Digital Learning Assistants in Higher Education Environments: A Qualitative Focus Group Study

Abstract

Digital technologies have become increasingly important for educational institutions since the Covid-19 pandemic. In this paper, we present an artificially intelligent assistant system that supports students and prospective students on different levels. In addition to an AI-based chatbot as the central communication element, the virtual guidance system includes planning, study analysis, and motivation applications. To evaluate how the assistant can best address students’ needs, a qualitative focus group study with eight current students was conducted in April 2022, involving first a user testing of the chatbot prototype and second an assessment of different concept sketches for the planner and motivator applications. Results from the user testing of the chatbot suggest the importance of a vivid persona and appealing design, accurate, guided, direct answering, and optional push messaging. In the second part concerning planner and motivator, the students expressed the wish to integrate predominantly functions, which help to prepare on time for exams and ideally bundle the applications on one platform to avoid switching between different platforms. Furthermore, participants voiced privacy concerns, as well as an increase in distraction and competitive pressure through gamification. The findings were used to further develop and refine the digital assistant before launch. They give detailed insight into why and how integrated, digital assistants can be successful in educational settings and can be used for future research in the emerging research field of AI in teaching and learning.



Author Information
Mascha-Lea Fersch, Ansbach University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Sigurd Schacht, Ansbach University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Betiel Woldai, Ansbach University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Charlotte Kätzel, Ansbach University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Sophie Henne, Ansbach University of Applied Sciences, Germany

Paper Information
Conference: BCE2022
Stream: Higher education

This paper is part of the BCE2022 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Fersch M., Schacht S., Woldai B., Kätzel C., & Henne S. (2022) Digital Learning Assistants in Higher Education Environments: A Qualitative Focus Group Study ISSN: 2435-9467 – The Barcelona Conference on Education 2022: Official Conference Proceedings https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2435-9467.2022.28
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2435-9467.2022.28


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