Student Information Systems

Unit4 Adds Chatbot to SIS

Unit4, a company that develops enterprise applications for service organizations, has introduced a chatbot designed for communications with prospective and current students.

The chatbot, nicknamed Wanda, was built on the Microsoft Azure platform-as-a-service using the Microsoft Bot Framework and Microsoft Cognitive Services for machine learning, event stream analysis and complex event processing with Office 365. The Student Chatbot works with Unit4's Student Management and other applications.

Students can interact with Wanda on any device through natural language text using familiar apps such as Facebook Messenger, Skype and WhatsApp to ask questions about programs, course registration, payments, financial aid and other aspects of student life. Colleges and universities can also use Wanda to follow up with prospective students and help guide them through the admissions process. A Unit4 blog post describes Wanda as a student's "24x7 personal digital liaison with the university."

"Bots will replace apps in the not so distant future, not just responding to requests but initiating action based on what they already know," said Ivo Totev, chief product officer at Unit4, in a prepared statement. "This holds incredible promise for all industries and use cases are endless. Examples in Higher Education include course admissions, financial aid, course transfers, communicating with faculty and advisors and managing academic progress.”

Key features of the Wanda student chatbot include:

  • Natural language communication interface;
  • Ability to answer questions, automate routine tasks, suggest actions and provide contextually relevant information; and
  • Machine learning capabilities to adapt to the user's patterns of behavior.

Unit4 is exhibiting in booth 1311 at the Educause 2016 conference being held in Anaheim, CA this week. They're also hosting a breakout session titled "Your Students' Digital Experience: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" on Wednesday, Oct 26.

Further information about Wanda can be found on Unit4's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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