Meet SAVY: Student Virtual Assistant launches with new name


SAVY, the Student Virtual Assistant, interacts with students through a chat-like interface to help them get connected to resources for academic success, health and wellness, student life, campus services and career development.

SAVY logo

SAVY is a software-based agent, built on IBM’s Watson platform through a collaboration between York’s Division of Students, University Information Technology, York’s Faculties and service areas, and guided and informed by students. It is populated with content designed to help students perform tasks related to their academic journey at York. It will point students toward accurate information relating to the questions asked, recommend relevant resources, offer directions and wayfinding, provide reminders about upcoming deadlines and connect students to other resources, people and places on campus.

SAVY’s name was announced on Sept. 9, after a successful naming contest that gathered 1,544 entries and 1,064 unique name suggestions from 733 students.

With SAVY, students can access general information via mobile phone and online, 24/7, 365 days a year. It serves as students’ first point of contact, designed to provide relevant, targeted information without the need for searching. The vision is to create a “digital ecosystem” that will provide answers to students’ questions, guide decision making over the course of their academic journey and push customized, timely and targeted information to individual students.

“We are excited to launch SAVY, the student virtual assistant, to all of our undergraduate students this month,” said Donald Ipperciel, chief information Officer, University Information Technology (UIT). “Built on the IBM Watson platform, it leverages artificial intelligence to allow students to find the information they need using SAVY’s chat interface. The future is bright for SAVY, as it will continue to grow, with new features and enhancements and content to make it a best-in-class chatbot.”

All undergraduate students can access SAVY via eClass (formerly Moodle for Keele Campus students) and the Current Students website. In January 2020, students from the School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design, Glendon (English content) and the Lassonde School of Engineering were provided with access. In May 2020, access was expanded to include the Faculties of Science, Health, Environmental & Urban Change (formerly Environmental Studies), Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and Education.

In early September 2020, students in the Schulich School of Business gained access and French language content was added for Glendon students. Osgoode Hall Law School students will receive access at the end of September 2020.  A personal email will be sent to Osgoode students when the student virtual assistant is ready for them. The September 2020 release includes expanded Financial Services content and new Bookstore and Library Services content.

“Having a tool like SAVY at students’ fingertips, particularly at this current time, will greatly support the York student experience by connecting students with the resources they need to help them along their educational journey,” explained Brendan Schulz, executive director student success, Division of Students. “We hope that our students will enjoy using it, and that SAVY will be their go-to resource throughout their time at York University.”

SAVY isn’t human and requires training to respond to queries. The more students use SAVY, the better it will get at providing the best possible answers to their questions. In addition to simply using it, students will also help train the virtual assistant by providing feedback through a feedback survey that is served to them whenever they say goodbye to SAVY. As well, students can give feedback via a thumbs up or thumbs down button as they’re interacting with it. A Technical Issue Reporting Form is also available in eClass and the website.

Staff will review comments and feedback to continually see what should be added, improved and changed based on student need and impact.

Visit the SAVY website for more information including FAQs for Faculty and staff.