • AI chatbots can interact with students in these environments, either through a series of standard text messages or multimedia such as images, videos, audios, and document files, which would make them feel like it is a regular classroom.
  • Lectures can be broken down into interactive conversation flows with the help of engagement tools and impressive UI so students can learn anywhere and at any time.
  • The chatbot can continuously assess each student’s level of understanding and provide them the next part of the lecture as per their progress.
  • After learning the topic, the bot can present the students with adaptive assessments. The results gathered from these assessments can be visualized in interactive dashboards to better understand how the students are learning different subjects and topics.

Enhanced Student Engagement

Students prefer texting to any other form of communication. They are active across all instant messaging platforms and social media. Whether they want to communicate with each other, research topics, or find help with their assignments, they reach out through these platforms.

  • This gives us the opportunity to enhance the students’ learning process and increase engagement by integrating AI chatbots on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and others.
  • These apps can then act as a medium for student-teacher communication, just like in the classroom, lab, or activity clubs.
  • This will make it easier for the students to get information on their assignments, due dates, and other important upcoming events.

Safe and Secure Feedback

A very important and significant aspect of the learning process is feedback, whether it comes from a student and is directed towards the teachers or the other way around. Feedback helps students in identifying the topics that require extra attention, as well as, helps teachers figure out areas that they can improve their teaching abilities in.

  • Conversational chatbots can conduct surveys such as feedback on how the courses could be improved, how did the students like their previous lecture, or the overall quality of their learning experience.
  • Similarly, the teachers can provide feedback on the tests or assignments submitted by the students.
  • The bot can collect all the feedback and analyze it to highlight the most common points mentioned, giving the teachers the opportunity to identify gaps in their teaching efforts and do better.
  • The teachers’ feedback allows the students to identify the areas where they need to do some extra work. This not only leads to a deeper learning experience but also helps them understand lessons and course concepts better.

AI-Based Teaching Assistants

Students often put ‘do my assignment’ requests over the internet to find an assistant who can help them in completing their assignment or to get a clearer explanation of a specific topic that they are struggling with. Similarly, teachers also want help in simplifying their everyday tasks.

  • Conversational bots can act as virtual teaching assistants to take the burden off and help teachers focus more on providing quality education to their students.
  • The bots can answer the students’ queries about the course module, lesson plans, lecture schedules, assignments, and deadlines.
  • They can monitor the learning progress of the students, provide personalized feedback, and recommend more relevant learning content by analyzing their learning skills and capabilities.

24/7 Student Assistance

This generation is so used to getting everything instantly — whether it is sending an email, making a purchase, or posting a picture — it likes it done in as few clicks as possible. The educational institutions must also speed up their student communication process to draw the attention of this fast-paced generation.

  • With millions of prospective students enrolling in colleges and universities across the world, the number of queries each institution receives over its website is massive. These are mostly repetitive, such as queries regarding the admission process, courses, scholarships, fees, etc.
  • Chatbots can easily step in and save all the time that it would take to manually reply to these queries. This would not only save a great deal of time for the students but would also diminish the burden of the institutions.
  • “The most promising opportunity to use this technology is to support a much more personalized approach to on-campus services that still appeals to a large crowd. The system will also help lower the burden on stressed-out faculty, as they no longer have to explain the same things over and over to different students.”

Better Support for Students

It is imperative that every institution guides its students thoroughly by giving them timely and accurate information. But it is nearly impossible to make sure each student is being taken care of fully without any technological intervention.

  • An AI chatbot can help students get updates on almost anything — admission processes, assignment deadlines, upcoming events, course modules, and more.
  • The chatbots can further help new students find out more about scholarships, hostel facilities, library memberships, and so on.

In Conclusion

In the unprecedented times that we all currently find ourselves in, virtual learning is set to become an essential part of every educational institution. Conversational AI will not only benefit the overall teacher-student interaction and improve the classroom environment, but will also enhance the learning experience for the students.

Source: MC.AI

The Secrets of Great Teamwork

Today’s teams are different from the teams of the past: They’re far more diverse, dispersed, digital, and dynamic (4-D). But while teams face new hurdles, their success still hinges on a core set of fundamentals for group collaboration.

