Mr. and Mrs. Winston: Chatbots to support the inclusion of students with SLDs
As we have explained it in our previous articles, our project’s approach is to use chatbots to support language education in vocational education and training. The project aims to make artificial intelligence accessible for teachers to use and create for their language courses. We have therefore created other supporting material such as our booklet, support lessons, pedagogical guide and chatbot design guide. All resources are now available on our website and ready for you to explore!
As Logopsycom always works on the accessibility of the content, you might wonder how chatbots can support all learners, including those with learning disorders.
In this project, we implemented all the possible adaptations we could to all the material both in terms of format and content. These adaptations were easily implemented in the booklet, the support lessons and both guides. However, as we put our chatbots on the Facebook Messenger app, we were not able to customize the format as we usually do. The app uses the sans serif font Helvetica Neue though, which is rather good for accessibility.
We started designing our chatbots with a microlearning approach to the content. Microlearning means that we only provide small chunks of information at a time, which are targeted at one specific micro-objective. This allows for learners to discover the material at their own pace, learning and practicing one topic at a time. Breaking down the information and establishing clear objectives are very important adaptations for learners with SLDs. They allow for better integration and memorization of the learnt notions. This approach is also an excellent way for any learner to implement a daily 5-minutes practice in their routine, which is highly recommended for successful language learning.
The personality of the chatbots also plays a great role in the inclusion of all learners. Our chatbots were designed with a patient, encouraging, cheerful, and non-judgmental personality. They both use emoji, GIFs and memes to engage the learners and create a more informal learning environment. This decision was made for learners who have difficulties in language learning, as they already experience some level of self-consciousness when they make mistakes in the classroom. By using our chatbots, not only will they never be judged but they will also always be congratulated on their good answers and encouraged when they make mistakes.
As these chatbots were created for daily practice, not evaluation, their objective is not to grade the student at the end of the exercises, but rather to guide them towards improvement through regular practice and immediate feedback. For each of the students’ answers to the exercises, the chatbot will not only say if the answer was correct or wrong, but also immediately provide a short explanation if the student made a mistake and will always offer the possibility to check the review card on the topic at the end of grammar exercises.
The revision cards are not only accessible at the end of the exercises but can also be requested with a simple sentence such as “What is the present simple?”. They were designed according to the recommended adaptations for students with SLDs and are presented in a concise and clear manner for students to download and be able to keep this quick reminder to revise autonomously when they need a reminder or right before a test.
Motivation and engagement
Another important advantage of using chatbots is its innovative and motivational aspect. As it provides a less formal, stress-free learning environment, a chatbot is a good way to engage and motivate students who experience difficulties in a language class, as it is often the case for learners with SLDs. In this way, chatbots can help fight performance anxiety while developing the students’ skills and knowledge. They can also help the students feel more responsible for their learning process, and therefore raise their self-esteem.
Stay in touch!
If you want to test our chatbots: