Conversational Virtual Humans in Education:
The “New Normal” is no longer new. E-learning has altered forever, and there is no turning back. Even if pupils finally return to school, the concept of a teacher, a blackboard, and hundreds of students seated in chairs has altered permanently. Instead, a slew of innovative learning tools have made their way into the classroom. Conversational AI, which was previously employed mostly in textual interfaces and for commercial purposes, has made its way into this industry.
Chatbots didn’t become a commodity until the mid-2010s, yet they’re already out of favour with many individuals. I can’t say I blame them. The majority of our interactions with them are robotic (no pun intended), boring, and restricted. The majority of their applications are for business purposes. The majority of bots are text-based, and in a world that is increasingly moving toward video, they are being left behind, much like instructors who have yet to comprehend the use of online platforms.
There’s an unforgivable gap between what conversational AI and virtual people can do now and how they’re actually used. A virtual person, sometimes known as a digital human, is a relatively new idea that combines powerful conversational AI technology with 3D animation technology to produce an avatar with whom users may communicate using natural language. There are several advantages to this new technology, the most important of which is the capacity to establish a deeper relationship with consumers, which is more difficult to do with a text-based interface.
Conversational virtual people, as we’ve found at cocohub.ai over the last several months, have immense promise in the education industry. Even more exciting is the fact that we learn from each meeting and conference that there are an increasing number of use cases in which this technology might be beneficial. As a result, we are now trying to make technology more available and accessible to teachers and educators. We’re launching new templates that may be used to quickly and simply create quizzes and examinations. We’re also working on integrating our videobots into popular learning management systems right now.
The fact that we were named a regional track winner, runner-ups in the “voice assistants special track,” and placed among the best in the global finals of the Global EdTech Startup Awards – all of which led to us presenting at the 2022 Bett Show in London – only confirmed the need for our technology. And it turns out that this technology has a wide range of applications.
So, how might virtual persons be beneficial and effective in the educational field? Here’s what we found out.
1. Performing Quizzes
Several instructors and digital learning leaders are putting our newly generated templates to the test. Instead of a visual interface, you receive a virtual individual who conducts the quiz in a conversational and entertaining manner. It delivers the results to your email when the quiz is completed (or directly updates the grade in the LMS).
Let’s imagine you want to assess your pupils’ understanding of your most recent lecture with a fast 5-question quiz. So, when you log in to our platform, fill in the quiz or task’s questions, the right answer(s), the bot’s reaction to correct and erroneous responses – everything within the opening and closing lines – and the email address to get the results. You can have a ready-to-use quiz delivered by a conversational virtual human in a matter of minutes, and you can provide a link to your students so they can test it out and practise.
However, the applications are far more extensive. While I’m writing this post, three researchers – one from a university, one from an education institution, and one from a MOOC-creating firm – are planning to utilise our product for study to examine how it affects students. Which leads us to the goal they’re attempting to achieve.
2. Self-Directed Education
Dr. Danny Glick, Research Affiliate at the University of California, Irvine’s Online Learning Research Center, recently revealed on Linkedin that he is working on a conversational video-bot to assist students in managing their self-regulated learning process. “We want to work with cocohub on a study to explore if an AI-powered ‘learn to learn’ video bot intervention affects students’ effectiveness and attitude in a classroom setting large-scale online course.”
3. Learning in a Socio-Emotional Context
Another use for this technique is socio-emotional learning. Because today’s youth are accustomed to having virtual buddies as part of their gaming experience – or even building their own virtual companions. By interacting with them through virtual persons, the entire process becomes gamified, making it far more enticing as a method of learning, and the virtual humans may also provide support and empathy when things become tough.
4. Certification in computational thinking and dialogue design
Then there are our IUPUI partners, who employed our technology to construct a virtual teaching assistant inside an LMS, with two lectures about our product integrated in the course’s curriculum. It was utilised by the students to establish “virtual best friends” or “virtual parents” who joined remote education courses and answered questions about them, such as their favourite hobbies, movies, or cuisine. This use case will be presented at the Educause conference this year.
5. Learning a new language
Other experts are curious about how these virtual persons are assisting pupils in improving their English speaking abilities. One of the platform’s capabilities, for example, is the ability to count the amount of words a student uses in a response to decide if the student’s answer is lengthy enough. If it isn’t, the student is asked to give a fuller sentence. Alternatively, they can only consider a student’s response to be effective if many keywords or phrases are utilised.
Grammar checking and “fill in the blanks” techniques are examples of such applications. Solly Tamari (“Global Effective Education”), an EdTech inventor and entrepreneur for more than 25 years, employs this strategy. We created a prototype that he’s using to educate kids how to utilise the right present tense words – Am, Is, and Are. Here’s what some of his pupils had to say when he sent this bot to hundreds of them: “It’s a great tool, and it’s quite beneficial to me”; “What a great concept!” It provides instant feedback.”
6. Personalized education
Stacey Childress and Scott Benson produced study for Phi Delta Kappan in 2014, which was recently published by the Israeli ministry of education, emphasises the benefits of individualised learning as a technique of closing the gap between the class’s quickest and slowest learners. “This mindset is more holistic, therefore it has an influence on the timetable, students’ connections with teachers as well as among themselves, and students’ attitudes toward learning,” according to one of the study’s findings. Meanwhile, they regarded individualised learning as a promising solution to overcome the shortcomings in the present system.