EdSights Launches ML-Powered Chatbot for Higher Education Institutions to Help Improve Student Retention and Wellness

SMS-based chatbot uses natural language processing and machine learning to proactively engage at-risk students and connect them with on-campus resources; already engaging 50,000+ students at higher education facilities nationwide

NEW YORK, Feb. 04, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- EdSights, an education technology company focused on improving student retention and wellness in higher ed, today announced the general availability of its student retention solution for higher education institutions throughout the U.S. EdSights is an SMS-based, machine learning (“ML”)-powered chatbot that gathers real-time insights into college students’ experiences to identify those that may be at-risk for dropping out. It presents colleges and universities with data-backed solutions to improve opportunity for intervention, and in turn, student retention.

EdSights uses natural language understanding to converse with students about their college experience and identify helpful on-campus resources if a struggle is detected. EdSights creates an open channel of communication with students to collect non-cognitive data in real-time and at scale, allowing institutions to uncover insights on areas that are hard to measure, such as a student’s sense of belonging or their at-home life, which oftentimes are the underlying catalysts for dropping out.

EdSights sends a text message to students at different points throughout a semester to ask how they’re feeling about their upcoming midterm/final or how they are balancing their course load while working full-time. Depending on the student’s response, they will be directed to an advisor or a specific set of resources that can address their challenge. If a student response triggers a certain threshold, an alert will also be sent to college administrators to engage the student directly to intervene. Students are also able to reach out to the chatbot proactively with any questions/concerns when in need of guidance. EdSights then monitors trends in reported student struggles and outcomes to share with the school through an administrative platform that displays data in an easy-to-read dashboard with specific "next steps" to help universities improve retention and student wellness.

College Atlas found that while 70% of Americans will study at a four-year college, less than two-thirds will graduate with a degree and 30% of freshmen students drop out after their first year of school. Colleges across the U.S. are impacted by low retention rates, but their traditional method of relying on readily available data, such as grades and class attendance, to identify at-risk students is not effective. The issue is that these are no longer key indicators, just symptoms of a larger problem, and schools that use this data are failing students. This old way of identifying at-risk students leaves them entirely out of the conversation. Schools need to be more proactive and seek student input to fully understand their barriers to success, which is what EdSights is striving to do.

“The U.S. is facing a college dropout crisis and higher education institutions are looking for solutions in all the wrong places,” said Carolina Recchi, co-CEO of EdSights. “Most colleges and universities operate under the assumption that what you see in the classroom, grades, and attendance, are the ultimate deciding factor of at-risk students, but these are often lagging indicators. There are a lot of micro-barriers that students can be facing, which are often the root of the problem but are tough to measure. EdSights establishes an open dialogue outside of the classroom to identify this important, non-cognitive data early on and at scale by proactively engaging students and getting to the root of their challenge.” 

Schools are encouraged to introduce the chatbot, named after the school’s mascot, at the beginning of students’ freshmen year by explaining that it is an opt-in program, available to them 24/7, that is designed to help them succeed. EdSights pilot programs found that the transparency and opt-in feature has translated into high engagement and low opt-out rates. In one pilot program specifically, the school saw a 12% increase in retention from freshman to sophomore year by implementing the EdSights program.

Dr. Paul Orscheln onboarded EdSights in his prior position at Missouri Western State University and was so impressed with the results that he is implementing use of the platform in his new position as VP of Enrollment at Westminster College MO. Speaking about his experience with EdSights, Dr. Orscheln said, “My experience working with EdSights has been phenomenal. Their approach to tackling student persistence is second to none. Involving our students in the retention management process, instead of relying solely on traditional student success indicators such as grades, class attendance, etc. has been a difference-maker.” He continued, “The use of artificial intelligence through chatbot technology has allowed our students to be continuously and purposefully engaged in their own journey to success and gave us insight into what our students are actually thinking and feeling about their college experience to provide a more holistic view of each student. Utilizing this strategy has produced some of the most profound retention outcomes I have experienced in my 20+ years working in enrollment management. As I move on to another institution, I’m excited to bring EdSights on board to assist us with our retention efforts. I have no doubt we will see the same level of success.”

“We founded EdSights to encourage institutions to view the dropout crisis from the students’ perspective by positioning them as the solution and not the problem. We programmed the chatbot to ask very direct, personal questions to pinpoint the exact reason a student is at-risk for dropping out and promptly connect them with the appropriate on-campus resource, while providing institutions with valuable data,” said Claudia Recchi, co-CEO EdSights. “Administrators are given access to a dashboard that clusters students based on common struggles and provides insights into risks and retention rates. We then use this data to inform administrators how they can intervene, whether there is a student who requires a follow up down the road or immediate intervention based on trigger words and phrases.” 

To receive a demo, more information or user testimonials please visit https://www.edsights.io/, or email us at hello@edsights.io.

About EdSights
EdSights is an education technology company focused on improving student retention and wellness in higher ed by providing universities a sustainable way to hear the voices of students at scale and uncover insights on areas that are hard to measure, such as a student's sense of belonging. Founded by 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 awardees Claudia and Carolina Recchi, EdSights utilizes machine learning and chatbot technologies to help higher education institutions increase retention rates while enhancing student wellness. To learn more, please visit our website or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Media Contact:
Samantha Breccia
FischTank Marketing & PR