Can Chatbots Help Fight Absenteeism with Joanna Smith and Nancy

In this eye-opening episode, host Mike Palmer dives into the alarming rise in chronic absenteeism among U.S. students, as highlighted by a recent New York Times article. The conversation pivots to explore how AI-powered chatbots and personal virtual assistants like “Ed” from AllHere are being leveraged to combat this issue, getting notice for their work in the LA Unified School Disctrict. Mike revisits his insightful 2021 interview with AllHere’s founder Joanna Smith, who discusses the company’s innovative use of conversational AI to foster engagement and support student achievement beyond the classroom.

The episode also features a lively exchange with the show’s resident AI co-host, Nancy, as they grapple with the promises and pitfalls of blending human and artificial intelligence in education. Key takeaways include the need for thoughtful design in integrating AI with human empathy, the potential for chatbots to serve as “empathy engines,” and the importance of keeping humans in the loop while leveraging AI’s scalability. We also reference the NYC chatbot fail discussed here.

Don’t miss this timely and thought-provoking exploration of how emerging technologies like chatbots could help solve real-world challenges like chronic absenteeism, while raising crucial ethical considerations about the role of AI in education and human development. Tune in for a nuanced discussion that will leave you pondering the future of human-AI collaboration in fostering student engagement and success.

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Episode References

MacDonald, C. (2024, March 31). NYC’s business chatbot is reportedly doling out ‘dangerously inaccurate’ information. Engadget.

Mervosh, S., & Paris, F. (2024, March 29). ​Why School Absences Have ‘Exploded’ Almost Everywhere. The New York Times.

Los Angeles Unified Launches Ed, a Pioneering Learning Acceleration AI Platform to Improve Student Achievement (3-20-24). (2024, March 20). AllHere.

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