Humans of Edubots - Sylvie Studente

Written by:
Lars Willner
Regent's University

What's your name, how old are you and where do you come from?

Sylvie Studente, 42 years old, from Northampton, England

What do you do for a living?

I am an Assistant Professor at Regents University London. As well as being Course Leader for the MSc in Digital Marketing and Analytics, I am an active researcher with 20-years experience in leading and contributing to a number of international research projects. I obtained my PhD in Human Computer Interaction in 2008 from the Knowledge Media Institute at The Open University, and have since completed a number of additional post-graduate studies in Education. My BA and MSc are in the areas of Business and Computing. My research interests span the areas of: education, assessment, e-learning, and technology. Prior to my position at Regent’s University, I taught at a number of other HE institutions leading courses on Interaction Design, Artificial Intelligence, Marketing and Project Management. I also have industry experience in the fields of Project Management, Artificial Intelligence and Interaction Design in both business and education contexts. As well as my duties at Regent’s University London, I am a Chief External Examiner for the University of Westminster, and a Doctoral Supervisor for the University of Northampton. I am a member of the Advisory Board for the Journal of Knowledge Management, Economics and Information Technology, and a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Psychological Research.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

Inspiring and motivating students to achieve their potential through teaching. In terms of my research, I enjoy investigating ways to support students in their education.

Can you remember the first time you met a chatbot?

Chatbots have been around for many decades, the first time I met one was talking to customer service chatbots online which were used as applications of natural dialog systems.

How would you describe your current relationship to chatbots?

The current emphasis of research in the field of chatbot technology is upon designing meaningful communication and connections between users and chatbots. This has been led partly by the shift to social networking and messaging platforms. However, as a HCI researcher, my interest in chatbots is in designing meaningful communications and connections between people mediated by chatbot technology, particularly in the domain of education.

How do you believe students will engage with chatbots in the future?

I feel there is much work to be undertaken within the area, students need to understand the benefits of chatbot technology over and above current social media and messaging platforms. The way forward for this (In my opinion) is linking the assistive side of the technology not only to enhance social communications between students and teachers, but to utilise the technology in a way that is immersive of the curriculum such that students can be supported within their studies. This requires developers to consider user /student needs, how these needs can be supported,  and their motivation for using chatbot technology. Understanding user/student needs is paramount to the success of chatbot technology in education, as students are not necessarily looking for solely social communications as this particular motivation is already satisfied through other social media and messaging platforms. The question we must ask ourselves as researchers is “what added value can chatbot technology offer students in their learning”.

What are you hoping to get out from the Edubots project?

I am interested in networking with other educators to explore the range of practices being undertaking with regard to chatbots in higher education. I am also open to future research collaborations with other academics.