Implementing EdTech solutions when funding is limited

  • What is your advice on the implementation of EdTech solutions when funding is limited?

Identify solutions that scale well. Implement solutions that have a positive impact on the largest number of students and teachers. Identify solutions that are sustainable beyond the first academic year of use. Apply for external funding to support your EdTech solutions. 

  • How can a leader make sure that teachers and support teams embrace the technological change?

The adoption of new technologies within a campus setting centres on the wins for individual students, teachers, student support teams and campus administrators. Technology should be introduced to solve a specific problem or a general set of problems that are faced by individuals on the campus. Technology should be intuitive to use. If it isn’t, it compounds the problems that individuals face. Leaders need to acknowledge that the adoption of new technologies is not always immediate. There is always an adoption lag. This is caused by multiple factors; including, lack of information, training, familiarity, confidence or need to name a few.  

  • Your latest success is Ada, the online digital assistant of Bolton College. How is Ada helping the college?

Ada has been designed to answer a myriad of questions that students, teachers and support teams ask daily to support their studies or work. Ada offers immediacy. She can respond contextually to the individual who poses a question. This can be incredibly powerful when students ask Ada about their morning class schedule, the hand-in-date for their next assignment or how well they are doing with their studies. Ada is connected to multiple datasets around the campus so this helps the service to support and inform the decisions that everyone on the campus make.

  • What is the future of voice-activated bots?

Digital assistants will support every facet of campus life. They will support every point on the student life cycle. As they do, they will undertake tasks that require increasing levels of cognitive ability; such as writing student report cards, helping teachers to assess open-ended questions, helping teachers to identify early interventions for students at risk and so on and so forth.  

  • What can schools learn from your experience with Ada?

Chatbots are affordable. A small primary school can afford the running costs for these services. Invite pupils to teach your campus chatbot about life at the school. Start with the top 20 questions that are asked by everyone at the school. Start with a small use case and build from there.    

Aftab will be speaking at the Schools & Academies Show Birmingham on 13th November at 13:00 in the Technology & Educational Resources Theatre Case Study: Implementing Chatbots – Lessons from Bolton College

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