Basingstoke College of Technology Learning Technologist Charlie James outlines how further education is benefitting from the artificial intelligence revolution.

Choosing your next holiday or finding new shows or artists has never been easier, thanks to artificial intelligence. Whilst most industries have welcomed the use of machine intelligence across the world, education is lagging behind. Traditional routes like pen and paper and the use of whiteboards are still preferred to digital platforms despite these being developed with the new needs, styles and preferences of teaching and learning.

However, this is changing. More and more institutions are choosing a digital approach, adopting technological solutions that improve results, save time within teacher workload and give more time back for the one thing teachers enjoy: teaching. The government’s edtech strategy is ambitious, but will hopefully lead to a more accessible approach to learning, allowing educational technology to do what it does best: enhancing teaching and learning.

Basingstoke College of Technology (BCoT) has been nationally recognised for our use of technology leading us to win the TES Award for ‘Outstanding use of technology for improving teaching, learning and assessment’ allowing us to continue to develop, create and embed content in sessions and be an available resource for teachers and students who are adapting to the digital classroom.

We discovered a new way to save time and workload for our teachers – AI

Whilst we have been using artificial intelligence (AI) since 2016 – either through creating self-marking quizzes for departments across the curriculum or creating our own systems to grade work easier – we discovered a new way to save time and workload for our teachers: using artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, designed by CENTURY Tech, who work with leading institutions across the world.

CENTURY’s AI creates an individual path for each learner, personalising their learning at every step, and adapts to their strengths, weaknesses, behaviours and habits, all accessible to teachers and parents. Once a student logs into their CENTURY dashboard, they are greeted with their learner path allowing them to revise topics the AI has picked up as a weakness, or their teacher has set as a stretch and challenge activity, and provides the student with learning materials (in the form of a video or presentation) which the student can use to improve their knowledge in the topic. This data is all fed back to their teacher, including when the student logs on, how long they spend on each question and what they have got correct and incorrect.

Students are taking their learning into their own hands

We first implemented CENTURY in September 2018, and the results have been transformative for our students resitting their English and Maths – student pass rates have increased by 9% in English GCSE and by 21% in Maths GCSE, from only two and a half months of use, compared to the previous year. With over a quarter of a million questions answered so far, not only is this in the classroom, but our data shows students are taking their learning into their own hands, revising outside of college time, during half terms and over the weekend. CENTURY automates the marking and planning process, allowing hours of time to be saved and for our teachers to focus on intervening, motivating and inspiring.

We need to take control over our teaching and learning, and including artificial intelligence across the board can aid with this. There are more students coming through the doors every single year who need to be taught English and Maths in the space of eight months and, as students increase, our support systems need to as well. Artificial intelligence can support and personalise learning to fit all styles, needs, and preferences to each student. As someone who has had to sit through three years of additional Maths GCSE and through five different exams, of varying tiers, I strongly believe personalised learning supported by artificial intelligence would have increased my chances massively of passing my exam in Year 11, rather than three years later. I was very lucky in my last year to be put into a smaller maths group, where my teacher was able to structure the lessons to each of us individually, and allow me to work on my weaknesses rather than class teaching the same scheme of work that I already knew. Our English and Maths teachers are great, but CENTURY makes them greater.

In June, I am speaking at the AoC/Jisc Technology Summit – Inspiring and driving technological innovation in the FE sector where I will share more about how tech and AI can help your institution. The event is the perfect opportunity for leaders in Further Education to learn more about whether their current tech strategy is as good as it can be, learn from peers and explore the latest, cutting-edge trends in edtech. I hope to see you there.

To find out more about what we do, visit www.bcotdigital.com or contact me on Twitter.

This blog originally appeared on the Association of Colleges website.