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Students make new friend in Lucy the chatbot

Antony Perry

7 February 2018: She’s intelligent, receptive and at your service, but she’s not quite what you’re expecting.

Meet Lucy, a new chatbot helping University of Canberra students get the help and information they need, when they need it.

Lucy is a streamlined service interface designed to answer students’ questions in a timely manner. By scanning support content like the University’s AskUC websites, Lucy can assist students with queries ranging from enrolment and class schedules to car parking and student services.

The system has been deployed ahead of the new semester and aims to provide meaningful support for students.

“People want to ask questions in a real way and get a response that’s meaningful for them,” Deputy Director, Planning and Architecture Tom Townsend said.

If Lucy can’t answer a question, students can ask the system to raise a ticket with the University’s Student Centre team to receive a response.

“The University of Canberra currently offers support via email, face-to-face, phone calls and FAQs. By adding chatbots we are giving our students and staff another avenue to find assistance quickly and easily,” Mr Townsend said.

Lucy joins Bruce, a chatbot dedicated to assisting staff, as the latest tool deployed by the University as it aims to streamline support services across the institution.

Bruce was unleashed earlier this year and, like Lucy, pulls information from within the University’s intranet to respond to staff questions. Staff can ask about leave, pay, travel, faculties or for IT help.

While Bruce and Lucy are still learning, the University hopes to enhance its chatbot experience and streamline interactions with staff and students in the future.

“It would be cool if I could ask Lucy ‘What time is my next class?’ and she responded, ‘It’s at 4pm and in Room 23’,” Mr Townsend said.