From education to employment

University College Birmingham join AI planning tech pilot

Following a successful application to Jisc, the UK digital, data and technology agency focused on tertiary education, research and innovation, 50 higher education teaching staff at University College Birmingham will be using the software TeacherMatic to help plan their classroom resources in a pilot project starting this month.

The software, which acts as a personal assistant for teachers, can generate planning materials, conversation topics, questionnaires, and has been designed by a start-up team of tech engineers.

The project will see a select group of lecturers at the participating Universities, using TeacherMatic in their planning, and at the end of the six-month project, sharing their experience with Jisc who will collate their findings.

Tsai Lovett, Deputy Dean, Teaching Learning and Digital at University College Birmingham’s Business School is working with staff on the project:

“We see the immense possibilities of using AI in a controlled and complementary way to support a wide array of purposes in the coming years, and so we were delighted to take part in this trial of TeacherMatic supported by Jisc.

“Because of the broad curriculums on offer here, the software will be used by teaching professionals across the institution and, as a consequence, deliver a wide array of teaching styles and approaches. Though there is often a tendency to be apprehensive of new technology, we’re determined to adopt new technologies and maximise the new possibilities of AI, while making sure that the ethics of teaching are upheld. After all, this is about enabling teaching professionals to have as much quality contact time with students as possible, liberated from tasks which have traditionally been labour intensive.”

With the advent of new AI technology in all aspects of public life, the need to experiment with its possibilities in a controlled environment has never been greater.

“As AI continues to reshape education and the workplace, adapting to its rapid evolution is crucial in preparing students for a digital future,” says Paddy Shepperd, senior AI specialist at Jisc. “This project with TeacherMatic will enable staff to find out more about the positive impacts of using AI.”

Staff begin their training on the platform over the coming weeks, and the feedback both from staff and students alike will be shared with Jisc to inform how other education professionals across the UK could benefit from engaging with AI tools.

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