Call: Masterclass: Designing and developing a conversational chatbot

Masterclass: Designing and developing a conversational chatbot

2nd July 2018, Church House, Belfast, Cost: £150 – In conjunction with the 32nd British Human Computer Interaction conference

Instructor: Professor Michael McTear (

This practical hands-on course will introduce attendees to the concepts, methods, and issues involved in the design and development of conversational chatbots. Following a brief introduction to chatbots and conversational interfaces, the course will explore relevant technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, Human-Computer Interaction, and Natural Language Processing. Existing tools and developer platforms will be introduced and compared. The main part of the course will be devoted to hands-on design and development of a sample chatbot using the Actions on Google framework, which supports the building of chatbots for Google Assistant.


Introduction to chatbots and conversational interfaces

Definitions, types of chatbot, use cases
The technology of chatbots: the role of Artificial Intelligence, Human-Computer Interaction, and Natural Language Processing
The chatbot development lifecycle

Tools for chatbot development

Overview of messaging platforms
Authoring tools and frameworks
Chatbot analytics

Hands-on tutorial: developing a chatbot

Introduction to the Actions on Google platform for building a chatbot for the Google Assistant and many other devices
Elements of the chatbot architecture: Actions and Invocation, Conversation, Fulfillment
Designing the conversation flow
Using Dialogflow for natural language understanding and dialogue management
Creating an agent
Defining intents and entities
Defining conversation flow: slot-filling dialogues, follow-up and fallback intents
Building fulfillment: using a webhook for business logic
Using Google Templates: an alternative approach using pre-defined templates and personae
Previewing the chatbot using the Actions Simulator

Discussion and Q&A

The importance of chatbot design: guidelines
Evaluation criteria
Future directions


Michael McTear is an Emeritus Professor at Ulster University with a special research interest in spoken language technologies. He is the author of several books, including Spoken Dialogue Technology: Toward The Conversational User Interface, Springer Verlag, 2004, Spoken Dialogue Systems, Morgan and Claypool, 2010, (with Kristiina Jokinen), Voice Application Development for Android, Packt Publishing, 2013 (with Zoraida Callejas), and The Conversational Interface: Talking to Smart Devices, Springer, 2016 (with Zoraida Callejas and David Griol). He was Visiting Professor at the University of Hawaii (1986-87), the University of Koblenz, Germany (1994-95), and University of Granada, Spain (2006, 2007, 2008) and was a visiting researcher for two summer internships at British Telecoms Research Laboratories. Professor McTear has delivered keynote addresses and tutorials at many conferences and workshops and has participated in 7 European funded projects and in 4 nationally funded projects. He also played a leading role in several projects with hospitals that involved designing and developing voice user interfaces to support home monitoring for patients with diabetes and to measure and analyze INR readings.

Submit your work to 32nd Human Computer Interaction Conference in Belfast (2-6 July, 2018)


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