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How Students Are Connecting with AI-Powered Resources

Real students sharing their stories about their interaction with institutionally-branded chatbots powered by Adaptive AI

First-time freshman. Seniors. Residential students. Commuters. No matter where they are in the student lifecycle, students recognize the importance of one special relationship they’ve developed on campus. It may come as a surprise that this relationship is not with a person, but is instead with an AI-powered resource.

At Westminster, it’s Winston the Blue Jay.

At Jacksonville University, it’s Nelly the Dolphin.

At Athens State University, it’s Hebrew the Bear.

We recently shared a three-part series focused on reimagining the student experience, the barriers and motivations associated with student persistence, and the role financial stress and mental health play in a student’s success. Significant research has been conducted on the barriers to student persistence:

  • Academic engagement

  • Financial distress (including food and housing insecurity)

  • Wellness (specifically mental health and wellbeing)

  • Sense of belonging

It’s time to hear from students themselves and hear how our Adaptive AI Persistence Framework, specifically the use of SMS text messaging, has positively impacted how they feel on campus and their ability to persist.

You Heard it Here

Students from Westminster College, Jacksonville University, and Athens State University recently shared their experiences with the AI-powered text messaging they receive on their campuses. Interestingly, none of them felt as though their conversations were automated but rather felt like they were connecting with someone real on the other side and that their interactions were personal.

These students shared multiple experiences where Winston, Nelly, or Hebrew heard their opinions and concerns and replied with helpful options or names of people to connect with. Students feel that their college or university wants them to have a great experience, is concerned about each and every student, and that the text check-ins always come at just the right time.

"Winston checks in on me and it’s a sign that the administration of my college is thinking about the students and wants to make sure they’re doing ok because he will ask about how you’re doing academically and how you’re doing in terms of your social life ..."

Immediate Support at Just the Right Time

Multiple students shared stories of how Winston, Nelly, or Hebrew reached out at the right time and provided a safe space where they could reply honestly. Students feel that the information they get in return is invaluable and instrumental to their academic, social, and mental success on campus. Whether it was a poll to check in on how students were feeling at key times in the semester, words of support during finals week, or fun questions and GIFs that made students smile, these text messages made students feel supported and connected.

Meaningful interactions included:

  • The ease with which a student can get information. One student noted how she could be walking across campus, think of a question, send a text message, and get an immediate answer. She really appreciated how she could get the information she needed in the moment she was thinking about it.

  • Another student discussed how, even in the times where an answer was unknown, the response included the right person to connect with to get more information. He knew that he could rely on this text messaging capability to either get the answer or get connected to the right person.

  • Several students discussed how text messaging with Winston, Nelly, or Hebrew helped with mental health concerns, specifically that someone was reaching out to ask how they were doing, if they were feeling overwhelmed, or if they were feeling stressed. Specific examples include:

    • A student who struggled academically in the first semester was connected with tutoring resources and an academic advisor.

    • A student whose mental health was impacted by unexpected academic performance who was connected with both academic and mental health resources.

    • A student who also works full time, is married, and a mother to two children who felt overwhelmed and mentally exhausted was provided with the space to reflect on what she needed in that moment.

    • A student who was feeling down, having trouble sleeping, and challenged by work-life balance was provided with both on- and off-campus resources and connected to the student counseling center for an appointment.

In all of these situations, students were able to get immediate information and support. They were not responding to a survey where their individual responses would be included in an aggregate and used months from now, but were instead getting direct and personalized responses to the issues they were experiencing in real-time. The mere existence of this real-time response and support immediately made students feel better, feel the administration cared about them and their success, and feel stronger because they were able to get what they needed at that moment.

Using AI and SMS Text Messaging the Right Way

By using EdSights Adaptive AI Persistence Framework, these colleges and universities are proactively and efficiently supporting students at scale while, at the same time, providing increasingly personalized responses to students. Academic engagement, financial distress, mental health and wellness, and a student’s sense of belonging on campus are barriers to persistence all campuses face.

Think about how you might improve student persistence on your own campus if you had a more robust, efficient, and student response driven resource to connect with students at the individual level.

"I enjoy texting Hebrew because he kind of makes my day when I need a pick me up or when I need someone to ask how I am doing and he hits it right at the perfect time and I just love it and I appreciate it and I enjoy it every day."



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