York launches a virtual assistant for undergraduate students

Student Virtual Assistant
Student Virtual Assistant

The following is a message to the York University community from Lisa Philipps, provost and vice-president academic, and Carol McAulay, vice-president finance and administration:

We are thrilled to announce that York has launched a virtual assistant as part of its commitment to enhancing student experience and developing a more student-centred approach.

What is it? The virtual assistant is an online tool accessed through Moodle (eClass for Glendon). It enables students to receive immediate answers to many of the most commonly asked questions related to campus services, course and program changes and extra-curricular activities. Students can pose questions in their own words and receive information that is tailored to their Faculty and program.

More than 100 students were involved in developing the new tool – a 24/7 virtual assistant that will be rolled out in stages. By March 2020, it will be available to undergraduate students in eight Faculties (School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design, Education, Environmental Studies, Glendon, Health, Lassonde School of Engineering, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, Science). Plans are being made to incorporate students in the Schulich School of Business and Osgoode Hall Law School.

The virtual assistant will provide students with uninterrupted advising support that complements in-person advice by our staff. It will allow students to connect with a range of readily available information and resources, often specific to their studies, whenever they need it. It will also direct students to the right on-campus, in-person services for more sensitive or complex matters.

Some topics covered by the virtual assistant include:

  • academic advising referrals,
  • Registrarial & financial services,
  • campus life & events,
  • career advising information, and
  • mental health & well-being resources.

What’s next?

The virtual assistant is being launched Jan. 28 to students in AMPD, Glendon and Lassonde. Students in those Faculties will receive an email inviting them to log into the virtual assistant via Moodle (eClass for Glendon students). Detailed instructions and FAQs will help students become familiar with this new tool and a feedback form will allow students to engage with us. A contest to name the virtual assistant will also be launched, giving students an opportunity to be part of this exciting program and develop a sense of pride and ownership.

Student interaction with the virtual assistant is key to helping the tool continually evolve. The more questions students ask, the more the data is refined to deliver the best possible answers on a growing range of topics. Content experts and program staff will ensure that the virtual assistant provides increasingly detailed responses as time progresses.

York is proud to collaborate with IBM, an industry leader, to connect our students to the right people, resources and support to help them meet their goals.

Learn more about the virtual assistant and other transformational projects underway at the University on the Transformation York website. If you would like to see how the tool works, click here for a demonstration.

Look for another email close to the launch of the five other undergraduate Faculties in March.