The Boundless School creates a chatbot with attitude

As a part of a recruitment campaign, the bot aims to screen would-be teachers for their ability to handle snarky teeens.


By Samuel Dunsiger

The Boundless School, an alternative outdoor-based high school in Palmer Rapids, Ontario, has launched an AI-powered chatbot with attitude to recruit new teachers.

Dubbed the BoundlessBot, the chatbot lives on the school’s website and deliberately provokes incoming teachers in a web-based screening process. Applicants can start a chat with the BoundlessBot, which asks them a series of questions and antagonizes them with snarky responses to their answers as a way to screen them on their ability to handle challenges and think on their feet.

Zulu Alpha Kilo was the agency that helped develop the campaign. While most chatbots are designed to be helpful, Ian Simpson, creative director at the agency, describes the BoundlessBot as edgy and difficult.

“It’s designed for teachers to reflect the experience that they’ll get teaching teens,” Simpson says. “[The chatbot] will ask you questions that will be intentionally frustrating, but also engaging and entertaining.”

The Boundless School approached Zulu about a new strategy to recruit teachers for the spring semester and development on a chatbot began last fall.

“We talked about the school’s goal for reaching candidates,” Simpson says. “We wondered if there was a way to recreate their unconventional interview process digitally and the notion of a chatbot arose. The school needs people who are resilient and unconventional teachers. The chatbot is a gatekeeper in that sense.”

The chatbot also reflects the school’s brand and culture, which Simpson says is unlike other schools. “The brand definitely has a sense of humour about itself and there’s an offbeat candor to their personality.”

To drive awareness of the BoundlessBot, new teachers are being targeted through paid ads on job search sites, as well as SEO and social ads on Facebook and LinkedIn. “We’re targeting teaching graduates and people who are relatively new to the profession,” he says. “New teachers are open to a more unconventional teaching experience. They’re able to keep up physically. And they’re not as locked into their careers and are more open to making a difference with teens. They have an appetite to challenging the status quo of what teaching may look like.”

Simpson adds that the campaign will last until March, at which point the school and the agency will review the BoundlessBot’s performance.