New start with latest Artificial Intelligence technology

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Pioneering an Artificial Intelligence (AI) teaching tool has empowered The Bedford College Group to take a huge leap forward in advancing online study for people of all ages.

The lockdown-led demand for laptop learning, highlighted the value of the Century computerised system, which supports classroom sessions in schools and colleges. Happily, Bedford College had been involved in a Century pilot pre-Covid in 2018/19, and its feedback had helped to shape the fast-moving AI product.

Now the latest Century system will be available to all students and staff from the reopening of the college in September 2020. It will be used by 16-19 year olds, apprentices and adult learners.

The South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP), which covers Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire, allocated £440,000 for the Artificial Intelligence maths and English learning platform.

This grant will fund the learning platform which has been designed to improve the achievement rate of learners undertaking maths and English qualifications, improve digital skills and improve teacher efficiency and wellbeing.  

Ian Pryce CBE, Principal and CEO of The Bedford College Group, said: “Our AI maths and English learning software will secure our prime position as the college which promotes cutting edge technology education for the region.

This learning platform will support our provision in maths and English for students, and make it possible for them to progress in their education and careers.

Far-sighted staff member Nina Sharp spotted the potential of Century when attending a seminar several years ago. When the college was invited to pilot a project with Century in 2018/19 she saw the huge benefits that were possible, as now as Director of Progression Pathways, Nina is delighted to champion this teaching technology.

If a student is struggling, it adds new content to help them, if a student is clearly finding the sessions too easy, it stretches and challenges them. The teacher can see all of this on a dashboard and intervene accordingly.

It embeds long-term memory learning too by revisiting areas which a student may have struggled with, and checking if they kept their grasp of that skill. More training prompts are given to remind them. So it helps them to maintain the knowledge they have learned.

These learning elements are called nuggets, and by gaining them students gain a sense of achievement - a small piece at a time. It helps with their self esteem and confidence.

The Century package offers 1,000s of high quality resources which can be used as home work by the student or as part of what would otherwise be classroom learning.

Progression path of Nina

Director of Progression Pathways Nina Sharp is a great example of how Bedford College encourages the development of its students and staff. Nina was a student at Bedford, winning an Outstanding Student award, presented by Principal Ian Pryce.

She worked for a private training provider, then joined the college as a staff member. Promoted to Head of English and maths later, she is now a Director helping to shape the future vision and resources needed to ensure The Bedford College Group remains an educational leader in the region in these challenging times.

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