The basics of team effectiveness were identified by J. Richard Hackman – a pioneer in the field of organizational behavior who studied that personalities, attitudes, or behavioral styles of team members do not deter collaboration. Moving further, the modern teams require a 4th critical condition to eliminate the “us versus them” thinking. He came up with ‘4 Enabling Conditions’ that help teams to achieve high performance-

1. Compelling Direction

Having a direction energizes, orients, and engages team members, giving their team a solid foundation. A team will not feel inspired if the members don’t know what their common goal is.

These goals need to challenge them – modest goals do not motivate. But, they should not be so challenging that they discourage team-morale. These goals should also be consequential. People care about goals if they gain something from it – like incentives, promotion, and recognition, or even satisfaction and a sense of meaning. Having a direction acts to unite team members irrespective of their values and backgrounds, especially at the global level.

2. Strong Structure

Teams perform well when they have the right mixture of members who have a balanced set of skills among themselves. Not every person can be technically superior and highly social. Diversity in age, gender, and race help bring diversity in knowledge, views, and perspectives, which pushes teams to be more creative and avoid groupthink. Increasing members is a good way to ensure diversity, but it also leads to increased costs and also poor communication. The aim should be to have the minimum number – no less and no more.

Tasks assigned should be designed carefully. Not everything has to be creative, some tasks do require dull, hard work. But these tasks can be made motivating by allocating significant responsibility to the team and providing them with performance feedback.

One thing to watch out for are destructive dynamics. Everyone has seen team members withhold information, force people to conform, avoid responsibility, cast blame, etc. These can be minimized by establishing clear rules. They can be a small list of things that should ALWAYS BE DONE (like being on time or letting others speak) and that should NEVER BE DONE (like interrupting others). Norms make it easier to bridge gaps between nationalities, regionalities, and cultures.

3. Supportive Context

Right support enables effectiveness. It includes maintaining a reward system that recognizes performance, an information system that gives access to data, an educational system that facilitates training, and also resources those secure materials required for doing the job, like funds and technical assistance. Although not everyone gets everything, trying to secure these is a good start. Ensuring supportive context becomes necessary among geographically distributed teams. Because what might seem like a cultural clash can easily be a result of differences in resources.

4. Shared Mindset

Despite being a team, members don’t perceive themselves as a single group, but as a sub-group. While this is human nature, it also leads to every group viewing themselves as slightly favorable and superior to others – a habit that gives rise to tension and hinders collaboration. A good solution is to develop a common mindset by fostering a common identity and understanding.

Another issue is that of incomplete information. Experts in certain fields tend to have more information than those who are not, and this information is not useful if it is not shared or if these members are new or are dispersed across the globe or both. Shared knowledge spikes collaboration. A different reason for incomplete information is digital communication impeding information exchange. It could occur due to language differences or simply because digital communication is not as effective at transmitting non-verbal cues, which are an important aid in face-to-face meetings.

Whatever the reason be, fortunately, there are ways that leaders can foster a shared identity and understanding, and eradicate all that hinders cooperation and information exchange. A good way is to ensure that everyone feels valued for their contributions toward the team’s overall goals.

Evaluating your team

The enabling conditions make for a good recipe to build an effective from scratch. But, they can also be used on existing teams by focusing on the four fundamentals. To check if your efforts are working, there are three criteria: output, collaborative ability, and members’ individual development. They are a good way to calibrate the team. Have regular, superficial monitoring to rate your team in each of the four conditions as well as the three criteria. The weak areas will be where you need to focus on and might even help you understand where the problems are rooted. Next, also have less frequent, deeper checks if/when problems emerge, like poor performance or some crisis. You can increase the impact of your intervention by holding a full-scale workshop for all the members to discuss and compare results together. Comparing assessments give you complete data as well as reveals differences in viewpoints, which leads to deeper insights.

Teamwork is tough and complex in today’s times. As teams constantly go virtual, global and project-driven, handling these teams become equally tricky. In such a scenario, having a systematic approach to analyze your team set-up and identify areas of improvement can take you a very long way.

Source: Harvard Business Review