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Artificial Intelligence

New Chatbot Zeroes in on Student Wellness and Retention

college student texting

Education technology company EdSights has launched an SMS-based chatbot that uses natural language processing and machine learning to identify and engage with at-risk students. The tool converses with students about their college experience and offers to connect them with campus resources if a struggle is detected, according to a news announcement.

At various points in a semester, for example, EdSights might text students to ask how they're feeling about an upcoming exam, how they are handling their course load or how they are balancing work, family and school responsibilities. Depending on their response, they may be directed to an adviser or to a specific set of resources for help. Alerts can also be sent to college administrators if a student needs immediate intervention. In addition, students can text the chatbots with their own questions or concerns.

An administrative platform tracks the data on student struggles and outcomes and displays it in a dashboard format, along with suggested "next steps" for improving retention and student wellness.

"The U.S. is facing a college dropout crisis and higher education institutions are looking for solutions in all the wrong places," said Carolina Recchi, co-CEO of EdSights, in a statement. "Most colleges and universities operate under the assumption that what you see in the classroom, grades, and attendance, are the ultimate deciding factor of at-risk students, but these are often lagging indicators. There are a lot of micro-barriers that students can be facing, which are often the root of the problem but are tough to measure. EdSights establishes an open dialogue outside of the classroom to identify this important, non-cognitive data early on and at scale by proactively engaging students and getting to the root of their challenge."

For more information, visit the EdSights site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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