We wanted to do this challenge mainly because we liked the idea of developing a human-like bot that serves a segment of users that includes both of us. Also because the challenge tackles a problem that we are facing daily: keeping up with college announcements.
What it does
Aside from answering frequently asked questions, ASU Bot is capable of providing advice to students within the context of their curricular life; including but not limited to:
- Reminding of important dates (Exams, Vacations, ..)
- Notifications of important releases (Announcements, Exam Schedule, Grades, ..)
- Answering questions regarding offered courses in any CHEP program
- Answering Add/Drop/Withdraw related questions
- Answer students regarding curriculum of any CHEP program
- Providing on-spot handling of IT-Related problems (College mail access, password reset, .. )
How I built it
Generally we used Facebook Messenger For Bots feature as mentioned in the challenge, we did this using ChatFuel platform. It is a great platform with lots of services/plug-ins that we integrated into our bot to make it run smoother, faster, and more efficient. We divided the bot into different blocks to which we mapped the answers based on the question supplied by the student/user.
Then depending on the answer, we handled some parameters that will be beneficial to us in future conversations with the bot so that we keep our own database instead of asking every user same questions every time. We used this database to target the users segment we send the notifications to, i.e., when we want to send a CESS Senior announcement, we check the database for CESS Senior students to whom we send it only.
Challenges I ran into
- Zero knowledge of how bots work prior to this project.
- Mapping answers using -relatively- big flowcharts, and then dividing them into blocks.
- Creating and saving variables in Chatfuel.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
- Learning a lot about Artificial Intelligence, FB Messenger Bots, and Chatfuel framework.
- Working on the project along with our academic studies, assignments, and exams.
What's next for ASU Facebook Messenger Bot
- As next steps, ASU Bot could be expanded to include more features than academic advising, to adapt with the students problems, i.e, including Student Affairs support handler.
- Polishing more AI replies.