Sydney Uni taps AI for new COVID chatbot

The historic university has adopted new technology to help it manage the flood of student inquiries in the wake of COVID-19 crisis

The University of Sydney has developed a chatbot utilising artificial intelligence (AI) to help it handle the raft of COVID-19-related student inquires it’s fielding as a result of the pandemic, which has seen classes move online, facilities closed and students unable to attend university.

The ‘Corona-bot’, as it’s been dubbed, has been tackling between 200 and 400 individual student inquiries every day, with each student typically asking two to three questions. The bot provides the most appropriate answer to the question and, where necessary, directs the student to further information.

The bot was developed in the university’s Automation & Innovation Hub and leverages Microsoft Cognitive Services. The underlying framework for the bot was created in a week, while the content is continuously updated to reflect changing conditions, emerging student concerns and current government advice.

Sydney University Automation and Innovation Hub, general manager, Steve Blunt, praised the project as a great example of the team addressing an emergent challenge quickly, “with a solution that not only assists students, but also informs the university on the dynamically changing student concerns”.

The bot has a dual role - assisting students and also providing valuable insights to the university about the range of student concerns related to COVID-19. The insights are used to help formulate the university’s responses as well as identify any gaps in its assistance for students and the community.

Designed initially as a single question/answer conversational agent, the Corona-Bot responds to a student question with a concise response. The university is now also considering how to develop the agent to handle multi-stage questions, which establish a natural question-and-answer style conversation.

The questions students pose change every day - from asking about courses moving online, to advice about whether they should come to campus or stay home. The university says new questions are emerging now about whether special considerations might be available for students who contract the virus, is they are late to submit assignments or unable to sit exams.

One of the advantages of the chatbot is scalability. And this is particularly helpful in a large, fast moving crisis like the current one. As the pandemic and the ramifications unfolds, new questions and concerns arise. Microsoft Australia education director, Tiffany Wright, said keeping people properly informed is of paramount importance.

“This approach allows students to receive instant answers to their questions and this system is highly scalable so it can meet the demand coming from tens of thousands of students,” she said.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia. 

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Launch marketing council Episode 5: Retailer and supplier

In our fifth and final episode, we delve into the relationship between retailer and supplier and how it drives and influences launch marketing strategies and success. To do that, we’re joined by Campbell Davies, group general manager of Associated Retailers Limited, and Kristin Viccars, marketing director A/NZ, Apex Tool Group. Also featured are Five by Five Global managing director, Matt Lawton, and CMO’s Nadia Cameron.

More Videos

Nowadays, when everything is being done online, it is good to know that someone is trying to make an improvement. As a company, you are o...

Marcus

10 lessons Telstra has learnt through its T22 transformation

Read more

Check out tiny twig for comfy and soft organic baby clothes.

Morgan mendoza

Binge and The Iconic launch Inactivewear clothing line

Read more

NetSuite started out as a cloud-based provider of Enterprise Resource Planning software or as NetSuite solution provider, which companies...

talalyousaf

NetSuite to acquire Bronto's digital marketing platform for US$200m

Read more

Thanks for sharing this post, its really good information I get through this blog.CDPO Online Exam Training

Infosectrain01

3 ways Booking.com is improving its B2B marketing game

Read more

Time is of the essence, especially for customer service teams. With chatbots, you can interact and assist customers at a larger scale, al...

Jai

Triple-digit customer database growth, personalised engagement become reality for Stone & Wood

Read more

Blog Posts

Getting privacy right in a first-party data world

With continued advances in marketing technology, data privacy continues to play catchup in terms of regulation, safety and use. The laws that do exist are open to interpretation and potential misuse and that has led to consumer mistrust and increasing calls for a stronger regulatory framework to protect personal information.

Furqan Wasif

Head of biddable media, Tug

​Beyond greenwashing: Why brands need to get their house in order first

Environmental, Social and (Corporate) Governance is a hot topic for brands right now. But before you start thinking about doing good, Craig Flanders says you best sort out the basics.

Craig Flanders

CEO, Spinach

​The value of collaboration: how to keep it together

Through the ages, from the fields to the factories to the office towers and now to our kitchen tables, collaboration has played a pivotal role in how we live and work. Together. We find partners, live as families, socialise in groups and work as teams. Ultimately, we rely on these collaborative structures to survive and thrive.

Rich Curtis

CEO, FutureBrand A/NZ

Sign in