Students at the University of North Georgia (UNG) will have another way to virtually connect to academic resources.
The AskNigel chatbot uses artificial intelligence (AI) equipped with information from the UNG website to help students find answers to frequently asked questions. The more the chatbot is used, the smarter the AI will become and the bigger its “brain” will be. At launch, he had nearly 7,000 questions in his brain.
“We activated the chatbot earlier than planned and added the live chat feature to help serve our UNG community during this time of uncertainty during this COVID-19 crisis,” said Joanie Chembars, director of web communication at UNG. “And we were able to do it so quickly and efficiently thanks to the work and leadership of Stephanie Dooley, who was responsible for the implementation of the project. “
She explained that AskNigel’s original goal was to improve student retention during the first and second years by providing them with better access to university resources. For example, a student can type in a question about financial aid, and AskNigel will provide an answer from their “brain”.
“AskNigel will also give you the option to connect with a live agent if there is one available,” Chembars said.
AskNigel was funded by a Federal Title III grant, said Dr Carol Adams, associate vice-president of academic affairs and dean of University college at the UNG. She explained that the goal of the Success-Driven Academic Reform Grant is to help first-year students connect to UNG resources. AskNigel is an extension of this initiative, said Adams, Title III grant project director.
“Our traditional age students are so comfortable with the technology, and they prefer to use it instead of picking up the phone,” she said.
Chembars said the chatbot will automatically open at the bottom of a web browser for all new visitors. The next time a user visits, AskNigel will be displayed as a bubble.
“All you have to do is click on the bubble and AskNigel will appear,” Chembars said, adding that he had additional features that UNG could use in the future. “We can embed it in an app or link it to Facebook Messenger. It’s a great addition to our site for our UNG students.”