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Government backed classroom AI trial reaches completion

NewsSecondary Education
By Heather McLean | 22 March 2017
Size0.00 KB
Create DateMarch 22, 2017
Last UpdatedMarch 20, 2017

A Government backed trial to realise the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) in the classroom has reached completion.

Education technology firm Digital Assess received a £500,000 grant from the UK Government’s technology board, Innovate UK, to develop a product that utilised AI in the classroom.

The web application, FormativeAssess, was successfully piloted in ten schools across the UK, using machine learning to provide live feedback to technology students in the form of on-screen avatars.

Important skills such as problem solving, ideation, and research gathering require frequent access to teachers, but logistically there is a lack of time and resources available for these one-on-one conversations. FormativeAssess aims to scale good teaching practice by simulating the role of an expert mentor in project based working situations, opening up the creative process.

Using machine learning, it interacts with learners and asks relevant questions, developing the knowledge of both the AI and the learner and adapting the questions based on responses given. By prompting learners to answer questions about their work and express their ideas, the system not only encourages them to think more deeply, but also to behave more speculatively and make better progress before they need individual support from their teachers.

The technology uses data mining methods in a similar way to social networks that use intelligent advertising to scan user preferences.

The analysis of responses provokes intervention, where needed, to direct the learner to a better end result. For example, during the initial design phase in a CDT class, learners may be prompted to remember what audience they are designing for, or to consider the types of materials they want to use.

Project co-ordinator Tony Wheeler explained: “Our aim is to harness the power of AI to support learners, especially in open-ended project work, and provide the basis for capturing and nurturing the creative process, rather than everyone simply ticking boxes. Following the successful pilot of FormativeAssess, we are planning to bring this technology opportunity to more learners across the UK.”


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