Chatbots as smart teaching assistants for students


Chatbots are everywhere. They are found in almost every area from e-commerce, information retrieval, automatic answer machines, to banking, ticket reservations, health, and entertainment.

A growing body of evidence suggests that these computer programs, designed to simulate natural human-like conversation with its users, have the potential to change the way students learn and acquire information.

Chatbots in education have the potential to significantly improve learning outcomes and student satisfaction. With integrated artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots can be used as smart teaching assistants, capable of initiating intelligent conversations with students. They use natural language conversation which increases flexibility and engagement for students.

Well suited to the student-centered learning approach, chatbots can ask questions, give answers to questions, retrieve information, visualize the contents, explore online content, provide useful information, establish the knowledge that the students has to learn, and propose possible solutions to the students individually, thereby creating an interactive and fun e-learning environment and improving the learning outcomes.

As virtual personal assistants or tutors, chatbots make the learning process more engaging, interesting and entertaining for the students, while freeing up teachers from responding to repetitive questions.

Rather than memorization or having the instructor hand down information to them, students can cognitively construct knowledge through their new experiences and interactions. Chatbots can improve dialog-based learning by facilitating interactions between students and instructors, as well as between students and peers.

Unlike other learning technologies such as pedagogical agents, Chatbots interact with students in a synchronous manner, allowing them to respond to individual intents. This keeps students in the driver’s seat and allows them to actively control their learning, which is a key success factor for effective learning.

Chatbots allow students to receive personalized assistance in a risk-free environment by allowing them to practice their language skills at any time and place. Students can apply their knowledge in a simulated real-life situation by providing them with daily conversation contexts. This lowers anxiety and increases motivation to communicate.

Chatbots in education can also provide feedback to students about their performance and can trigger metacognitive thinking processes by synchronously discussing student learning behaviors. This increases student motivation in learning and strengthens their self-perception.

There are so many other benefits in using chatbot technology in education. Chatbots are low cost, interactive, take less time to obtain answers, and have the ability to operate 24/7. It can provide responses to repetitive or frequently asked questions that can easily be resolved, and give access to learning contents when required. In addition, students can refresh their memory by using chatbots to help recall, revise and remember what they have studied. This means that chatbots can help provide individual learning support with limited investment of financial and organizational resources.

The roles of chatbots in education have educational and non-educational purposes. Non-educational roles include admission services, library services, academic advising, and student time management. According to studies, most students prefer using chatbot technology because chatbots are able to give direct answers instead of links for further research. They prefer chatbots due to their convenience in comparison to other communication methods. Around 65 percent of students said the chatbot made the course more personal, and 84 percent said push notifications helped them work more efficiently on course requirements.

Benefits of using chatbots in learning

  • Quickness – The chatbot provides instant responses. It increases user satisfaction by speeding up response times.
  • Flexibility – The chatbot can be used at any time anywhere via any device.
  • Convenience – The chatbot is easily accessible whenever needed. It is available twenty-four hours a day.
  • Administrative support – Chatbot takes off all administrative load of teachers.
  • Feedback – Chatbots collect students’ feedback efficiently.
  • Interest – Chatbot stimulates interest in learning.

In customer service, the implementation of chatbots saves costs by replacing nearly all human assistants. On average, a chatbot interaction with a customer saves them a cost of 0.70 $ per interaction compared to traditional support conversations. On the other hand, chatbots are not meant to take the place of humans in the classroom but rather to provide adequate support and assistance to students, instructors, and university administrators. They open the door for educational institutions to allow students to self-serve, which is essential in the new world of asynchronous learning. As a result, students will be less reliant on teachers and staff for answers, allowing for the deeper connection they’ve always desired.