Campus Digital Assistants - a new EdTech Category


The introduction of campus digital assistants in our schools, colleges and universities means that they are likely to touch every facet of campus life. Their ability to impact on the design and delivery of all education services means that digital assistants should be treated as a distinct EdTech category. The nature of EdTech categories means that they are broad which enables EdTech companies to design multiple products and services that underpin the behaviour and capabilities of their respective campus digital assistants. The following list is indicative of how campus digital assistants will change the way students engage with campus services.

  1. Students can seek out on demand information about campus services when they start their studies or during the course of their studies.
  2. Students can ask their digital assistant about how they are doing with their studies.
  3. Students can ask their digital assistant about the grade that they need secure on their next assignment.
  4. The digital assistant can remind students about forthcoming assignment deadline dates.
  5. The digital assistant can nudge the students with information, advice and guidance about the grade that they need on forthcoming assignments.
  6. When a student is progressing well with his or her studies, the digital assistant can recommend options that open up as his or her grade average rises. These could include recommendations for further study.
  7. The digital assistant may suggest arranging an appointment with a course tutor or with the academic support team if the service see a fall in academic performance. If the student says yes to an appointment the digital assistant will make and confirm the appointment to all parties.
  8. The digital assistant will present a weekly report card to every student on the campus. The report card will offer students a summary of their performance on their respective courses. The report card will offer more than information. The digital assistant will offer advice and guidance on behalf of teachers and support teams to each student so that they make good progress with their studies.
  9. The digital assistant will remind students about forthcoming exam dates, times and venues. The service will also offer students contextualised recommendations for revision workshops to support their preparations for their exams.
  10. The digital assistant will support teachers to mark and grade formative assessment. The digital assistant will also offer feedback to the student on their work on behalf of course teams. Please note that teachers will train the machine learning models that underpin the automatic marking service.
  11. The digital assistant answers phone calls from parents who wish to report their child as being absent from class because of a cold. The digital assistant takes the details of the caller, the student, the date, the classes missed and the reason for absence. Having taken these details, the digital assistant places these details into the class register for the teacher's attention. Likewise, the digital assistant can makes call on behalf of the school, college or university to students or to parents.
  12. The digital assistant will support teachers to offer adaptive teaching, learning and assessment materials to students on the institution's learning management system.
  13. The digital assistant will offer contextualised nudges to inform students about events around the campus.
  14. The digital assistant will help teachers and student support teams identify students at risk. The volume of data for any given student is growing larger by the year. The machine learning models that help institutions identify students at risk will inform the behaviour of the digital assistant when advising teachers and support teams around the campus. The digital assistant will advise students on a one-to-one basis so that they can make informed choices about their studies. The digital assistant will also send out a communication to parents on behalf of the institution.
  15. The digital assistant will suggest contextualised reading lists to students. Students will be able to reserve or loan recommended textbooks.
  16. Students will be able to make use of their digital assistant to make payments for multiple services on the campus; such as course fees, trips, library fines, topping up print or mealtime credits.
  17. Students will have conversations with their digital assistant as they navigate their courses on the institution's learning management system. The conversations will also support the assessment of open ended questions within an online tutorial.
  18. The use of campus digital assistants reduces or eliminates the friction that currently exists around many campus services. Students simply enter into a dialogue with their campus digital assistant to undertake day-to-day tasks. These conversations will be conducted on multiple devices that the student has access to.
  19. The digital assistant develops growing domain knowledge across numerous curriculum areas such as Maths, English, Physics, Business and more. Campuses may specialise in developing discrete knowledge domains. If students or teachers pose questions to their local digital assistant, it may relay the queries onto other digital assistants before responding.
  20. The digital assistant enables schools, colleges and universities to support their students during out-of-office hours. Students can access support and campus services at a time and place that suits their lifestyles.

This list represents a small fraction of services that digital assistants will support students with around the campus. When these capabilities are combined it is not too difficult to imagine how campus digital assistants will enhance how students are supported during their studies. Likewise there are numerous examples of how digital assistants will assist teachers, student support teams and campus administrators.

Digital assistants could develop along a number of pathways. Firstly, EdTech companies could overlay their digital assistants on top of their proprietary systems. These will be designed to support a narrow range of questions and tasks that are associated with their discrete products and services. Secondly, vendors could offer a digital assistant that supports all campus services. They will be responsible for joining multiple services together into a unified manner for students and staff on the campus. Thirdly, the students could have their own digital assistant. As they start each school, they swap their unique keys with the institution which enables them to access campus services via their lifelong personal digital assistant. Keys are swapped between students and institutions as they progress from one campus to another.