An online learning platform with good navigation, a feature of accessibility, improves student engagement as they can concentrate more on the content and learning in lieu of trying to determine what to do next. While a well-structured and designed navigation helps reduce clutter as well as the presentational complexity of a course, this feature does not eliminate the learning curve of using a new platform. It always takes some time for users to figure out the platform’s organization.
As evidenced by my 4-year experience using Paamsongre Courseware at SAU, there are always many student questions the first few weeks of the semester. These questions span from determining platform navigation and assignment due dates, locating course assignments, lectures, activities, calendar, and syllabus, submitting assignments, to verifying whether assignments have been successfully submitted. As the semester progresses, not only do the volume of questions decreases, but their nature also shifts into more content-related questions.
The chat box component of Paamsongre Courseware, introduced earlier, constitutes the main route for students to ask questions and have them answered. This feature has significantly improved communication between students and the instructor in that it is not only accessible on every course page enabling students to ask questions with a click, but it is also accessible on multiple devices (laptop, desktop, smartphone) on the instructor’s end, which shortens the response time. Its instant messaging (IM) characteristic enables students to see if the instructor is online and vice versa. It also enables the instructor to know from which page a student has initiated the chat enabling answering questions with more precision. Fundamentally, the chat feature in Paamsongre Courseware generates instantaneous communication making it easier for students to have their questions answered and clarify points of confusion.
Although the chat component has been very helpful in handling student questions in a timely manner, its main limitations are that:
- The instructor is not available 24/7 to answer questions.
- The reaction time, although shorter than emails’, could still prevent some students from moving as fast as they would like because the instructor could be busy and not be able to answer questions right away.
To address these two main limitations of the Paamsongre Courseware chat system and unintendedly address other general shortcomings of online learning – lack of instant communication, lack of timely feedback, course navigation issues, unclear instructions and expectations – the next logical opportunity in Paamsongre Courseware is the the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Chatbots.