De La Salle UniversityHow can chatbots help children create stories?

How can chatbots help children create stories?

A team of DLSU faculty is developing a conversational agent or chatbot to engage children in storytelling.

 In recent years, conversational agents have become more popular as a human-computer interface, especially with the development and release  of various commercialized agents like Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa. These agents are integrated into mobile systems, intelligent devices, and even personal computers.

Currently, the main function of chatbots is to perform tasks as an assistant to their users through simple command -and-follow instructions.

Software Technology Department Assistant Professor Ethel Ong saw this as an opportunity to explore the ability of conversational agents to provide support in the context of collaborative storytelling where they must be able to conceptualize ideas and generate appropriately related responses. Her team developed a virtual collaborative storytelling agent dubbed as ORSEN that aims to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) with conversational interfaces to provide humans with more convenient ways to interact with AI systems.

ORSEN is a chatbot that can be deployed through both Google Assistant or Google Home as a voice-based chatbot as well as through Firebase as a text-based chatbot.

By exchanging story segments through a continuous dialogue, ORSEN and the child can create a story collaboratively.

To do this, the team designed ORSEN to take on the roles of facilitator and collaborator.

The team has also identified and equipped the software with five collaborative dialogue strategies that encourage children to expound on their stories through a two-way conversation. ORSEN can prompt the children to narrate new events, describe various story elements like characters and settings, ask for specific details like color or size of the object, and even add its own story text.

The software is also designed to respond to specific commands that can trigger certain dialogue strategies when a child user asks for help in moving forward with the story. After a storytelling session, a user may choose to listen to ORSEN retell their created story that is reconstructed from the event chain.

Ong shares that there are various applications of the chatbot in the education sector, specifically to engage their human users in natural conversations by understanding sequences of text as a form of story and events about the latter’s life.

On concerns that chatbots might contribute to further increase in mobile use among children, Ong underscores that the technology would actually complement learning and interaction with parents and teachers. By constantly improving the software, they hope to help boost the creativity and learning of children.

Ong’s team is also looking into applying the software in other fields such as healthcare systems to understand users’ daily activities and behavior that impact their health practices, as well as business process outsourcing customer support to elicit details from human callers who report events surrounding their problems and concerns. The chatbot can also enrich the delivery of instructional materials in interactive narrative-based learning environments such as sharing information on museum artifacts or making science experiments and history lessons more relevant through sharing of daily experiences with learners.

Ms. Ethel Ong is an assistant professor of DLSU Software Technology Department and senior researcher of the Center

for Language Technologies of the College of Computer Studies – Advanced Research Institute for Informatics, Computing, 

and Networking (AdRIC). She is working with Dr. Ma. Joahna Mante-Estacio, an associate professor of the Department

of English and Applied Linguistics; Mr. Genaro Gojo Cruz, assistant professorial lecturer of the Department of Literature; 

and Ms. Jennifer Ureta, assistant professor of the Software Technology Department.

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