Personalized academic advisor using cognitive-computing
Many universities have an online FAQ tool for incoming and current students, but what happens when the information is unavailable, incomplete or frustrating to access without knowing precise keywords? Deakin is now using cognitive-computing technology in a first-in-its-industry solution to give students access to critical administrative and course information through a novel online portal that they can use to ask their own questions in natural language instead of searching through keyword-based FAQs. Future enhancements to the solution, which is accessible through any Internet-connected device, will provide individualized program information and advice to students as they plan their curricula. The university anticipates that the solution will ultimately become a personalized career advisor, pointing students toward the courses and skills they need to land their preferred jobs.
Personal career assistant as a reliable information source
Deakin anticipates that this novel use of technology as a reliable information source and, in the future, a personal career assistant, will boost enrollment by up to 10 percent as a result of a 20 percent increase in student satisfaction. For the public university, having more students translates into higher revenue that Deakin can put into program improvement. Deakin expects to achieve more than AUD 3 million in productivity improvements annually by reducing the need for university personnel to respond to questions that the IBM® Watson™ solution can answer. Ultimately, it is estimated that personalized, tailored career direction from the cognitive-computing solution will help raise post-graduation employment rates by 6.5 percent, which will further set the university apart from and above its peers.
Deakin is one of the first universities in the world to use cognitive-computing technology to enhance students’ lives in this way. As the solution makes new, novel connections among increasing amounts of data, students can expect it to become a personalized career coach as they make inquiries and decisions in planning their academic lives.
The university previously used a technology solution that provided answers to approximately 80 percent of student questions through an FAQ search; finding answers to the other 20 percent could take up to three weeks in some cases. Now, students can make natural language inquiries using the cognitive-computing solution, which can deliver answers within seconds or immediately direct students to the person who can provide the right answers.
The cognitive-computing solution serves as its own system of insight as it ingests a nearly unlimited amount of data; it then becomes a system of engagement with students as it not only provides answers to inquiries, but also becomes a personal assistant to students as they move through the university and into careers.