Lancaster University adopts AWS chatbots to support student services

Lancaster University

The chatbot provides answers to student questions about their studies and social life

Lancaster University has launched a chatbot for students to help them navigate their way through the university world, including serving up information about their studies and social life.

Built on AWS, the chatbot allows students to ask questions and receive contextual replies, as if they’re chatting to a human. They can ask questions about their timetable, tutors and grades, or perhaps find out about clubs and societies that may be relevant to their interests.

For example, students may want to find out when their next lecture is, what grade they achieved in their last exam or the deadlines for assignments. They can also find out information about the local area and facilities, such as where they can find a free computer to use or the opening times of pubs and bars.

“With Ask L.U., Lancaster University is at the forefront of voice interfaces for its students,” said Paul Harness, director at Lancaster University’s Information Systems Services (ISS). “Ask L.U. enhances our existing iLancaster mobile app with a range of student-focused voice services and gives us a base on which we can build efficient, voice-driven digital services in the future.”

Ask L.U works on both mobile and using the Amazon Echo smart speaker, authenticating user data using Amazon Cognito and providing a completely personalised experience.

It’s been built using the whole suite of AWS services, including AWS Cloudwatch, AWS Virtual Private Cloud and AWS ElasticSearch, with Amazon Lex and Amazon Alexa providing the natural speech tech.

“Ask L.U. delivers a whole host of information for students, which they can easily and quickly access using their voice,” ISS head of IT Partnering and Innovation Chris Dixon said. “This modern and innovative way of delivering information fits in perfectly with their packed academic and social lives.”

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