Post-secondary institutions went through dramatic changes to accommodate students during the pandemic. The most notable change was switching in-person classes to an online platform.
The rise of COVID-19 has led some companies, as well as universities and colleges, to improve their online customer service using automated chat functions.
Artificially intelligent chatbots can be used in place of staff and faculty members to serve students by answering simple questions. Although the answers are not intricate and detailed, the chatbot services are fast and sufficient for the most frequently asked questions.
Since online learning has been a large part of education, chatbots are definitely a part of the future. Although advanced technologies assisting students better than humans can is doubtful, with time and improvement chatbots could become a permanent option.
Chatbots are easy to access and can answer students 24 hours a day without extensive queue times or scheduling. Using this option in addition to letting students speak to a staff member for simple questions could save post-secondary institutions money and time, and help with any schedule-based frustration for students.
The potential downfall could be the limitations of what students can ask. Since chatbots are programmed and cannot answer questions independently, they might not be able to answer all or every question a student has.
As a student who has been put on hold for over an hour when speaking to a staff member, I felt my anxiety building as the minutes passed and gradually became hopeless. I remember feeling confused and forgotten because of the extensive wait time. Needless to say, I prefer fast and easy service after my not-so-great experience. Some negative experiences like mine could be avoided if post-secondary institutions implemented chatbots for students.
Chatbots can also save both post-secondary institutions and students time. Chatbots do not have the same work expectations or needs that humans have like pay and required breaks, so universities and colleges that have high request volumes can benefit from using powered bots.
If an average classroom has around 30 students and one instructor teaches four classes, that is 120 students the instructor has to manage. Instead of the instructor opening up office hours and having meetings either in-person or over the phone, they can use that time for self-care or other work. Besides, it is incredibly frustrating when students have to balance their schedules to fit in an office hour meeting, only to find out that specific time slot is unavailable at the last moment.
Chatbots can address simple and repetitive tasks like answering frequently asked questions, plus students can ask chatbots these questions without feeling judged by their instructor, which can be a huge bonus for those who feel anxious about it.