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University Expands Chatbot Use to Handle Students' Coronavirus Questions

Lamar University in Texas is using a chatbot to help share information with students during the coronavirus pandemic. The institution first rolled out GeckoEngage's Chirp Bot in February, primarily to handle frequently asked questions on the admissions website and other departmental websites. With campus closures and the move to online learning due to COVID-19, however, LU needed to scale up its interactions with students across the country.   

"We were able to expand the platform to provide access to many more staff members. We now have multiple agents within each department who are available to chat in real time with students who would normally call the offices," reported Tracie Craig, director of Welcome Center and Campus Experience at the university, in a statement. "It's no secret that being available to students is critical and nothing is more effective or convenient than the chatbot. It's superior to a phone call because attachments and hyperlinks can be shared through the chat and the guest never has to pick up a pen! The conversation can be downloaded and sent to the student as documentation of the exchange and contact information is collected before the chat even starts…. Questions are answered and problems solved with just a few keystrokes while everyone is safe at home."

GeckoEngage is now providing a COVID-19 ResponseBot designed to answer questions during the coronavirus pandemic, available for free to higher education institutions for an initial period of three months. It operates across multiple channels, including website, text messages and social media sites, and can switch between bot and human-to-human live chat as needed. For more information, visit the GeckoEngage 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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