About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Learners are provided with a personalised path containing micro-lessons known as ‘nuggets’, which contain learning materials and assessment questions. The recommended path continuously adapts for each learner based on their learning experience, and is designed to stretch, challenge and support memory retention.

Through funding from the CareerTech Challenge, a number of additional innovative features were added to the platform to address the particular needs of eligible learners, including:

  • A self-sign-up mechanism for individual learners to access the platform without provider referral.
  • Automatic email notifications to motivate learners by providing engagement and re-engagement prompts.
  • An additional learner analytics dashboard with usage and learning score data.
  • A completion tracker widget and downloadable certificate on course completion.
  • Badges awarded to learners when they complete a certain amount of nuggets and a weekly streak tracking widget.

Evaluation findings and lessons learned

On average, eligible learners completed more of the course than the average for non-eligible learners. Learners were found to have developed their English and maths skills and had substantially improved performance scores. Members of the eligible cohort were found to learn throughout the day, indicating the need for a platform with flexible access.

Century Tech found the evaluation to be a rewarding process. It provided an opportunity to examine the platform and their user data in much more detail than is normally possible, and to conduct new types of research such as user testing. Overall, CENTURY were not surprised by most of the results, which have reinforced their existing assumptions and hypotheses.

'I think we all found the process to be rewarding on a personal level … you don’t often get the chance to stop and take stock of things in that level of detail and set aside time to do that level of analysis.'

CENTURY project lead

CENTURY considers evaluation and evidence to be highly important when working with partners or stakeholders in the education sector. Assessing the impact of interventions or approaches can be difficult given the complex mix of factors involved, and this evaluation has given them the opportunity to identify how specific features of their platform can achieve impacts. They intend to continue using research techniques such as user testing in their future work. The in-depth cohort analysis was considered particularly valuable in providing insights for different types and groups of users, and CENTURY are intending to continue to do this type of analysis going forwards.

An illustration of a nurse with her hands on the shoulders of two children

Amy's learner journey

Amy is in her 30s with two young children. She works as a part-time waitress in a café but would like to retrain as a nurse. Amy struggled at school and is currently studying for a Level 2 Functional Skills qualification in maths at her local further education college. Through an existing partnership, CENTURY approached the college to recruit learners for their CareerTech Challenge project. Amy’s tutor referred her to the tool, suggesting that it might help her to develop her maths skills. Amy had previously participated in digital learning, and was confident in accessing CENTURY.

Amy used CENTURY for a total of 17 hours over two months, completing 50 learning nuggets. Although she successfully completed most of the nuggets on her first attempt, she found several to be particularly difficult. Amy was able to repeat these nuggets, and did so until she was sure she had understood the material.

Amy liked being able to choose when she could access the tool, enabling her to fit learning around her work, childcare and other studies. She also enjoyed using the dashboard view, which enabled her to reflect on the progress of her learning

CITIZEN: Harnessing data for evaluation

Download the full evaluation case study

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