Can you learn statistics and data science from a chatbot?

Korbit.ai

I’m deep in my learning journey to understand applied AI and machine learning. I’ve started by trying out intro courses to artificial intelligence for non-coders. I’m also looking at supplemental resources to help me understand more about data science and statistics, which are related to machine learning.

One of the most intimidating parts of learning applied AI is the math and statistics. I don’t have a background in either. I’ve been diving into resources like YouTube videos (Crash Course Statistics is amazing) and Khan Academy to learn the foundational math and statistics for machine learning.

But this process is piece meal. A lot of it is also pretty boring and requires piles of self motivation to sit through statistics lectures without the help of an instructor to liven it up. Plus, when I get stuck, there’s nowhere to turn.

So I was pretty stoked to stumble on Korbit.ai, a platform to learn data science by chatbot. Korbit.ai is the “first-ever personalized learning platform where you learn data science skills with an AI.”

Here’s what it looks like to have a chatbot as your teacher:

Learning statistics with Korbit.ai

I admit I was thrilled to find this in part because I’m a conversation designer. (side note: I got my job as a conversation designer by trying to break chatbots.) But I’m also looking for new ways to learn data science, math, and statistics.

Self-paced courses dominate when it comes to learn about data science. I’m struggling in them. Often I get stuck without anyone to ask questions to. There are forums but I have big gripes about forums. Questions often go unanswered, sometimes figuring out how to phrase a question is tough, and asynchronous communication sucks for problem solving. And then sometimes forums are just empty waste lands.

Also, self-paced courses require intense self motivation. I’ve yet to figure out how to motivate myself to sit through these stats explainers. I keep trying, slowly but surely I’m getting it (again, in part to the exceptional explainer videos on Crash Course Statistics).

Learning by chatbot could be a game changer for self paced courses

The idea of learning by chatbot seems like a game changer. Chatbots can motivate you to participate, help when you get stuck, and respond instantly to questions. I jumped from my other self-paced courses to try it out.

One of the things I loved about this course from the start is that you can customize it to the skills you want to learn.

After selecting my learning preferences, I was all set up. I dove into the content, starting with probability and statistics.

It started well. I liked the interactions and was curious to learn more. There are quizzes, explainer videos, and problem solving exercises peppered into the conversation. The bot has an easy going personalty too, which is appreciated.

Learning by chatbot: what works

Intro to interacting with the bot

Here’s what the chatbot did well:

  • Kept me engaged in the beginning, didn’t feel self-paced which I liked
  • Helped me along when it understand I needed more help understanding a concept
  • Offered many ways to learn: video, problems, programming, quiz
  • Asked for feedback about the learning experience

That last bit is critical since learners come in all shapes, sizes, and needs. The UX researcher in me wonders how they’re aggregating this information and how the data shapes the product.

Learning by chatbot: what needs improvement

Honestly expected the chatbot to understand this phrase.

Here’s where the learning experience is lacking:

  • Understanding all my answers
  • Missing help prompts (I got stuck, couldn’t get help)
  • Dry content

The first two can be fixed as the chatbot learns and improves (and by hiring a UX researcher to understand how your users move through the learning experience).

The last point, however, is challenging. Statistics is such a dry subject. It’s challenging for most people to learn. The bot shared videos on concepts between our chats but the videos about statistics were so dry that I struggled to learn past the basics and get the quizzes right.

The takeaway here is that if your content is lacking, it doesn’t matter if its served up by a bot or instructor.

I was drawn to this learning experience because it combines my research on upskilling with conversational AI. I haven’t finished the course. I likely won’t because I’m struggling with the content. The novelty of the bot wore off.

The personalized learning by chatbot was a hit

While this course had some flaws, the best part was the customized learning. I loved that I could answer questions about where I was at in my learning journey and get a personalized curriculum.

You can try it out on the homepage. Here’s what a look at some of the personalized learning questions and outcomes.

Personalizing your learning with Korbit.ai

I selected coding for the hands on experience, was not disappointed
Hello math.
Results

The possibilities of learning by chatbot are bright

While these courses position a chatbot as a teacher, there’s real value of having chatbot serve as an assistant to the human instructor. It can serve up supporting resources as a help desk, answer questions, give feedback, and more.

I see tremendous value with intelligent assistants built to support self-paced online courses.

Instead of having a list of other resources, a chatbot could instead offer up supporting documents depending on the level of a student’s understanding.

I’m on a mission to learn data science and applied AI quickly, so I can’t wait for that solution. So far now, it’s back to struggling through the basics in online courses. But I may check back in on this platform to see if I can get further along after some external training.

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