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In English schoolrooms and the Science block at Eton, an exciting new technology is being trialled. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to tailor courses to the learning habits and preferences of individuals, recommending which modules to study next or when to revise particular skills.

CenturyTech, founded in 2013, describes its purpose as ‘identifying gaps in learning, addressing misconceptions, and supporting teacher interventions’. Not only does it optimise time spent learning and revising, it provides detailed feedback to teachers on individual pupil performance. Teachers can track the total time spent on a task, and how understanding has improved. This helps to identify who is rushing and getting things wrong, taking their time, breezing through a topic test or spending a long time on a task and struggling. The technology also offers a range of pathways to learn the same content, from detailed videos to slideshows and diagrams, especially useful in Biology where a number of Eton teachers are currently trialling the software.

Identifying gaps in learning, addressing misconceptions, and supporting teacher interventions

CenturyTech

CenturyTech is being employed in the Science department to check pupils’ understanding of a new topic and to offer another way of learning for those with ‘zoom fatigue’ or who challenge themselves by learning visually.

Pupil Tom Barry uses the AI tool in his Year 11 Biology lessons. He says the technology is ‘really useful for revising topics that you only need a little bit of brushing up on, because it takes you through topics quickly, testing as you go’. Tom also likes the individual modules, describing them as ‘helpful and clear, with questions that require a good deal of thought’.

Mr Noakes, Director of Teaching and Learning, is also using CenturyTech in his Year 9 English lessons. He says ‘the software is able to gather more data on students’ learning abilities than a teacher can collect in a whole year of teaching a class, feeding back a detailed picture’. It is currently used it to teach grammar and punctuation, and Mr Noakes agrees that whilst ‘it can’t do everything teachers can’, AI technology ‘can do specific tasks much faster and much better than any teacher’.

Jed Mgbokwere, a Year 9 pupil, told the Press Office ‘we often use CenturyTech when we’re going over what happened in a book. It checks what we understand individually and it’s very helpful’.

Mr Noakes is optimistic about the future of AI in the classroom and hopes that ‘in the future we shall be able to blend what the human mind does best – creativity, emotionally-informed insight, global intelligence, appreciation of beauty, humour and metaphor – with what the astonishing power of AI can do so much better than the human mind.’

In the future we shall be able to blend what the human mind does best – creativity, emotionally-informed insight, global intelligence, appreciation of beauty, humour and metaphor – with what the astonishing power of AI can do so much better than the human mind

Jonnie Noakes, Director of Teaching and Learning, Eton College