Nadya Thorman is the Chief Operations Officer at CENTURY and previously taught with Teach First for three years. Here she explains how technology can be used to benefit teachers.
When I started my Teach First journey in 2010, I, like many participants, had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. I had applied to Teach First after being shocked by the appalling social mobility statistics I had come across in my university studies. Teach First offered an opportunity to address the issue; I could make a real difference to the lives of young people, and I could do it immediately.
Within a few weeks of the school term, that starry-eyed, naïve, young graduate was exhausted and dispirited; I was beginning to doubt whether I could convince Abdul to bring a pen to class, let alone transform the educational opportunities of the students I taught.
Teaching was, and still remains, the most difficult thing I have ever done. Don’t get me wrong — I loved teaching; I loved the students who made me laugh every day, and I loved the colleagues who worked tirelessly to improve the life chances of others. I was even pretty good at it, at least so others told me. But it was hard, and it didn’t feel sustainable, so, after three years and much soul-searching, I made the decision to leave the profession.
Unfortunately, I was not alone in finding teaching a challenge: in a recent survey of teachers, 82% of respondents reported that their workload was unmanageable. I have returned again and again to this dilemma: if good teaching is beneficial to society (and I think we all agree that it is), then how can we make it a more sustainable career? So when I was asked if I would join education technology startup CENTURY Tech, which aims to improve learning outcomes while reducing teacher workload, I jumped at the opportunity.
Teachers know how to make learning happen: we know that students benefit from immediate and constructive feedback; that differentiated materials enable students, who learn in different ways and at different speeds, to make similar progress; that accurate data can be used to identify key strengths or weaknesses more quickly; that for some students, a ‘fixed’ mindset holds them back, and that more than teaching them new skills, we need them to understand that they have the ability to grow their intellect. We also know that doing all these things for all our students is a monumental task. Our intention at CENTURY is to make this task easier.
CENTURY’s learning platform provides students with a personalised learner path at the same time as arming teachers with learner data, so that they are the very best educators they can be. The platform uses artificial intelligence technology, cognitive neuroscience and big data insights to begin to understand how students learn best by analysing students’ behaviour on the platform, e.g. time active, accuracy of answers, media studied, response time, etc. According to the DfE, data management and marking are the biggest drivers of ‘unnecessary and unproductive tasks’ in a teacher’s day. So CENTURY aims to reduce teachers’ workload by automating the marking of students’ work and presenting learners’ data in an easy-to-use dashboard. Teachers are provided with a real-time view of how their students are progressing so that they can intervene as and when necessary.
We have big dreams for the future of education and are busy working with innovative schools and colleges in order to achieve them. We are always looking to collaborate with educators who are excited about the possibilities that technology can bring to education. If you fit the bill, or are interested in finding out more, please email email@example.com.
We can’t wait to work together to make a difference to the world of education.