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University of Canterbury Elevating Education with Tech

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The University of Canterbury (UC) and a leading technology company have collaborated to elevate the student experience, bolster research capabilities, and enhance employability by staying at the forefront of technological innovation.

Keith Longden, the Executive Director of Planning, Finance, and Digital Services at the University of Canterbury, said the collaboration represents a significant milestone in UC’s Strategic Vision, Tangata Tū Tangata Ora 2020-2030. This partnership greatly advances UC’s goals and aspirations as an engaged, connected, and future-focused university.

The University already utilises various products from that leading technology company, and this new collaboration aims to optimise the benefits of those investments while exploring additional opportunities for progress.

Given the leading tech company’s prominent position as a leading global game developer, early access to their gaming innovations and products proves advantageous for degree programmes like UC’s Bachelor of Digital Screen (Hons) and Applied Immersive Game Design. It ensures the programmes remain up-to-date and relevant, empowering graduates with valuable skills that increase their employability in the industry.

“We are thrilled about the potential collaborative opportunities between both organisations, as we possess extensive industry expertise in gaming, film production, cloud services, and Artificial Intelligence,” expressed Longden.

Furthermore, Sam Witters, the Director of Digital Screen, emphasises that their students represent the future of creative media in Aotearoa and globally. The collaboration with the leading technology company is a shining illustration of their commitment to bridging the gap between the commercial and academic realms, enabling them to collaborate harmoniously. Through this partnership, they are equipping their students with the necessary tools to shape and revolutionise the future of digital entertainment.

According to Chief Digital Officer Michael Oulsnam, one of the initial remarkable joint initiatives resulting from the collaboration is the introduction of a new UC chatbot. It distinguishes itself from regular chatbots.

Initially, the chatbot’s capabilities will focus on responding to frequently asked questions and providing publicly available information. For instance, it will be able to assist users in finding study spaces across the campus and guide them on how to book these spaces.

The chatbot’s data is confined to private UC data storage, ensuring that it does not retrieve answers from external sources on the internet. Instead, the information will be derived from UC’s Library and Contact Centre teams, emphasising accuracy and proper data maintenance.

“With each interaction, the chatbot’s capabilities will evolve, thanks to the efforts of the Digital team, as they refine and expand its knowledge base,” states Oulsnam.

He also highlights that the chatbot’s programming includes clear directives, enabling it to comprehend its role precisely and operate within set parameters. It ensures that the chatbot avoids attempting to answer questions beyond its scope, focusing solely on providing accurate and relevant information.

Moreover, Vanessa Sorenson, the managing director of a leading tech company in New Zealand, expresses her optimism about collaborating with the University to unlock even more opportunities for the university community through the intelligent utilisation of technology.

Vanessa acknowledges the University of Canterbury’s ambitious and innovative stance on technological transformation, evident in their endeavours to support students throughout their learning journey and foster a screen industry on campus. She admires how the University drives such developments to benefit its students and staff and improve the Canterbury region.

The collaboration between leading tech companies and the University, alongside the upcoming introduction of the Generative AI chatbot, marks a significant milestone in UC’s ongoing digital transformation journey. This partnership exemplifies their commitment to leveraging technology to enhance various aspects of university life, making it a remarkable step forward in embracing the potential of digital advancements.


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