At TechnoKids, we are currently working on an exciting new project: TechnoChatbot AI. Students will use it to become chatbot developers, creating their own unique chatbot assistants to perform common, real world tasks. Using Scratch and free, open-source software called Bot Libre, they build a variety of conversational chatbots. In this project, students use these artificial intelligence tools to make chatbots that can:
- inform students about an upcoming school event
- place an order for a fundraiser
- answer questions about school facts, clubs, or sports teams
What Is a Chatbot?
First, students are introduced to the concept of chatbot assistants. The project begins by showing students that a chatbot is a computer program that simulates human conversation to help people, automate tasks, or answer questions. They can be text-based on a website, where they often appear as floating buttons on the screen inviting viewers to engage. Or they can be voice-based, such as Apple Siri or Amazon Alexa, responding to specific oral prompts.
How Does Artificial Intelligence Make Chatbot Assistants Work?
TechnoChatbot AI shows students how chatbots work. A large language model (LLM) is a type of AI that can understand and generate language. They are trained with huge amounts of data to ‘learn’ how the patterns and structures of speech are formed. Usually, its vast dataset comes from content on the Internet: websites, news stories, programming, books, and lots more! As a result, they can recognize and then generate text. Chatbots use this technology to perform tasks by giving human-like replies in response to user inputs.
What Can a Chatbot Do?
An AI chatbot can:
- summarize information
- translate text
- write and debug code
- compose poetry
- write songs
- generate a list of ideas
- tell jokes
- suggest a recipe
- plan a trip
- analyze and chart data
What Concerns Do People Have About Chatbot Assistants?
Chatbots are not perfect
Since all of their data comes from the Internet, the responses that chatbots give can be inaccurate. Students should always use critical thinking and fact checking when using these tools.
Chatbots will replace jobs
Presently, AI chatbots are tools can perform simple, repetitive tasks. So they could likely take those types of jobs away from people. However, that can allow workers to do more meaningful, enjoyable, and creative activities instead.
Chatbots can be used to complete schoolwork
As these apps can be used to generate text, teachers are concerned that school assignments such as essay writing can be easily substituted for a student’s own work by using AI assistants. Since this is now readily available, teachers do need to consider adjusting their curriculum and practices. Here are a few suggestions:
|Design school assignments that require critical thinking, explanation of reasoning, and problem solving|
|Have students reflect on how topics relate to them personally|
|Require a list of sources of information in a bibliography|
|Use oral quizzes and class presentations to assess knowledge|
|Teach students ethical and safety concerns to build responsible digital citizens|
TechnoChatbot AI is a project that demonstrates the value and benefits of artificial intelligence and chatbots. Students develop their own unique rule-based and conversational chatbots that can help people to complete tasks and find information in an automated, yet personal and efficient way.
TechnoChatbot AI Builds Essential Critical Thinking Skills
Throughout the project, students reflect on the strengths and limitations of chatbot assistants. They consider the practical use, shortcomings, and suggested improvements to their designs. Students program and build working chatbots to facilitate real world tasks and at the same time, they learn to code using different apps. They also build skills in logical reasoning, divergent and analytical thinking, problem solving, and creativity. TechnoChatbot AI combines active learning with a deeper understanding of artificial intelligence and its applications. It is a great follow up to the middle school project TechnoBot AI. Keep in touch – TechnoKids will announce this new project soon!