Ada goes live at Bolton College


Bolton College's ILT Team is pleased to announce that Ada, the College's digital assistant for students went live on the 6th of April. Ada has been taught to answer general questions and enquiries about Bolton College and she is able to answer specific questions relating to the student who is making the enquiry.

The service marks a significant milestone in the way students at Bolton College will come to engage with College services.

General Enquiries
Here is a sample of general enquiries that can be answered by Ada. In the following example, Ada responds to a query about maths revision.

In the following example, Ada responds to a question relating to the opening times of the College library.

In this example, Ada responds to a question from a student who is asking about the location of the College's exam office.

Specific Questions
Ada can also answer questions or enquiries that a student has about his or her studies. Ada has access to various College datasets and she uses this information to respond to specific questions that relate to the student asking the question.

In the following example Ada responds to a question from a student who is wanting to know the name of his or her Learning and Development Mentor / Tutor. This could be useful to students at the start of the academic year.

In this example, Ada can update the student about his or her overall attendance at the College. The ILT Team plans to supplement this information with graphs and charts from SiD, the College's learner journey management system.

Ada can answer various questions that pertain to a student's timetable. For example, a student can ask 'what lessons do I have today?', 'what have I got on today?', 'what lessons do I have on this morning / afternoon / evening?' or 'what lessons do I have tomorrow?'

In the following example a student gets a response regarding the schedule of classes for the next day.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment
One of the most interesting aspects of Ada is her ability to support teaching, learning and assessment. In the following example, Ada answers a maths question from a student.

You may ask "why doesn't the student just Google for the answer?" Bolton College decided to utilise Ada to support teaching, learning and assessment because it gave teachers the ability to formulate structured replies to subject specific enquiries from students. In addition, Ada can respond in a way that reflects the profile of the student. For instance, she can provide stretch and challenge resources to more able students and more supportive guided learning resources to students who have been identified as requiring additional support. This means that teachers across Bolton College can provide adaptive learning and assessment resources through Ada as well as Moodle, the College's virtual learning environment. Ada no longer behaves as a traditional oracle but as a true agent; an agent that utilises the student dataset to deliver personalised, differentiated and contextuallised responses to each student.

Students at Bolton College can also access Ada on interactive tutorials on Moodle. In the following example the Ada service is embedded in an online tutorial. A student can ask Ada a question relating to the topic and she will present relevant content back to the student.

Ada's Personality
We anticipated that students would want to know more about Ada so we asked colleagues in Bolton College's Learning Resource Centre to develop Ada's personality. We were surpised to learn that Ada had received a marriage proposal within one hour of the service going live!

What's next?
The College's ILT Team is being supported by colleagues to teach Ada more and more about the College and the services that support our students. We are also logging the questions that are being posed by students and these are being used to inform Ada's responses. In addition to the main Ada service, Bolton College is launching three distinct Ada services entitled Ada Maths, Ada English and Ada Employment which will support the delivery of the Maths, English and Employability curriculums across the College. Bolton College's Ada service will be made available to schools, colleges and universities soon.

If you wish to take learn more about Ada please email at Bolton College.