Published: 03rd September 2019
Meet Albela, IIT Guwahati's chatbot that will help first-year students with lecture schedule, exam-related queries and more
Albela, the chatbot will provide round-the-clock support to students of IIT Guwahati by providing Artificial Intelligence tutors
What if your college or university had an exclusive chatbot like Siri or Google Assistant just to remind you about your lectures, course information and much more? That's exactly what a team of postgraduate students from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati, along with their faculty members have made possible. They are developing an Artificial Intelligence-enabled Chatbot — Albela — to teach and support the first-year students of Electrical & Electronics Engineering (EEE).
It's an AI Chatbot, which 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.
Talking about the chatbot, Prof Praveen Kumar, Department of EEE, said, "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 the near future."
So what does Albela exactly do?
Currently, ALBELA can respond to queries related to the following:
Lecture schedule – Time and location where the lecture will be held based on the registration number given by the students.
Faculty information (both instructors and tutors) – Name of faculty, contact details and the subject of EEE covered by faculty.
Tutorial related queries – Timing and classroom in which the tutorial will be held based on the registration number of the students.
Examination queries – All queries related to the exams, including necessary instructions, syllabus, location, timing, and marking scheme.
Course curriculum – Syllabus related to specific exams (quiz or semester exams) with a list of reference books and textbooks.
Utilization of Discovery service and Knowledge studio for answering technical doubts using extracts from notes, textbooks, internet, and databases. At present, the Chatbot can extract useful information from unstructured data, i.e., it can documents of any format – PDF or Word or Text and produce result relevant to our query.
Speaking on how Albela is completely different from others like Google Assistant and Siri, professor Praveen says, "Siri and Google assistant do not answer technical questions related to the course on electrical engineering. Moreover, they cannot help students in solving tutorial problems."
How is Albela helping students at IIT Guwahati?
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, students can clear their doubts, both technical and non-technical.
Doubts related to course content: First-Year students can have numerous doubts related to content such as preferred textbooks, reference books, notes, sample questions, etc. The Chatbot is trained to answer all the queries related to the above.
An easy and fascinating interface: Use of Chatbot to clear doubts of the students can be fascinating to students, increasing their interest in the subject. This may result in better learning outcomes, with the students enjoying the course even more.
Explaining the working model of the Chatbot, Samarendra Dandapat, Professor, Department of EEE, said, "The team is developing the analytical problem-solving skill. It will be helpful for the students to learn how to solve analytical problems related to the course. Within the next year, we will extend it to biomedical signal processing, electrical machine courses."
Explaining how they came up with something like this, professor Praveen adds, "For some years we were contemplating how can we answer the queries of the students in a timely manner. With 900 odd students registered, it was not humanly possible to answer every query. With the help of Albela not only are we able to answer general queries about the course, but also technical queries. Very soon Albela will start helping students in solving tutorial problems and assignments."
With features like lecture schedule, faculty information, examination queries, course curriculum, the chatbot also has a unique feature of extracting useful information from unstructured data, like it can scan any format of documents – PDF or Word and provide results relevant to the query asked.