Bolton College’s innovative use of chatbot technology was seen by the Beacon assessors as “potentially a game changer for the whole of the FE sector”.
Ada is described as the college’s answer to Amazon’s Alexa: a digital assistant providing personalised and contextualised one-to-one support for every student on the campus.
Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), Ada functions as a virtual support teacher on behalf of teachers and support teams across the campus. The service has so far responded successfully to more than 70,000 questions from learners. It has allowed them to garner information, advice and guidance to support their studies, including outside of office hours.
Members of Bolton College’s information learning technology team championed the use of this technology after a growing volume of data led them to conclude that a service that enabled students to find information in a more intuitive and accessible manner was essential.
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The AI platform has been taught to support everything from the delivery of GCSE maths and hairdressing courses to the college’s employability curriculum. The team behind the programme said these functions will continue to expand.
Bolton College’s chatbot service is already available to all learners at the college. This year, Bolton will launch iOS and Android apps for the service.
The college is also publishing an Amazon Alexa app which will enable learners to access college services via their smart speakers.
The assessors said that “the long-term benefits for the quality of the learner experience and potential organisational efficiencies were highly impressive”.