At CENTURY, we believe in the importance of pilots to support the successful implementation of edtech in schools. Arcadia is a British School in Dubai offering British education to students aged 3 to 18. We spoke to Ryan Kenny, Head of Science, about their recent successful pilot with CENTURY.
Why did you opt for a pilot with CENTURY?
Before this I was teaching at another school and I went through a trial with CENTURY there, so I was familiar with the process. Our maths and English departments each had their respective edtech platforms that they liked using, but there wasn’t really anything for science. We’re an Apple accredited school, so every child and teacher has access to a device. We’re well connected to technology, so having used it previously, I thought it would be perfect here.
The pilot works really well for CENTURY, as I find it very difficult to explain how much it does without sounding like I’m making it up. You tell your colleagues that it can do this, and that, and this, and you see them questioning if it actually can. With the pilot I was able to show them that it can actually do this, and that, and this, and they were straight on board.
A trial allows exploration too, as people gravitate towards different parts. I really like the nuggets and intervention, and in secondary we prefer to use CENTURY for homework or pre-learning. I showed it to primary colleagues and they were more interested in the individual data.
How did you run the pilot?
We used the Year 10 group as it’s quite a small group to get our message across, only about 25 students, and because it’s a GCSE year it would have the most impact. The best way to introduce them to the platform was just to let them have a go: I set the first diagnostic and then let them have a play. We also made a point of saying to them that they were the first group trying this, to make them feel involved in the trial. Science teachers were easy enough to get on board. Then I used students to demonstrate the platform to the other subject teachers.
We ran the pilot for a month. Some trials are offered for one or two weeks, but as schools want backed up information that’s not really enough time. Even across two weeks, you can gather some good information but it’s all on the same teaching topics, for example. It takes three or four weeks for students to do a lot of work on CENTURY, and for the AI to start properly recommending between topics. That was a good length.
Was the pilot essential in making the transition to a full subscription?
It was massive. Without the pilot, I may not have got it through. I presented to the SLT team at the end and the pilot had actually given me hard facts and data about our students, showing what the platform looked like in our school. Some edtech pilots will just send you data templates, but it’s meaningless if it’s not relevant to us. CENTURY gave us actual information about our students. I showed one primary SLT teacher CENTURY’s intervention graphs that said Student X needed targeted support. Instantly, as soon as I showed her that, she was sold, because she knew that child needed intervention and CENTURY validated that.
I asked my students to rate themselves out of 10 on the key topics for the exams, and CENTURY’s Teacher Dashboard rated the students almost identically. One of the teachers said that CENTURY is amazing because it is very accurate at saying what the students are like, but the best part is it’s reliable, because it's saying that in lots of different ways.
The continuity from the pilot to the full subscription was very smooth. Everything just carried on. There was no pause from a trial where we needed to swap everything over. The teachers still have all the information from the first ever nuggets they did too.
I’ve done a few edtech trials over the past several years, and this is the first one where I’ve been given full rein of the product. The CENTURY pilot is exactly what it is going to be like when you have a full subscription. It is exactly what it will be like for the students. Once my colleagues realised that we had free rein to try whatever we wanted on the platform during the pilot, it helped build their trust in it too. You go to other edtech products and ask for a trial account and maybe you get one or two things, so you can’t even see if it matches your curriculum.
What feedback did you receive?
Our biggest success criteria was whether the students actually enjoyed using it and would want to continue using it. Within a week the Year 10s loved it, because it was very concrete to tell them this was a tool to help them revise. The teachers instantly fell in love with it. Overall, the feedback we’ve received has been very positive. Some of the teachers have mentioned how helpful CENTURY’s team has been, and that if you email with a problem it will be fixed by the next day. It’s impressive how speedy and effective the responses are for a company that works with lots of different schools.
Would you recommend a CENTURY pilot?
100 percent I would recommend a pilot. I actually already have. But I would advise them to make sure they've got a plan and they know how they are going to roll it out. It’s also important to involve all their teachers in the process using it to get the most out of the pilot.
Learn more about piloting CENTURY at international schools here. Book a CENTURY pilot for your international school here.