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Chatbots in e-Learning: Transforming Personalized Education

e-Learning technologies are evolving with the arrival of chatbots, which combine the power of Artificial Intelligence and the personal touch of a teacher.

E-Learning or electronic learning involves learning through multimedia environments, gamification and online collaboration. It has helped students interact and engage with the tutors no matter which part of the world they are taking the courses from. E-Learning also presents benefits like reaching out to a mass audience at low costs, flexibility in taking up courses to suit the learner’s schedules and professional requirement. Although e-Learning has rapidly become popular, the average course completion rate among learners is quite low. This has been attributed to a lack of engagement and personal encouragement when the students need it the most. Today, e-Learning technologies are evolving with the arrival of a new element that combines the power of Artificial Intelligence and the personal touch that a teacher offers – this new element is the chatbot. While AI tools can help automate the assessment of students, adjust the curriculum according to their learning abilities and help improve the overall learning process, chatbots can assist the learning process through support mechanisms and teaching key concepts based on previous knowledge.

Chatbots simulate human-like conversation and have been popularly used as virtual assistants till now. Some common examples of AI-driven chatbots are iPhone’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, which help users organize their activities throughout the day and are available 24x7 at their beck and call. Today, chatbots are finding greater importance in the development of e-Learning training programs to personalise the interaction with students while delivering information with an entertainment quotient.

E-Learning chatbots come in varied forms – they could be in the form of a cartoon character or an animated figure, a simulated voice or text stream. They are usually pre-programmed with a database of answers to questions, words, phrases and sometimes with jokes to add humour or helpful hints to help the student perform the tasks. The users also find it easy to communicate with the chatbot, either by typing in the question or phrase or chatting with it verbally; it depends on the chatbot’s in-built software and capabilities.

How can chatbots help provide better e-Learning?

Companies working in the development of e-Learning strategies and consulting are discovering the areas where chatbots can be integrated in the e-Learning courses. Some of the areas where chatbot features can be employed are:

  1. Simulated Guidance
    Using a simulated bot, which plays the role of a character or a guide, the learners can navigate through the course, interact and ask questions to make the learning more personalised. For example, if it’s a language course, the bot can test the students by speaking to them in that language and asking them questions based on their current level of learning. The students can thus participate in their personalised test using a real-life simulated conversation.

  2. For Reinforcement
    We normally incorporate pop quizzes or refresher lessons in between the course to help the students assimilate the information in a more effective way. One can use chatbots for the reinforcement of learning by feeding information at certain trigger points or intervals. For example, if the student has completed certain milestone in the course, the chatbot could pop out to give some interesting trivia on the last topic covered or encourage the student to proceed to the next part of the course.

  3. Social Learning
    Chatbots can also be used to engage with students that are a part of a larger group. Social learning platforms, where many students participate in the course from multiple locations, can effectively use chatbots to interact with the group and initiate discussions between them.

4 styles for your Chatbot mentors

While designing an e-Learning course, developers take care of 3 important elements – the content, the flow of content and in what way the content is delivered. All these three aspects are important for delivering the e-Learning course in the right manner. Usually, courses are designed to deliver information at a pace that is in sync with the pace at which a teacher converses with his class in a traditional classroom setting.

Some e-Learning experts who have highlighted the importance of conversation-driven e-Learning in achieving better outcomes, have identified various styles with which the chatbot can deliver the course to participants. Let’s look at some of these commonly used styles of what are known as ‘chatbot mentors’:

  1. Leadership Style
    Here the mentor gives a clear direction to the course by delivering key concepts, introducing new topics or new business strategies at a uniform pace within a short timeframe. The objective is to deliver the course effectively, and the responsibility to practice the key takeaways or absorb the information at a preferred time and pace lies with the individual learner. This style is very useful for workplace presentations or delivering a traditional workshop in a more innovative way. 

  2. Personal Coach Style
    In this case, the chatbot coaches the learner over a period, to achieve the objectives of the course. Let’s say you want to learn French within 60 days. The course will have daily lessons that will be pushed to you at a convenient time of the day and the mentor will judge your learning status by way of conversational tests – much like a personal tutor you might have had while in school. The learning is gradual but steady, and in small amounts that is easy to grasp.

  3. Managerial Style
    This style of mentorship is useful when you need to train new employees or conduct training on health and safety topics to meet workplace requirements. Since these topics are usually dry and need a lot of resources to make them interesting, companies can use e-Learning tools like chatbots to deliver them more effectively.

  4. Friendly Face Style
    Mentorship using the friendly face style is useful when you need to deliver introductory courses, give a personal touch to the interaction especially when you are onboarding new employees. This chatbot style involves interactive elements such as images, questions and presenting an attractive image of the company. Organizations can use the friendly face style to give an overview of the company values, history or employee benefits and other basic training. This makes the new employees feel welcome and get aligned quickly to the work atmosphere.

Companies developing custom e-learning solutions often use the conversation-driven approach to captivate the audience and present the storyline in a narrative format rather than using a single narrator. With the advent of chatbots in e-Learning platforms, such conversation-driven mentorships can be easily achieved. In the coming days, e-learning technologies will further evolve to help learners benefit from real-time interactive education, partly thanks to these chatbots!

If you have a need to develop e-learning courses, contact us now. Let's get the conversation going! 

Shwetha Bhat | Blogger

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