On 29th June 2023, Turn.io facilitated an online roundtable discussion on "Chatbots in Education." This session featured four prominent organisations: Darsel, EEDI, NewGlobe, and Rising Academies. Together, they explored the innovative use of chatbots for formative assessments in education, fostering knowledge exchange and uncovering effective strategies for integrating chatbot technology into educational settings.
The roundtable aimed to provide a platform for participants to address key topics, exchange valuable insights, and learn from each other's experiences in leveraging chatbot technology to enhance the assessment process. Through vibrant discussions and collaborative discourse, the session opened doors to new perspectives and shed light on the untapped potential of chatbots in education.
As participants engaged in dialogue, the roundtable discussions uncovered fresh insights and strategies for integrating chatbots effectively into educational settings. From showcasing use case studies to exchanging practical knowledge, the session empowered participants and paved the way for future collaborations and advancements in the field of education.
In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the key insights and strategies shared during the roundtable discussion, shedding light on the immense potential chatbots hold in revolutionising formative assessments and enhancing the overall educational experience.
Challenge: Sustaining and scaling educational programs.
In education, organizations face the challenge of sustaining and scaling their programs. Rising Academies and other educational entities have adopted a middle-of-the-road approach to tackle this challenge. They strike a balance between collaborating with government entities and exploring market-based solutions, such as implementing a freemium plan, to create a more sustainable and scalable model.
Rising Academies understand the importance of working with government entities to ensure widespread impact. They can leverage existing infrastructure and resources to reach a larger student population. Simultaneously, they explore market-based approaches, recognising the need to generate revenue to sustain their programs. Implementing a freemium plan allows them to provide quality education while generating income.
Other organisations have adopted a "carrot or stick" approach that combines programmatic and market-based strategies. They focus on providing an exceptional service that appeals to students and schools, encouraging usage and generating revenue. At the same time, they maintain high standards and have a mechanism to hold students accountable for meeting requirements. This combination motivates students to actively engage in the program while ensuring educational outcomes are achieved.
EEDI, another organisation, aims to strike a delicate balance between sustainability and accessibility. While they endeavour to keep most of their product free for schools and students, they have long-term plans to offer premium features directly to parents. This approach allows them to provide widespread access to educational resources while creating revenue-generation opportunities to sustain and scale their programs.
By adopting these diverse approaches, education organisations are navigating the complex landscape of sustaining and scaling educational programs. They understand the need to balance accessibility, quality, and financial sustainability. This middle-of-the-road approach ensures that educational initiatives can reach a broader audience, create a positive impact, and remain viable in the long run.
As the education sector continues to evolve, organisations will need to continually explore innovative models and strategies to strike the right balance between programmatic and market-based approaches. By doing so, they can address the challenge of sustaining and scaling educational programs.
Challenge: Balancing the role of humans and technology.
Striking the right balance between human tutors and technology-driven solutions is a critical educational challenge. Education organisations, like EEDI acknowledge the value of human interaction and incorporate it into their programs. Simultaneously, they recognise the potential of technology, specifically Large Language Models (LLMs), but are mindful of the capabilities and limitations of these tools.
EEDI and similar organisations understand the importance of human tutors in providing personalised support and guidance to students. They acknowledge that technology can enhance the learning experience but cannot fully replace the valuable role of human educators. By integrating human tutors into their programs, these organisations ensure a comprehensive and well-rounded approach that combines the benefits of human interaction with the efficiency and scalability of technology-driven solutions.
However, it is also crucial to understand the capabilities and limitations of LLMs and structure content appropriately. LLMs, such as language models like GPT-3.5, have incredible potential but require contextual understanding to deliver accurate and relevant responses. Education organisations are actively exploring ways to contextualise LLM interactions and create effective prompts to optimise their use. This emerging field focuses on structuring content, especially in subjects like mathematics, to provide the necessary context for LLMs to deliver meaningful responses.
A significant consideration is students' preference regarding human interaction versus chatbot assistance.
