AI company aiming to solve teacher shortage crisis

AI company aiming to solve teacher shortage crisis
AI company aiming to solve teacher shortage crisis

We show you our most important and recent visitors news details AI company aiming to solve teacher shortage crisis in the following article

Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - BRUSSELS — An artificial intelligence (AI) company called 21st Century Digital Teaching (21C) is taking some big steps to solve the chronic teacher shortage in the UK and across Europe by revolutionizing the way students learn maths and other key subjects.

To do this, 21C created a digital teaching app and learning platform for schools that, it says, greatly reduces the number of teachers needed by digitizing them and converting them into avatars on the app, enabling lessons to go ahead when there's a shortage.

The founders said it also offers a new way of doing homework as it's more interactive and enables teachers to track student progress more easily through the platform's smart analytics tools.

It comes as schools across the continent have struggled to fill positions. According to the 2024 Tes Schools Wellbeing report, 74% of school staff surveyed revealed that they were thinking of quitting education entirely over the last year.

The survey also found that 61% of UK teachers don’t feel that their workload is manageable.

Meanwhile, 47% of school staff highlighted that they don't have the necessary facilities and resources to do their job.

Alan Judd, chairman and chief executive of the company, said in an interview with Euronews: "There's a shortage of teachers, real teachers. There's a shortage because the school population is expanding very fast and the experienced maths teachers are declining because people are retiring.

"They're moving, they're going to different places. So to have one-to-one teaching, that's really behind 21st Century."

21C's AI platform converts lessons obtained from real maths teachers into short and snappy bite-sized formats that are four to five minutes each which, the founders say, can be more efficiently retained by students with short attention spans.

Martin Hoszowski, chief operating officer of the company, told Euronews: "What's important is obviously that the attention span of teenagers is really shortening. So we want to have our lessons be as short as possible. So instead of them being 20, 40 minutes long, we have concentrated them into four to five minute formats, just to make sure that this is something that resonates with teenagers.

"And that was quite a challenge to really compress those lessons into a short format that teenagers can understand and they will not get bored," he added.

It also makes sure that students' individual progress is monitored, and provides appropriately personalized feedback to each learner.

As such, he said, the platform can be easily integrated into existing teachers' learning plans, helping them come up with more efficient lessons, as well as reducing marking and feedback time. Teachers can also gain better possible insights into student performances, which can then help them decide how to best help each student on their journey.

Hoszowski further explained that 21C specializes in mimicking one-on-one tutoring, which can go a long way in helping students who are struggling, by providing a more cost-effective and more engaging solution than in-person private tutoring.

"What's important is obviously that the attention span of teenagers is really shortening. So we want to have our lessons be as short as possible.

He noted that this can also help economically disadvantaged students especially, who may not always be able to afford an in-person tutoring option.

The platform's technology has already been developed and is currently being tested by major schools across the UK.

Coming to some of the challenges faced by the company and many other UK and European start-ups, Judd said pre-revenue finance continues to be the biggest hurdle.

"We have the skill set, we have the people, we know the marketplace. And I think I see lots of institutions and it's the same question every time. How many licences have you sold? People want proof of concept. But there's also a value proposition that we have finished the technology at a price that everybody can afford - the teachers, the venture capitalists, everybody.

"But you still just have to push them a little bit. Sometimes you get success - most of our funding has come from high-net worth investors who have got an open mind, they make decisions."

Other challenges that 21st Century Digital Teaching had to overcome included developing their own chatbots and translators, in order to best translate the content gained from teachers. The teaching avatars also had to be developed in the most engaging and authentic way, such as getting the right tone and language, which would help them best connect with students.

With the challenging European investment and regulatory landscape at the moment, several UK and European companies, whether they are start-ups or more established firms, are looking to move to the US.

Although this is mainly due to a deeper capital and liquidity pool, as well as a wider range of investors and opportunities, this trend may also have something to do with differing attitudes to risk across the pond.

Regarding this, Judd said the company is planning to enter the US market too, as venture capitalists there are very open to pre-revenue ventures.

"We intend to go into the US market, probably in 2025. We'll take about six to nine months to prepare the curriculum based upon the platform we have, which is versatile and can actually accommodate other languages and other systems."

Although 21st Century Digital Teaching is currently being tested in UK schools and markets, the company has plans to roll out across European markets as well, such as in Spain, Germany and Belgium.

This could be further helped by their content being easily translatable due to the use of avatars, for example, using Spanish-speaking teacher avatars for the Spanish market. — Euronews

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