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Zero-coding Chatbot for blended learning: Basics in kick-starting your own bot!
Donn Emmanuel Gonda, Xiangyu Hou, Leon Lei, Yuqian Chai

Last modified: 2018-05-04


Zero-coding Chatbot for blended learning: Basics in kick-starting your own bot! Abstract

Designing an on-campus blended learning experience can be challenging. On one hand, teachers are challenged by motivating the students to engage with the online learning materials. While on the other hand, providing meaningful and prompt feedback requires tremendous teachers’ time and attention to their students. Despite that, there are a number of tools and applications available for teachers to use to overcome these challenges. But without hands-on design experience, teachers are usually not fully empowered to develop their own online courseware. One of the popular tools that can be used to address these challenges is the intelligent tutoring system (ITS).


ITS is one of the early forms of artificial intelligence that is being applied in the field of education. These systems are usually paired with pedagogical agents or a virtual avatar where students can communicate or received some form of guidance. These systems provide learners with personalized feedback and guide them throughout the virtual environment (Ahn, et. al., 2017). However, creating a pedagogical agent requires complex computer programming skills and it is usually built from scratch to fit the intended educational purpose (Schroeder & Adesope, 2012). This makes it difficult for teachers to adapt existing systems or to attempt in creating a similar version. But with the recent AI developments, like neural networks and natural language processing, companies like Google, Amazon, or IBM, offers coding-free platforms that can enable a non-technical person to create a chatbot that can fit into their own needs. Using these chatbot platforms, The University of Hong Kong (HKU), through Technology-Enriched Learning Initiative, leverages on its experiences in integrating this technology to better enhance the learning experience of the students.


In this workshop, we would like to share our experience gained from developing a set of chatbots for an online blended learning environment. These chatbots will gamify the learning experience in a science and technology common core course in HKU. In the next 55 minutes, we will address the following issues:

●      How can we design chatbots without a strong technical background?

●      What are the processes involved in developing a chatbot (i.e. intents, entities, and dialogs)?

●      How can chatbots be used for facilitating course operations and inquiry-based learning?


Through the workshop, attendees will identify what and how chatbots can be designed for their own blended or fully online courses.

Key workshop activities

●      Introduction

○      Blended learning in HKU

○      HKU Open edX

○      What is a chatbot and why bother?

●      Basic authoring

○      Setting up your IBM account

○      IBM Watson Basics

●      Advanced authoring

○      Creating your intents

○      Creating your entities

○      Creating your dialog

●      Wrap-up

Intended participants

●      People who are planning to develop chatbot to support their blended or fully online courses

●      People who are interested in understanding the essentials of chatbot development and EdTech

●      Maximum number of attendants: 15

Required equipment

●      Projector with a connected computer

●      Computers (One per participant)

●      Good internet connections

●      Participants need to create one IBMID account


Schroeder, N., & Adesope, O. (2012). A case for the use of pedagogical agents in online learning environments. Journal of Teaching and Learning with Technology, 1(2), 43–47. Retrieved from

Ahn J. et al. (2017) Wizard’s Apprentice: Cognitive Suggestion Support for Wizard-of-Oz Question Answering. In: André E., Baker R., Hu X., Rodrigo M., du Boulay B. (eds) Artificial Intelligence in Education. AIED 2017. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 10331. Springer, Cham