How chatbots will disrupt communication in higher education?
Chatbots are everywhere. Everyone is dealing with it and try to become an expert of the topic that will for sure change the way of communicate with customers. According to IDC, AI will drive chatbot revenues from $8 billion in 2016 to more than $47 billion in 2020. At the same time, universities try to find a new way to communicate easily and with cost effectiveness to students.
Plenty of platforms…
Nowadays, French universities and “Grandes Ecoles” use plenty of platforms enabling students to have quick access to course materials, see messages from the administration, send messages to their professors, consult their agenda, have a view of their grades and even check FAQs. These platforms are not connected, not linked together and require a long time to find and load the right page. We have the feeling that education leaders want to be disruptive in their communication using new collaborative social network such as Facebook Planet, Blackboard, Slack…
But not on the right channel: Messenger!
But they don’t realize that almost 100% of students are connected to Facebook and have a daily use of one messaging application: Messenger. Therefore, students can see a notification without delay on their mobile phones and can send a request to every person and every brand.Messenger is the new place to communicate freely and quickly. It is the new virtual SMS. It is the new platform we use in case of emergency. It is the new way to follow the news. It is definitely the new way to establish a fair and close connection between professors and students.
An interest for professors and students…
At the age of the Information Society, every student must be able to anticipate access to course content, daily planning, school news, opportunities in real-time. In fact, we all want to predict our future and to be always in advance. Receiving information according to courses will enable students to feel in the confidence. Professor would be able to adapt themselves to their students, to find the fair measure between friendship and pedagogical distance. Following what Coulon and Paivandi wrote in “State of knowledge on the relations between students and teachers in higher education”, a great teacher is able to develop “strong relationship in class and outside of the study environment”.
We can even go further!
However, professors could find difficult to define this relationship border. Instant Messaging could be an alternative to this hurdle. Each professor would have the opportunity to express himself and use new digital features to be more efficient. Other canals must be maintained to store course materials as well but this could also change soon. Imagine a global cloud that stores every file and that is linked to a Messenger bot menu that give access to all content and where this same Messenger bot enable professors to send in advance topics that will be treated in class… That is the future I imagine!
Finally, bots don’t give too much option to generate new revenues for higher education. The only way is to take an interest in the student experience (and a bit in platforms cost savings). It would also facilitate administration work because students would have a well-known messaging platform to ask their questions. It may be the emergence of a new job: Messenger Bot Content Manager. We will perhaps see augmented administrative people thanks to bots in a few months.