Jill Watson: Scaling and Deploying an AI Conversational Agent in Online Classrooms


We present a highly performant and scalable conversational virtual teaching assistant, Jill Watson, to enhance teaching presence in online classrooms. Jill Watson leverages the generative AI capabilities of ChatGPT and the underlying OpenAI’s GPT large language models, along with dense passage retrieval and retrieval-augmented text generation to answer student questions about instructor-approved courseware anytime and anywhere. This courseware may include natural language text from textbooks, user guides, video lesson transcripts, course websites, and class syllabi. This version of Jill Watson has been deployed in several classes with close to 1300 students at the Georgia Institute of Technology as well as in two community colleges in the Technical College System of Georgia. We have found that Jill Watson enhances the positives of conversational courseware (such as answering questions and engaging in conversations anytime and anyplace) and suppresses the negatives of large language models (such as biases and hallucinations).



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