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Adult Learning Technology Innovation Fund

Digital Skills
Strategy , Research, Commentary, Reports
Skills for Life Network

The Government is investing £5 million to encourage technology companies to develop cutting-edge solutions, utilising AI and automation, to improve the quality of online learning for adults.

The Adult Learning Technology Innovation Fund, which will be launched in partnership with innovation foundation Nesta, will provide funding and expertise to incentivise tech firms to harness new technologies to develop bespoke, flexible, inclusive, and engaging online training opportunities to support more people into skilled employment. 

The new fund builds on the work already underway through the Government’s Education Technology Strategy, published in April, which includes £10 million investment to support innovation and raise the bar in schools, colleges and universities across England.

A new research report published on the 10th of June highlights there are significant benefits to online learning and Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIEd) and backs the case for the new innovation fund to encourage developers to innovate and test new AI driven solutions for adult online learning. 

The research identified a range of ways that AIEd can be used to improve the quality of learning:

‘Intelligent tutoring systems were found to be effective in raising attainment. Examples of AIEd in the school sector have shown that it can provide benefits in terms of creating more personalised learning and automating some learner monitoring and assessment tasks to free up tutor time. It is notable however that the main benefits of AIEd appear to be when it is used as a teaching aid rather than to replace tutors’. 

A key recommendation in the report states:

‘The DfE should fund the development of ‘test bed’ AIEd products to be used by the FE sector. These products will help raise provider awareness of the value and potential benefits of AIEd, while also addressing negative perceptions of the technology. This could initially be self-study programmes that can be used as teaching aids in the delivery of some key T level subjects.’

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