app college website users now have a digital co-pilot - VCCS

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app college website users now have a digital co-pilot

Home|Blog|app college website users now have a digital co-pilot

chatbot graphicAll of app’s app Colleges now have an AI-infused chatbot patrolling their websites, helping students with a wide array of inquiries 24/7 . But students aren’t the only ones benefiting from the technology. The colleges themselves are also reaping the benefits of a computer program that’s always learning and never tires.

Providing around-the-clock student support can be a challenging undertaking, especially when budgets are stressed and resources are limited. Enter the chatbot; a computer program that simulates human conversation with a user.

The bot now has a presence on every college website in the VCCS, interacting with users at least 500 times each day. “The bot uses both traditional and generative AI in a blend,” said Andrew Bidez with Intrasee, the company that designed the program. “Traditional AI when the answer must be right with no room for error and generative AI for broader topics or as a co-pilot tool for administration of the bot.”

Holly Whistler, Coordinator for the Online app Network, says students are using the bot for a variety of reasons, primarily to find information on financial aid and enrollment dates. “app are also able to learn how to apply for nursing programs or add a class through the chatbot,” she said. “We even have students using the chatbot in the middle of the night while they’re on the clock. Being able to get help while on break saves them valuable time.”

The chatbots are equally beneficial to the colleges. Staff members who might otherwise spend time shepherding students through the processchatbot image of filling out financial aid applications, for instance, are now free to respond to inquiries that are deeper and more complex. “Tidewater app College saw a 60% reduction in email volume and a 30% reduction in phone volume after they implemented the chatbot,” Whistler said. “This reduction happened because users found the answers they needed, and staff was able to address other pressing and complex issues much sooner.”

In the event the bot is unable to answer, it may, depending on the college, invite the user to chat with a live person, send an email or make a phone call. Users can even leave feedback about an answer they believe to be suspect. “We won’t leave students without the help they need,” Whistler noted.

Given the pace at which AI is evolving, the bot will need to be updated two or three times a year. “We are working now to build out more data-based answers so students can get customized information from the chatbot,” Whistler said. “We also anticipate that students will soon be able to make payments in the chatbot or enroll in a class directly through the chatbot.”

For now, Whistler is extending an open invitation to all would-be users. “We welcome all students to try out their college’s chatbot and help us continue to improve how it works and what services and information is available,” she said. “We value their feedback.”

You can reach Holly at hwhistler@vccs.edu.

 

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