ImprovBot is a web application co-constructed by graduate students at the Centre for Digital Media and the Faculty of Medicine in Vancouver. Effective communication relies on both listening skills and positive responses. The need to have multiple opportunities to practice communication skills is a challenge that programs in the areas of health and life sciences constantly attempt to improve. Learners benefit from increased training of their professional communication abilities, yet often the time devoted to practice is scarce and there may be barriers to experimenting in front of peers. By the time learners undertake clinical practice they may be underprepared and have to fend for themselves working with broad and often prescribed textbook guidelines.
The team conducted interviews with biomedical visualization specialists and those who work with conversational AI agents in order to determine the design features needed. Learners are challenged to respond to chatbot prompts spontaneously through a series of games, to improve their listening skills and respond to offers with a “Yes, and” mindset. The Yes And, Repeat After Me, and a third Free Talk mode allow users to interact with our AI chatbot through recordable conversations that can be saved, sent, and replayed by peers or teachers. Interview mode helps users practice virtual interview settings.
ImprovBot is a scalable innovation that is currently undergoing further development to improve machine learning algorithms and expand the repertoire of activities in order to enrich the learner experience and provide multiple opportunities to exercise their communication skills.