A team of postgraduate students from IIT Guwahati, along with their faculty members are developing an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled chatbot – ALBELA – to teach and support the students by providing smart content and personalized learning where the teacher-student ratio will no longer be a limiting factor.
Currently, ALBELA aims to teach and support the first-year students of electrical & electronics engineering (EEE) department of IIT Guwahati, as the researchers are from the EEE department. The AI chatbot is projected to be a suitable mechanism also capable of addressing the queries and doubts that each of the approximately 850 students pursuing EEE at the institute may have. Once the chatbot is in a fully functional step, the services will be extended to all other courses in the institute.
“We have been working on its development since last 7 months with a team of dedicated 7 research scholars of the department. Earlier, we did the trial runs of the chatbot and started using from this academic session onwards. The response from the students has been overwhelming and we hope that this will become the new normal in near future. Professor Rohit Sinha, head of EEE department, and the team IBM have extended their continuous support for this activity,” said Praveen Kumar, professor of EEE department at IIT Guwahati.
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ALBELA is helping students by providing an easy interface to find details of classes and tutorials. Besides, students can find their class schedule, tutorial schedule, examination queries, and more through a simple AI-based chat window. Students at times may hesitate to approach an instructor regarding their queries, but, with this chat-based system, they can clear their doubts, both technical and non-technical.
As the first-year students can have numerous doubts related to content such as preferred textbooks, reference books, notes and sample questions, the chatbot is trained to answer all the queries related to the above.
The team experts said that the use of chatbot to clear doubts of the students can be fascinating to students, increasing their interest in the subject, which may result in better learning outcomes, with the students enjoying the course even more.
Explaining the working model of the chatbot, professor Samarendra Dandapat of the EEE department of IIT Guwahati, said, “The team is developing the analytical problem-solving skill. It will be helpful for the students to learn how to solve the analytical problem related to the course. Within the next one year, we will extend it to biomedical signal processing, electrical machine courses.”
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