Distance Learning

Students Continue Learning Through Coronavirus School Closures with AI-Based Tech

With schools in Asia shuttered in response to the coronavirus outbreak, a UK company has offered its education technology software free to affected students so they can continue taking classes in digital form. According to London-based Century-Tech, more than two dozen schools have already taken advantage of the offer.

Century's program is an online learning platform that the company said uses artificial intelligence to create learning pathways tailored and adapted for each student. Students can use the online program to continue lessons in English language arts, math and science. The program tracks every "click, score and interaction" and feeds that into AI algorithms that assess how each individual learns and plots the most effective route through learning material. Differentiated lessons are provided based on a student's focus, difficulty levels and pace of learning. Teachers can intervene with their own lessons and track student progress through a dashboard.

The company was founded by Priya Lakhani, who also co-founded the Institute for Ethical Artificial Intelligence in Education, based at the University of Buckingham. Century's software also been used in Lebanon to augment the education delivered to refugee students from Syria.

The initiative launched in Asia began by focusing on reaching 201 schools in Hong Kong and others in China using the British curriculum. However, the company said that it would provide free logins to any British curriculum or English-speaking schools in Hong Kong and China.

"The closure of schools presents a wealth of challenges for teachers and students. At international schools, like here at Kellett School, we have to find ways of continuing to prepare our students for the upcoming British public examinations," said Hong Kong school principal Mark Steed said in a statement. "We are most grateful to Century for making their AI learning platform available to our students free of charge during this testing time. This will give our teachers the tools they need to help our students to continue to progress throughout the disruption."

"I am incredibly pleased that Century will support our students with their learning," added Oliver Wells, headteacher of Rong Qiao Sedbergh School in Fuzhou, China. "During the next three weeks of isolation at home due to the virus in China they will make tremendous progress and also provide teachers with diagnostic data on the areas where they still need human support."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.