Michael Webb, Director of technology and analytics, Jisc

As @Jisc launches its National Centre for Artificial Intelligence in Tertiary Education, Michael Webb, shares some tools to explore #AI, and the art of the possible:

Overestimations and underestimations 

My colleagues at Jisc and I started working on ExploreAI when we noticed both an overestimation and an underestimation of the scope of AI in tertiarty education; people were either proposing AI do something that, in reality, isn’t likely to be feasible any time soon, or were dismissing AI as a solution when, in fact, it was perfectly possible. The site offers hands-on experience to help with this understanding.   

How ExploreAI works 

exploreaiMany of the demos on the site are based on services from providers, such as Microsoft or Amazon, as part of their Cloud-based web services. With a few exceptions, these are services that can be used today by any developer, without needing specialist data science expertise. 

We’ve grouped the demos into three areas:

  1. Vision
  2. Language, and 
  3. Knowledge

Each demo is structured with instructions, data, and sections with more information, which provide some technical background, and ‘Things to consider’, which might be legal or ethical issues, or technical limitations. 

Visitors can either select sample content or provide their own, clicking the action button to send the content to one or more solution providers, and then seeing the results. Sending it to multiple service providers shows how organisations analyse data differently – for example, with sentiment analysis it might be on a sentence basis, on the whole text, or by looking for key phrases. 

Getting started 

Here are some tips to help those that are new to AI start using the site: 

  • Sentiment analysis identifies whether the sentiment behind text is positive, negative or neutral. It works by selecting sample text or pasting text in – making sure it’s about a paragraph long so the tool has enough information to work with. Do the results look right? Are there any limitations? Could the results be used as part of an educational process, for example in part of a service to aggregate or highlight feedback to students? 
  • Face detection tools locate faces in images and create information about those faces. This is an interesting example for anyone interested in exploring AI and vision, or considering ethical issues. Try the example with both the demo content and a picture of yourself to see the differences between face recognition and face detection. The service has a guess at your age. Is it accurate? What legal and ethical issues does that raise? 
  • Question generation uses AI to create question and answer sets from passages of text. This is based directly on work by researchers, rather than using a Cloud service. It’s an example of AI generating, or supporting the generation of, educational content. What is the value in this? For example, if students use it to test their understanding of something they had read, or tutors use it to generate formative assessment questions. How good are the questions? How good are the answers? If they aren’t good, does that matter? 

Michael Webb, Director of technology and analytics, Jisc

ExploreAI hosts practical demos to illustrate the kinds of things that are possible with Artificial Intelligence (AI) today. Examples from Cloud suppliers, such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and IBM Watson, sit alongside illustrations of particular concepts shared by the education and technology not-for-profit, Jisc. Please send questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page