Chatting with Brian: What do Chatbots have to offer the Education Sector? [A3]


Artificial Intelligence, once only the subject of geeky science fiction novels, has in recent years become a near reality. One of the defining moments in this move towards ‘thinking computers’ was when, in the footsteps of ELIZA and PARRY, ALICE, the world’s first open source chatbot and winner of the prestigious Loebner Prize for AI, took centre stage.
A chatbot is a software program (or robot) which attempts to mimic the art of human conversation. It does this by use of AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language) an XML-compliant language. Chat bots can be text or speech based and have human characteristics. They can provide us with a new and engaging way of communicating with your users, for example on an FAQ page. But what about the questions they raise and the issues they surface?

  • Can they make sites more accessible or do they break fundamental usability rules?
  • Do users like them, or find them irritating or even patronising?
  • Are they the next best thing or a 5 minute wonder?
  • Can they really benefit the education sector?
  • Can a chatbot ever really learn?

In this session these questions and more will be discussed in relation to Brian, the IWMW‘s chatbot.

Learning Objectives:

By the end of the session participants will:

  • have a better understanding of what a chatbot is
  • have considered many of the issues relating to chatbots and other bot applications