Aug. 10, 2020Print | PDF
A new online tool is helping future Wilfrid Laurier University students, as well as Brantford campus students and Waterloo campus Faculty of Science students, gain answers to common academic advising questions about admissions, course registration, exams and academics.
The university recently launched three “HawkBots” chatbots, which students can use to ask questions during online chat conversations.
Students studying within the Faculty of Science on Laurier's Waterloo campus can connect with the HawkBot "Isaac," an acronym for "Interactive Science Academic Advising Coach." Isaac can be accessed on the Science Academic Advising webpage. Brantford campus students seeking academic advising services can connect with the "Advising Virtual Assistant," also known as "Ava," through the Brantford Campus Advising webpage. HawkBot “RAVA” or “Recruitment and Admissions Virtual Assistant” will be answering admission-related questions for future students.
“The goal of the HawkBots is to help reduce the number of inquiries to Service Laurier. The new generation of students want answers quickly and the chat bot provides a higher level of service than we’ve ever been able to offer them in a digital space,” says Melissa Stephens, manager of marketing and communications in recruitment and admissions.
Associate Professor Paul Mallet, who serves as associate dean of student services in the Faculty of Science, says the Hawkbots provide an immediate and engaging response for students with questions, reduce wait times for students seeking advising services and reduce the number of queries staff members are required to address.
“One of the strategic goals for the Faculty of Science is to improve our already strong student retention rates,” says Mallet. “We’ve seen an increase in student retention rates the past three years due in part to increasing the number of dedicated academic advising staff. But there are times within the academic calendar cycle when it is challenging to keep up with the volume of academic advising requests.”
Within the first three days of the HawkBots launch in early July, Isaac and Ava received more than 200 queries. RAVA had over 800 users with a success rate of 74% of responses directed to the website. While academic advising staff members continue to be available to personally answer student questions, Laurier's new HawkBots can help when a relatively simple answer is required.
“Everything is linked to a source, such as the academic calendar, so Ava is also a teaching tool in showing students how to navigate these resources," says Sara Neziol, manager of education advising at Laurier’s Brantford campus. “Our goal is to continue to build Ava with information based on the types of questions students have.”
The HawkBot pilot project was developed in partnership with Laurier’s ICT, Web Services, and Project Management Office (PMO), Brantford Advising, Faculty of Science Advising, and Recruitment and Admissions.
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