Challenge: Using data analytics for educational services and outcomes.
Data analytics plays a pivotal role in understanding student performance, identifying areas for improvement, and tailoring educational content to individual needs. By analysing student data, educators can make diagnostic predictions about students' answers, providing valuable insights into their strengths and weaknesses. This allows for targeted interventions and personalised learning experiences, leading to better outcomes.
Platforms like RORI, for example, utilise question explorers that showcase all the questions on the platform along with the frequency at which students answer them correctly or incorrectly. This information helps educators pinpoint areas where students may struggle or face conceptual challenges. By identifying these "bugs" in the content, educators can iterate on the quality and contextualisation of the material, ensuring a more effective learning experience.
Darsel enables educators to monitor the number of attempts for students to answer a question correctly. By tracking this information, educators can identify patterns and understand each student's learning curve. Additionally, Darsel calculates the percentage of questions a student gets right on their first or second chance, providing insights into their grasp of the subject matter. These metrics enable educators to tailor their instructional approach and provide timely interventions to ensure every student achieves their full potential.
While using data analytics in education offers immense potential, it is crucial to prioritise student privacy and data protection. Educational platforms like EEDI recognise this importance and prioritise student anonymity by anonymising data before sharing it. This ensures that while valuable insights are gained, students' personal identities and sensitive information remain protected.
Data analytics has become a game-changer in educational services and outcomes. By harnessing the power of data, educators and service providers can gain valuable insights into student performance, identify areas for improvement, and deliver personalised learning experiences.
Challenge: Maintaining student interest and motivation.
One of our greatest challenges is maintaining student interest and motivation throughout their learning journey. It's not uncommon for students to lose enthusiasm or become disengaged, especially when faced with the demands of a rigorous academic curriculum. However, our roundtable discussions have shed light on various strategies education organisations employ to tackle this issue head-on. By combining intrinsic and extrinsic motivators and leveraging innovative tools and partnerships, we can create a stimulating and rewarding learning environment for our students.
To maintain student engagement effectively, striking a balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators is crucial. Intrinsic motivators, such as personal interests and curiosity, tap into the internal factors that drive students' passion for learning. Organisations like Rising Academies have implemented an automated outgoing message system that asks students when they would like to return, fostering a sense of ownership and personal investment in their education.
On the other hand, extrinsic motivators provide external rewards or incentives to encourage students' commitment. NewGlobe, for instance, utilises reminders and collaborates closely with teachers to provide encouragement and small prizes as incentives. These organisations foster a positive and motivating learning environment that keeps students engaged and eager to excel by recognising and celebrating students' achievements.
Darsel has implemented student and school leaderboards bolstered by recognition from both teachers and the Ministry of Education. This approach fuels healthy competition among students and instils a sense of pride and accomplishment when their efforts are acknowledged. By publicly celebrating student achievements, Darsel motivates students to push their limits and strive for excellence.
Other strategies include cartoon tutorial videos, and partnerships with educational influencers like TikTok stars, which RORI and EEDI are experimenting with to create educational videos.
Maintaining student interest and motivation throughout their learning journey is an ongoing challenge. However, education organisations can create an environment where students feel inspired, engaged, and driven to succeed by employing a multifaceted approach that combines innovative technological tools, partnerships with influential figures, and a well-balanced mix of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.
The roundtable discussion provided a glimpse into the immense potential of chatbots to revolutionise the assessment process, personalise learning experiences, and drive innovation in education. As educators continue to embrace technology as a powerful tool, the insights shared during this session will undoubtedly contribute to the growth and transformation of education in the digital age.
However, this is just the beginning of the conversation. To continue the momentum and facilitate ongoing knowledge sharing, Turn.io has created the Chat for Education WhatsApp group. This platform offers practitioners, educators, and individuals interested in leveraging chat technology the opportunity to join a vibrant community where they can freely share, learn, and collaborate.
Join today at https://bit.ly/Chatforeducation, and let's shape the future of education together!
View the full session here