The pandemic has been a tipping point for many sectors, including edtech. According to a recent report by RBSA Advisors, India’s edtech industry is poised to reach $30 billion in size in the next ten years from the current market size of about $700-800 million.
The report also said the industry had attracted private equity investments of $4 billion in the last five years, with Byju’s being the major player at a valuation of $15 billion.
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Chatbots in edtech
Chatbots have been a key enabler in digital learning. PaGaLGuY was the first Indian edtech portal that offered a bot in India. Called Prepathon, it gives progress reports, makes study plans and offers revision practice.
In a 2016 interview, Microsoft founder Bill Gates spoke about how AI advancements would make personalised learning more effective. “The idea that you could talk to an [virtual] advisor that would understand different misconceptions and arbitrary linguistics around it, that’ll certainly come in the next decade. And they’ll be a very nice supplement,” he said.
The global chatbot market is slated to grow at a CAGR of 31% from 2018 to 2024. So, what exactly do chatbots offer? Let’s find out.
In India, the teacher-student ratio is between 1 to 30 and 1 to 50, making it difficult for teachers to tend to every student. Chatbots can address repetitive queries about an upcoming assignment or projects. This frees up a lot of time for teachers to deal with high-priority tasks. Chatbots also engage with each student to decide the areas they need to focus on more.
Chabot shortens the feedback loop. For example, Botsify is an AI chatbot that quizzes students by showing them images, texts or videos of a topic they have learnt. Teachers can then use the results to assess the student’s performance. Students can also share their feedback instantly to teachers.
Instant clarification of doubts
For any student, one of the biggest challenges is how and when to clarify his/her doubts. Edtech startup Toppr’s new app Ask Toppr gives students access to step-wise solutions within seconds. “By providing an instant step-wise solution to their questions, Ask Toppr allows students to get their doubts solved without having to buy any subscription or sign-up,” the company blog post read.
Ease of administrative burden
Every year, many students have various doubts while applying for college or school admissions. Since most of these doubts are often repetitive, chatbots are being used to answer the same. This frees administrative staff to focus on other work and helps students make quicker decisions.
The spacing effect
The spacing effect is an important concept in learning. SuperMemo, a learning method and software package developed by Piotr Woźniak, uses the spaced repetition system to facilitate learning. The chatbot asks questions and rates the answers. Based on your score, the system will determine when you will forget the information and notify the revision time.
Chatbots use the Robotic Process Automation methodology in tandem with natural language processing (NLP) to interact with users. Chatbots can be divided into two types, Scripted chatbots and AI chatbots.
Scripted chatbots will not be able to perform a task their code has not accounted for. AI Chatbots are based on NLPs that make bots more human-like, learning from every interaction and expanding their knowledge.
To make chatbots accessible to students, companies need to choose a chatbot development platform that can connect in many communication channels at once.
For instance, Snatchbot can be used on Facebook Messenger, Slack, WeChat, Skype, and can be easily deployed on the university or school website by pasting a small code snippet onto the desired page. Chatbot Amelia is available on desktop and mobile devices and can be placed inside messaging apps, such as Slack and Facebook Messenger.
Chatbot development platforms used widely across industries are:
It is one of the most sought-after platforms across industries. Watson is perfect for developing bots on various social media platforms along with the website.
Three phases in which Watson Assistant is used by Chatbot projects (Credit: Watson Assistant)
Microsoft Azure Bot Service
The Azure bot service provides a software development kit and portal and a bot connector service to connect to social media. It also offers many sample bots that can be used as building blocks. This Cloud-based service is accessible from anywhere and offers support in multiple languages.
The Microsoft platform allows developers to train your bots for answering simple questions based on your FAQ, URLs and manuals for the product within a matter of minutes. It also enables a better experience by allowing developers to integrate third-party APIs.
Semantic Machines, acquired by Microsoft, helps developers build bots that can understand conversations.
ALBELA is a chatbot developed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, to teach and support the first-year students in Electrical & Electronics Engineering (EEE).
The ALBELA AI Chatbot has lecture schedules, faculty information, examination queries and course curriculum. It can extract useful information from unstructured data.
Educational bots have been providing much-needed assistance to overworked teaching staff in our country during this pandemic. However, to make it further future-proof, developers have to ensure four things:
- Chatbots should be trained on relevant datasets.
- The chatbot should not slow down the entire system.
- It should be integrated seamlessly.
- It should be protected against misuse by hackers.