Monthly Newsletter

The national centre for AI in tertiary education  – January Newsletter 

Update’s on the centre’s work 

Chatbot Pilot. The national centre has now kicked off its chatbot pilot, and we are delighted to be working with Blackpool and the Fylde, Sandwell and Yeovil Colleges as part of this project. The launch of the pilot got some press attention, which we are pleased to share with you: 

For the first part of the pilot, the centre and the colleges will be working together to develop question and answer sets (which are essential for ensuring the chatbot can respond to student queries), and to make it so that students can access the chatbot via various college platforms. 

Deep Dives. We are currently running five Deep Dive studies with colleges and universities. These studies have three main aims: to identify and understand challenges faced by education organisations, to propose where AI could be used to help solve these challenges, and to share best practice in implementing AI software.   

So far the Deep Dives have highlighted several use cases and areas for development for AI technology.  Currently the main use cases identified include: AI-supported assessment, and feedback and learner analytics. The deep dives will continue to run for the next 3-6 months. We are still looking for candidates for the next round of deep dives so if you would be interested or keen to learn more please email 

Thought Leadership. The centre has released the third article in its AI in Education: Here and Now series (How Petroc College is harnessing artificial intelligence – National centre for AI ( This article will appeal to Further Education professionals who are interested in the uses of AI for adaptive learning and for targeting interventions; and it will also be of interest to anyone who wants to learn more about the cultural and leadership dimensions of innovation in education. 

Community Group. We have set up a Teams Forum, where AI Community members can share experiences and expertise, and work together towards common goals. You can sign up to the Forum via this link (National centre for AI in tertiary education community | Jisc), and you can also use this link to sign up to the AI Community mailing list.  

Expanding the team. We are also pleased to announce that Tim Finch has joined our team as the AI Technologist. Tim’s role is to provide hands-on support to help members pilot or run experiments with AI solutions, evaluate AI technology from a technical perspective and to contribute to the development of AI prototypes and experiments. 

Events. Tom Moule, the centre’s Product Lead, spoke this month at EDUBOTs event, Best Practice of Chatbots in Higher Education. 


Upcoming events  

On 22nd February (3.30-5.00pm), we will be hosting a webinar: An Introduction to Artificial Intelligence. Please do come along if you would like to learn about this technology and what it can offer the education sector. National Centre for AI: an introduction to artificial intelligence | Jisc 


Interesting news pieces 

This article in The Guardian considers the possibility that, because of AI, we may be moving into a post-theory chapter of scientific enquiry. Whereas the traditional scientific model centres around forming and testing hypotheses in order to develop theories which can be used to predict as-of-yet unknown outcomes; with AI, it is possible that the hypothesis step (the middleman, so to speak) can be skipped. This, as the article discusses, is because AI systems can churn through large amounts of data to make predictions, without generating comprehensible theories in the process. 


Useful reports 

The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation has publsihed a report that explores how AI is being used/could be used in education; and looks at the benefits, risks, challenges and barriers to AI adoption.  

Ipsos Mori have conducted a survey for the World Economic Forum, which looks at global attitudes towards artificial intelligence. 

By Tom Moule

Product Lead at The National Centre for AI in Tertiary Education

2 replies on “The national centre for AI in tertiary education  – January Newsletter ”

Hi Tom,
We are just coming to the end of a Ufi project, developing a library chatbot. We are using Google’s Dialogflow platform. We would be happy to share any question sets you may need in relation to libraries, if that is part of your focus. As well as transactional enquires such opening times, borrowing and bookings, we are attempting to connect our chatbot to information sources such as the catalogue and video content. I am happy to demonstrate our chatbot to you if you need further information.

Thanks very much, Mark. This sounds really exciting. I will email you directly to continue this conversation.

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