by Byron Connolly

Deakin University students to get answers using IBM’s Watson

Oct 08, 2014 2 mins
Education Industry

Deakin University will use IBM’s Watson system to transform the way 50,000 students get advice and answers to questions.

In a world first, Deakin is working with IBM to create a student engagement advisor, which will allow new students at the university to use desktop and mobile devices to ask simple questions or more complex queries that require more personalised responses.

The advisor will be used through the university’s ‘DeakinSync’ online hub, which was created in 2013.

Watson interacts with users in natural language, and processes vast amounts of data to uncover new patterns and insights and learn from each interaction.

Over the coming months, Watson will consume thousands of pages of Deakin’s unstructured data contained in documents, presentations, brochures, and online to ensure users receive consistent, high quality responses to thousands of queries, IBM said.

Students may ask about what they need to enrol, the social activities at the university, or where they can find a particular building on campus. Over time, students who ask Watson a question can expect tailored information, personalised advice and information base on their individual profile, IBM said.

Professor Jan den Hollander, vice-chancellor and president at Deakin University, said Watson will change the way the university engages with broad communities in Australia and overseas.

“We will be able to provide them a single destination to find the information they need, how, and when they want it,” she said.

Deakin and the University of South Australia will be launching cognitive computing courses in early 2015 that give students access to Watson technology. These courses will be embedded into IT, computing, business, and engineering degrees.

The University of New South Wales is also considering how to introduce cognitive computing into its curriculum.

Meanwhile ANZ Bank’s Global Wealth division will soon be launching its ‘Watson Engagement Advisor Tool’ at its Sydney Grow centre and to more than 400 financial planners.

This will enable the bank to observe the types of questions coming from customers and financial advisors. This will cut the time it takes for each customer to receive a statement of financial advice from weeks to one session.

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