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Meet Cara…a new approach to engagement

Meet Cara…a new approach to engagement

05 May 22
 | 6 MINS

Cara, NUI Galway’s pilot digital assistant, helps the university to serve and encourage its students through every step of their university experience.  

John Clancy, a 1996 graduate of Commerce, Law and Human Resources at NUI Galway and founder and CEO of Chatspace, the Galway-based AI start-up that developed Cara, talks about how AI can benefit the educational experience. 


Tell us about your work with NUI Galway

We were approached by NUI Galway in 2021 to look at how our AI platform could be adopted to support student engagement and help safeguard student success. After a consultation process, we developed the first phase of our partnership with the digital assistant Cara. We are delighted that NUI Galway is the first university in Ireland to upgrade student services with a pioneering AI powered decision intelligence platform.

What is decision intelligence?

Decision Intelligence is the commercial application of AI to optimise business performance. Basically, we’re like a virtual copilot allowing organisations to fulfil their potential, meet targets and create value. Through our data analytics, we reveal the story of your data to support better decision making.  

The platform at NUI Galway is providing student engagement, as well as generating insight-led data to enhance decision-making. There is nothing more frustrating than asking a question, only to have it answered three days later. Lecturers and faculty are often bombarded with repetitive questions on a daily basis – AI can help students find answers to their most commonly asked questions in seconds through support automation and conversational intelligence. Not only does this free up a lot of time for educators who can focus more on individualised support, but it also helps students spend less time tracking down answers or waiting for a response to their questions. Also, due to Covid restrictions, students are balancing learning remotely and on campus. They may be experiencing isolation or a decline in mental health. A digital assistant can help them feel more engaged with their university and also, direct them to any support services they need. Cara automatically learns from its interactions so it is continually getting smarter. Eventually, it will immediately provide the first-line of support ,rather than having to refer to a support team. The end goal is to ensure students have a rewarding learning, personal and professional experience through every step of their university journey.

So what does the future look like?

Personalisation is one of the biggest trends in Education. With the use of AI, students now have a personalised approach to learning programs based on their own unique experiences and preferences. AI can adapt to each student’s level of knowledge, speed of learning and desired goals so they’re getting the most out of their education. Plus, by analysing each student’s specific needs, teachers and professors can adjust their courses to address the most common knowledge gaps or challenge areas before a student falls too far behind. The benefits of AI for the education sector are endless, and we are excited to work with NUI Galway and other higher education institutions to deliver solutions that support students through a successful education path.


John Clancy

John has had a lifelong passion for technology and startups, which brought him to the South Pacific serving as a CEO for Denis O’Brien’s telecommunications network, Digicel, and back home to Ireland developing an ehealth platform before founding Chatspace. Within five months, Chatspace had already won a contract with one of the world’s largest enterprises, Nestlé and is providing solutions in conversational AI, predictive analytics and decision intelligence. 


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