"Real Chatbots" vs Stored Questions and Responses

Is anyone doing real chatbots with chatbot engines, code, cloud servers, etc? Is this approach too much, too soon for the learning industry and for Articulate courses (which can not integrate chatbots)? Can anyone share their experience. My gut tells me that we are reacting to the latest trend and may not be ready for it (unless you are Google or Amazon). Thanks.

9 Replies
Matthew Bibby

It's relatively easy to to program a basic chatbot and even just using stored questions and responses, they can appear to be more sophisticated than they actually are. 

Coding something like Siri or Alexa? I don't think any of us have the skills or budget for that! That takes teams of very skilled people, with access to proprietary code, powerful servers, massive user bases for testing and learning and very deep pockets.

Possible... sure. Realistic? Probably not at this stage.

Prove me wrong? Please.

David Goodman

How can I prove the great Matthew Bibby wrong?? I agree with your comments. There are engines out there that cut down on the costs and level of effort but you need a developer, DB and some cloud services, etc. These are not the normal desires of an ISD. I was hoping for something in between stored q&a within SL360 and the full chatbot coding.

Matthew Bibby

I'd love to be proved wrong David! It would be great to integrate high quality, machine learning based chat bots into a course... but we just aren't there yet. Give it time though.

At the moment, it's pretty easy for anyone to spin up a Facebook or Slack chat bot. I know that Matt Smith from Pure Learning has played around with this a bit. He's a good bloke, so if you wanted to discuss the pros and cons, reach out to him on LinkedIn or whatever. 

If you can give me some more info on how you'd use this, maybe I'll do some further research into the topic and write a tutorial on the topic at some point...

David Tait

I've played with chatbots a little using Google Dialogflow. As Matt says above it's fairly straight-forward to create something for deployment via one of the built-in integration options (Facebook, Twitter, Skype etc).

As a stand alone piece they have loads of potential and are great for FAQs (Microsoft have quite a simple FAQ engine) but I can't see anyone ever having the budget to do any more than embed in an eLearning course as a web object.

If they were inclined, I could envisage an organisation with a massive training library using an FAQ chatbot to signpost to relevant content but my experience is of people wanting more for a lot less in the last couple of years so it's hard to imagine anyone paying for this, unless the LMS providers start building it in as a way of navigating their systems.

My favourite integrations that I've played with are Skype and Twitter. With Skype you share a URL with someone and they can click it to add the Chatbot to their Skype contacts. They then just type messages to the bot in Skype and interect with it that way. Twitter is pretty cool too as you can set it up to reply to people via DM. Again, as Matt alluded to above, integrations like this can make quite a simple premise appear more sophisticated than they actually are.

Here's a link to my basic demo which is embedded as a web object in Storyline 360: https://www.4pt-elearning.co.uk/chatbot/sl-chatbot-integration/story_html5.html 

Santhosh Kumar

Hello Community! 

Delighted to let you know that we have recently launched Project Disha, a chatbot powered e-learning course (in Storyline) on Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH). 

Here's an article published in elearningindustry about this project: https://elearningindustry.com/project-disha-worlds-first-chatbot-powered-elearning-course

Wish this (Behind the scenes glimpse of what went into the making of the project) will inspire you to get started in leveraging the power of 'conversational learning' in your learning programs as well.

Please let us know if this interests you, and if you would like to know more about it...We would be happy to discuss.

Scott Wiley

I've been playing around with a much less AI-based, more JavaScript heavy method along the lines of a text-based adventure, or interactive fiction game. I started creating my own lexicon of nouns, verbs, and objects as an external JS file, as well as separate JS files for the game engine and a JSON structured description of rooms containing various objects and actions that can be taken in each.

However, that got me on the road to thinking more about how a chatbot might be utilized to serve either the same purpose, or along the lines of what Santosh described.

Recently I came across the dialogFlow chatbot and considering that as a possible option, but if including it in a Storyline file as a web object, it's hard to imagine how to get it interacting with the rest of a course, such as navigating to various content, etc.

Working in a highly regulated environment, I'm also wondering how well something like dialogFlow being a cloud-based service would work.

@Santosh, was Disha based on an existing chatbot tool or did you develop it from the ground up?

Santhosh Kumar

Hi Scott,

Glad to know you liked Disha! And, thanks for sharing your experiences.

DialogFlow is what we also used as the base for developing Disha. However, as you rightly guessed, in order to break free of the limitations thrown by DialogFlow, and to bring in more flexibility while integrating with the Storyline platform, we used additional tools and frameworks during the development process. In fact, Disha is designed to work with courses developed using, not just Storyline, but any of the e-learning authoring tools available in the market today (such as Captivate) with minor modifications.