Teacherbot DLAM Services Intern

Please welcome our latest team member Chloe Young, a 2nd year geology student who  joined the Digital Learning Application & Media (DLAM) team earlier this week. Chloe will be working with both the Learn and Teacherbot services as a summer intern.

Best wishes, Stewart

This illustration, called Edinburgh: condensed compresses the distances between the city’s landmarks and iconic sights, bringing them together for the first time.
[Terri Po, 2nd year BA (Hons) Illustration]

Copyright © The University of Edinburgh 2017.

Pilot Launch

I’m pleased to say that we are now ready to accept participants on our Teacherbot pilot. This beta test is currently open to any University of Edinburgh staff or students.

If you’d like to volunteer please send your name to teacherbot[@]ed.ac.uk.

We will get back in touch with your login credentials and further instructions.

If you have any questions or comments please either send them to this community mailing list (teacherbot-community[@]mlist.is.ed.ac.uk) for a broader discussion, alternatively use the teacherbot[@]ed.ac.uk address for a private conversation with the Teacherbot development team.

For instructions on joining our community mailing list please read the following article “Teacherbot Community“.

Many thanks, Stewart

New Team Member

After some internal resourcing issues we’re happy to say the Teacherbot pilot project is in active development again.

ISG LTW have hired Gavin McCormack to assist Kate Haag and Stewart Lamb Cromar with the remaining web development work.

We plan to launch this October. Sign up for our newsletter, or follow us on Twitter to be notified about future updates.

Teacherbot is coming soon!

We’d like to tell you that we have made some good progress in our Teacherbot development.

Many of you requested that your Teacherbot can be addressed by hashtags or spot keywords – this functionality is now fully working. Users will be able to talk to your Teacherbot through hashtags, key words or a combination of those without having to call the bot by its name (although this is also still possible).

We are currently finalising the development of a web based Teacherbot management system – this will enable you to configure, upload, download and also test your Teacherbot in a simple to use interface.

We expect that we’re going to roll out the Teacherbot service within the next few weeks and we will keep you posted.

Digital Day of Ideas

Make your own chatbot

Digital Day of Ideas 2016 is the fifth annual symposium showcasing some of the best digital research being done in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Edinburgh.

Workshop resources:

Follow the days activities online:

Teacherbot Community

Thursday 12th May – Kate Haag, Siân Bayne and Stewart Lamb Cromar met with a group of University staff and students who had expressed an interest in finding out more about this pilot project. We gave a short demonstration the Pandorabots system, as it currently stands, and discussed different aspects of how best to take this potential University service forward.

There was attendance from a wide-range of University schools and departments:

  • Accommodation Services
  • Digital Education Unit, Dick Vet
  • EUSA
  • Information Services (User Support, LTW)
  • School of Biological Sciences
  • School of Social and Political Science

People have already identified several different potential applications for a Twitter bot ranging from integration within a MOOC, to fielding student enquiries.

Some limitations with the system demonstrated were identified and we aim to rectify these over the coming weeks. In particular the ability for the bot to also respond to hashtags and trends. At the minute it only engages with tweets containing the @ symbol (e.g. @teacherbot_test).

One very positive outcome of this meeting was the creation of a new Teacherbot community mailing list. If you are also interested in joining please subscribe using the following instructions (University of Edinburgh only):

Send an email to sympa@mlist.is.ed.ac.uk with nothing in the subject line and in the message body put the following:

SUBSCRIBE teacherbot-community NAME

Where NAME is your first name and surname.

Further instructions regarding mailing lists are available here:

Teacherbot says “Hello”

We are excited to announce that we are about to roll out a new version of our Teacherbot service – and we are looking for interested departments and research groups within The University of Edinburgh who would like to take part in this exciting project. Teacherbot is a Twitterbot service and was designed by Information Services (Learning, Teaching and Web Services Division) and the School of Education at the University of Edinburgh.  It was first launched by Siân Bayne, professor of Digital Education, to act as an assistant for a MOOC in E-Learning and Digital Cultures on Coursera.  Students were able to engage with Teacherbot over Twitter. While Teacherbot offered answers to general questions about the course content,  it also encouraged students to  discuss the idea of teacher automation in higher education.

Teacherbot was never regarded as a replacement for the actual living teacher, but rather as a teaching assistant. If you are a teacher or work for a student helpline, you will probably have experienced that students tend to ask the same questions over and over again – whether this is asking for where the lecture room is or wanting to know the assignment deadline. Wouldn’t it be great if we had someone to reply to these questions while we focus on the actual teaching, our own research and other complex tasks?

This is where Teacherbot comes into play. Teacherbot can function as an FAQ tool – while at the same time being “more human”. You can give Teacherbot a personality by implementing small talk or make Teacherbot write in a casual style that appeals to students. Implementing Teacherbot will not only save your time, but students will get their answers in an instant – they don’t have to wait for the human teacher to reply. At the same time, Teacherbot can be fun to talk to and function as a “buddy” for the students.

You can employ Teacherbot for a variety of questions/answer tasks – the ideas are only limited by your imagination. The content can be easily created by yourself using a Graphical User Interface – no coding skills are required. For the more experienced coder or those who want to learn, it is possible to write more complex interaction scenarios in AIML.

We are offering a hands-on workshop on “Making your own chatbot” on the Digital Day of Ideas on 18th May where we will teach you how to write a Teacherbot yourself. We’d be happy to see you there!