Research

Students learn and experiment, and intelligent chatbot helps

Käsi pitelee matkapuhelinta, jossa keskustelu chatbotin kanssa alkamassa.
The project “Bot-learning as a modern teaching method for generation Z” (MELES-BOT), which began in September 2020, will build both a chatbot that serves as a virtual teacher, and an e-learning platform to have a conversation with a real teacher. Chatbot supports Generation Z students, especially in entrepreneurial studies and coaching.
Future students will most probably also use instant messaging and chats in their studies. They will be guided by an intelligent chatbot, which will be built in an international pedagogical development project. Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK), a pioneer in entrepreneurship and team coaching, has been invited to join an inter-university project as the only university of applied sciences.

Generation Z, currently in high schools and universities, is more likely to communicate via instant messaging or chatrooms, rather than have face-to-face conversations. They are already using text-shaped communication to gain knowledge and develop their skills. Young people prefer short texts, photographs, games, stories and step-by-step instructions presented in a fun way.

The project “Bot-learning as a modern teaching method for generation Z” (MELES-BOT), which began in September 2020, responds to this new way of learning. The project will build both a chatbot that serves as a virtual teacher, and an e-learning platform to have a conversation with a real teacher. Chatbot supports Generation Z students, especially in entrepreneurial studies and coaching.

Chatbot and the e-learning platform can be used to develop over-the-web teaching. Thanks to the bot, all those who cannot attend a live education for various reasons have equal educational opportunities. Remote connectivity also plays an important role in crisis situations such as a pandemic, when traditional classroom education cannot be arranged.

Chatbot to help in teaching at European level

Finnish part of the European development project is led by Lecturer Juha Tuominen from TAMK’s International Business unit. Senior Lecturer Erkki Hietalahti from Industrial Engineering will support the project with his programming expertise. Third member of the team, Senior Lecturer Vesa Vuorinen from Business Unit, is an expert on coaching pedagogy.

“We are particularly exploring the use of chatbot to enhance and to automate entrepreneurial studies at pan-European level. We are especially interested in how chatbots could be used more generally for teaching in different fields of study,” Hietalahti says.

This is a new approach to an individual way to study at person’s own pace. The project will also prepare e-learning materials and a guide to provide technical, methodological and educational support to those utilizing and using the bot.

The innovative bot is usable and scalable to vocational schools and higher education institutions. It will help those studying entrepreneurship in the future as well as those applying for entrepreneurial studies. Additionally, the bot can support entrepreneurship services, and the ones who have received start-up funding, or those who intend to become entrepreneurs. Furthermore, it also helps in coordinating work-related immigration.

Technology-based tools for use in training

The results of the project fit directly into the mainstream of educational system busting, namely Education 4.0, which utilizes technology-based tools to implement education in a non-traditional way.

Tampere University of Applied Sciences is an expert in applying artificial intelligence. “By experimenting we are developing new learning methods to respond to changes in our students' operating environment and to provide them with easy, modern ways of learning. We also want to be open to ideas from elsewhere”, says Tuominen.

“Bot-learning is a perfect example of this. By our own example we encourage the academic community to use the bot-learning method in the future.”

Student friendly bot enhances new type of entrepreneurial teaching and team coaching

TAMK has lengthy experience in entrepreneurial education and team coaching. “That is why we were asked to be the expert on this project”, says Vuorinen.

TAMK’s Proakatemia and Y-Campus, both coaching trained team entrepreneurs, will equip students with the skills necessary in the future. “We learn by trying and doing together.”

“In the future, our goal is to educate and coach our students to be, among others, artificial intelligence talents who solve corporate world’s digital challenges. Bot-learning complements this way of learning brilliantly.”

Generation Z students can experiment and develop their own competence in a direction that is just right for themselves. A chatbot providing reliable information enhances entrepreneurial instruction and students’ self-learning. Human beings learn and solve issues, but the chatbot helps, remembers and tirelessly supports both student and coach, regardless of the time of day.

TAMK’s Knowledge Strengthens European University Cooperation

There are four universities and one company from four different countries as project partners; Veliko Tarnovo University from Bulgaria, Leipzig University from Germany, Maritime University of Szczecin Poland, University of Aveiro from Portugal. Tampere University of Applied Sciences has an expert role in the project.

In addition, University of Luxembourg, Northern Business School from Germany and University of the Aegean from Greece take part in the project. The 3,5-year project has received funding from the European Commission's Erasmus+ program.

Juha Tuominen is happy to see that TAMK's entrepreneurial teaching and coaching skills have been noted.

“It is a pleasure to be involved in this project and to strengthen European university cooperation with professional life-oriented skills from Tampere University of Applied Sciences. It is also noteworthy that we are the only higher education consortium whose project work is led by a company.”

Feel free to contact us:

Juha Tuominen
Project Leader
Lecturer, International Business
juha.tuominen [at] tuni.fi, 040 820 3030

Vesa Vuorinen
Senior Lecturer, Business
Entrepreneurship and Team Coaching

vesa.vuorinen [at] tuni.fi, +358 45 1506627

Erkki Hietalahti

Senior Lecturer, Industrial Engineering
erkki.hietalahti [at] tuni.fi, +358 40 847 8578

 

Project website: http://bot.meles-project.eu/

Project in EU project register

 


Text: Hanna Ylli
Photo: Shutterstock, modified by Minttu Rantanen

 

Latest news in category Research

Latest news