AskAshford: A Robust Knowledge Base for Questions that “Run Both Wide and Deep”

Concurrent Session 10

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Let’s discuss a 24/7 accessible knowledge base full of responses to some of the most common student questions.   We say the needs of our learners “run wide and deep”.   But what are students asking?  The content initially represented areas such as financial aid, but quickly expanded in unexpected ways.   

Presenters

Dr. Mindy Sloan is Associate Vice President, Student Success at Zovio. Included in her responsibilities are the Learning Services Writing Center, Ashford University Library Services, and University of the Rockies Library. Before joining Ashford University, she was Director, Planning & Effectiveness with Bridgepoint Education. Mindy has been Assessment and Evaluation Coordinator, Associate Dean, and Professor at Brandman University (Chapman University College), part of the Chapman University System. She joined the College of Education, Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Sloan is a lead reviewer for the Council for Exceptional Children and has conducted site visits for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges. She holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Educational and Counseling Psychology from the University of Kentucky, a B.S. from the University of Illinois, and B.F.A. from Northern Illinois University. She is a credentialed School Psychologist and licensed Clinical Psychologist.
In her current role, Kira acts as library liaison to two colleges, the College of Education and the College of Health, Human Services, and Sciences. Central to her responsibilities is providing library support during the course development and revision process. Kira holds MLIS from University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and an MA in English from San Diego State University.

Extended Abstract

Let’s discuss a 24/7 accessible knowledge base full of responses to some of the most common student questions.   We say the needs of our learners “run wide and deep”.   But what are students asking?  This knowledge base began with a menu of questions generated by student facing teams who are most familiar with the needs of learners.  The content initially represented areas such as financial aid, ordering transcripts, applications, and registering for classes.  But it quickly expanded in unexpected ways.

The development of learner questions migrated from being staff generated, to being student community generated.  Students can post questions for which there is no current answer in the system, and then receive a personalized response from someone knowledgeable in the respective area.   The AskAshford system is closely monitored to identify common themes and patterns, and content for those areas is then added to the knowledge base.  By monitoring student behavior, the community of learners generate the content.  This allows the content to stay most relevant to learners and for those in the organization to keep their fingers on the pulse of student needs. 

Building and maintaining AskAshford required collaboration from across the enterprise, agreement upon the “correct” answer to a question, and a sincere commitment to understanding the languages, perspectives, and needs of students.  It has been an exercise in teamwork and user-experience.  We look forward to sharing what we have learned thus far about our students and ourselves as we perfect this very helpful tool.