Programming Artificial Intelligence for a Writing Center: Applications and Future Possibilities

Concurrent Session 3
Streamed Session Research

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Brief Abstract

 This presentation will provide an overview of artificial intelligence (AI) in academia and education in general. Specifically, this presentation will discuss the integration of a writing center chatbot into the online learning environment of first-year writing courses at a regional, state university.


Sipai Klein is an Associate Professor of English and the Director of The Writers’ Studio at Clayton State University. He earned a doctorate from New Mexico State University in Rhetoric and Professional Communication. He teaches courses on writing center education, visual design and rhetoric, technical communication, and first-year writing. He has published work in Computers and Composition Online, The Writing Center Journal, and the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship. His research interests include technology and writing instruction, service learning, and writing center pedagogy.

Extended Abstract

This presentation will provide an overview of artificial intelligence (AI) in academia and education in general. Specifically, this presentation will draw from the field and relate it to our own effort to program an artificial intelligence software, known as LochBot to our students, that employs natural language learning skills to respond to students’ inquiries through the university’s current learning management system Desire2Learn. This software, commonly known as chatbot technology, is becoming more widely integrated into consumer technologies and could become integral to our front facing technologies in both digital consumer and educational interfaces. This presentation, then, will discuss how our effort to craft the language of the chatbot and how we relied on feedback gained from the target audience through usability testing. In turn, we will also discuss methods used to establish feasibility and performance. We will also discuss how our testing argued strongly for partnership across the university community, including stakeholders in marketing and communication, public safety, counseling services, and information technology.

The presentation will also discuss our efforts to further benefit online education researchers, instructional technologists, and faculty by discussing our future plans for the AI and these possibilities, including integrating questions about assignments; searching for content on writing handouts (OWL) and linking back to questions posed to AI; providing around the clock writing resource for students; integrating with specific, high contact classes in the learning management system; possibilities for text-to-speech and speech-to-text adaptation for students with disabilities; wrapping translation services around the bot to serve multilingual students, and our integration of scaffolding learning activities into the chatbot.