New digital solutions improve the quality of the academic environment

Language technologies
Madara Mierina demonstrating virtual assistant Digne

Faculty of leading universities and businesses have developed the study chatbot Digne: a 100% digital course ‘Civil Protection’, as well as a customized MT engine for academic personnel. These solutions contribute to more rapid transformation of the academic environment by improving the quality of existing studies and making them more progressive and competitive. 

To strengthen the digital capacity of leading Latvian universities, uniform digitization initiatives for sharing were introduced in five Latvian universities by learning from universities around the world and the global and local ICT sector. These initiatives were implemented under the European Social Fund project ‘Digitization initiatives for engagement of students and improvement of the study quality at the University of Latvia and partner universities’ (No. The digital tools developed provide an opportunity to enhance students' digital skills, bringing them closer to the needs and requirements of the future labor market. 

“Digitization is an integral part of the academic process and its role will continue to increase. By implementing initiatives that strengthen the digital capacity of Latvian universities, and creating integrated and future-driven academic content, the global competitiveness of the universities is also indirectly increased. The project solutions clearly demonstrate that by cooperating with universities and leading ICT companies, we can make a significant contribution to the creation of an advanced and competitive academic environment and provide significant support for the improvement of study courses. We were able to develop new and unique tools: Latvian success stories like the chatbot Digne,” claims prof. Signe Bāliņa, Advisor to the Rector of the University of Latvia on Digitization.

“We are really excited and proud that in cooperation with the consortium led by the University of Latvia we were able to create a unique tool to support students and the academic staff, that uses the latest generation of AI language technologies,” says Kaspars Kauliņš, Business Development Manager of SIA ‘Tilde’. 

Virtual assistant Digne is integrated into the course ‘Civil Protection’. For students, Digne will prepare individual data on the progress of studies and results, help to prepare for exams, motivate during the study process and provide information on the organization of study courses. The chatbot will help the academic staff communicate with students and enter grades to avoid doing it manually, as well as to create reports. This will free up staff from administrative tasks and allow them to devote more time to research.

“I believe that Digne is a good starting point that will demonstrate what the technology can offer and contribute to the development of digital skills in the higher education; it will be followed by other virtual assistants to support learning of various academic courses,” adds Kaspars Kauliņš.

To ensure that the new knowledge is not just a formal study of the course content, the 100% digital course ‘Civil Protection’ also offers more advanced, integrated learning methods, like gaming. By experiencing various situations in Minecraft, the students can strengthen their theoretical knowledge in practice. This makes the course content more interesting for students, but also facilitates the work of lecturers in an environment where a large number of students need to be trained at the same time. This is particularly important in the current geopolitical climate, where understanding and knowledge of how to deal with crisis situations is essential for everyone in society.

In the framework of the project, the MT tool was also customized to the academic environment by including a terminology management solution that allows term collections for more accurate translation results. This tool can be simultaneously used to not only translate content into Latvian, but also to translate Latvian courses into English. 

The project ‘Digitization initiatives for engagement of students These initiatives were implemented under the Latvia and partner universities’ is implemented from 1 November 2022 to 31 December 2023. Its financing amounts to EUR 2,060,395 and is implemented with the support of the European Social Fund.

The consortium of the project ‘Digitization initiatives for engagement of students These initiatives were implemented under the Latvia and partner universities’ consists of five Latvian universities: the University of Latvia (UL), Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies (LBTU), Vidzeme University (ViA), SIA Biznesa, mākslas un tehnoloģiju augstskola RISEBA, and A/S Transporta sakaru institūts (TSI), as well as three companies: SIA Tilde, SIA Baltijas datoru akadēmija, and SIA Datorzinību centrs.