IT Teaching Resources

Designing Your Own Chatbot

Design, customize, and refine a chatbot tailored to your needs and interests.

Technology Use Case Promising practices Tool

Presenter: Reuben Thiessen, Emerging Technology Lead, Stanford Accelerator for Learning

Recording of the Session

View Presentation Here

Download Chatbot Design Framework Worksheet

Central Questions:

  • How could we build chatbots that are both flexible and predictable in teaching and learning contexts?
  • Which techniques can make interactions feel unique and personal?
  • What strategies can help your chatbot consistently deliver high-quality responses?

Key Quotes:

  • “It’s not like Google search where you just kind of throw a couple of keywords in. But it’s more around being as specific as possible.” – Reuben (50:19)
  • “You can model out an actual conversation as part of your system prompt, and it uses that as a [guide to understand], ‘okay, that’s how you want me to respond.'” – Reuben (58:19)
  • “Continual refinement [is essential for creating a chatbot] that really suits your needs.” – Reuben (47:14)


  • A system prompt is the key part of every generative AI chatbot; it is a set of instructions that guides chatbot responses, ensuring interactions are relevant and aligned with your design goals.
  • A carefully designed system prompt answers these questions:
    • Who should the chatbot act like?
    • Who are some potential users of this chatbot?
    • What kind of posture and tone should the chatbot take?
    • Can you constrain the scope, and place some limitations on the interactions?
    • Are there any behavioral guardrails you’d like to put in place?
  • User Start Messages are example sentences that are a great way to model to your users how they can most effectively interact with your chatbot.
  • Hugging Face Assistants offers a free and easy way to get started designing a custom system prompt to power your own chatbot.