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.

Developing a personalised learning solution for precarious workers

At CENTURY, we develop artificial intelligence-based (AI) learning tools for teachers and students across the world. Our intelligent intervention platform, CENTURY, combines AI with the latest research in learning science and neuroscience to give each learner an education tailored to their needs, whilst empowering educators with data to help them to perform even better in their roles. CENTURY is primarily used by school and college learners, but with support from the CareerTech Challenge, we were able to test if our personalised learning platform (with a few specific modifications) could be effective for adult learners most vulnerable to changes in the labour market.

What we did

Learners were able to access CENTURY’s existing English and Maths courses, including Functional Skills Levels 1 and 2. Each learner had a personalised experience and their learning path continually adapted to present small bitesize learning modules called nuggets, tailored to both support but also stretch and challenge.

The CENTURY team added several new features/modifications to the platform, including:

  • A self sign-up and onboarding flow to allow adult learners to sign up and use CENTURY independently.
  • Automatic email notifications to motivate adult learners by providing an initial engagement prompt and re-engagement after periods of inactivity. These prompts were designed because adult learners do not have the same support as school learners so benefit from reminders to stay engaged.
  • An additional learner analytics dashboard to support NRS learners to study independently with easy to use usage and learning score data. We hoped this would motivate learners to study more as they could identify areas to focus their learning on or ensure they were meeting their own usage targets.
  • A completion tracker widget and downloadable certificate (both on the platform and emailed) to reward NRS learners on the completion of all nuggets (micro-lessons) within a course.
  • Badges awarded to NRS learners when they complete a certain amount of nuggets and a weekly streak tracking widget (complete five nuggets a week streak). Both badges and streak features were hoped to motivate learners by rewarding consistent study and incentivising further study.
New Platform Feature - New Learner Analytics

New Platform Feature - New Learner Analytics

New Platform Feature - My Streak feature

New Platform Feature - My Streak feature

CareerTech Platform Feature - Badges

New Platform Feature - Badges

Our findings

Learners on the CareerTech Challenge demonstrated a high level of engagement, with 806 learners completing over 6,800 hours of learning. CareerTech learners also completed more micro-lessons per login and viewed their analytics dashboard more frequently than other learners.

The new learner analytics features created as part of the project were successful in facilitating higher engagement with learning data and the completion of more micro-lessons. We also found that learners tended to study at various times of the day, so require a platform that offers flexible access, like CENTURY.

Learners developed their English and Maths skills, showing improvement in their assessment scores when repeating a micro-lesson, even when asked different questions. In combination with measuring their improved scores, we surveyed learners, who overwhelmingly agreed that CENTURY’s learning content was appropriate and accessible.

The majority of our learners came through partnerships with Further Education (FE) colleges and Adult Education providers, and these learners were also the most likely to engage effectively with the platform rather than learners recruited directly.

This project has highlighted the potential for platforms that empower users to take more agency of their learning, like CENTURY, to help learners who require a rapid and flexible way to upskill, especially those who may have significant gaps in their knowledge.

Future plans

We look forward to helping more learners fulfil their potential in the future, and we will use our findings from the CareerTech Challenge to more effectively support adult learners.

Come and connect with us on one of the platforms below.

Website: www.century.tech/careertech

Twitter: @ThisIsCentury

LinkedIn: CENTURY Tech

Instagram: @centurytechlearning

You can watch the Century CareerTech Challenge pitch video below


Daniella Marcus

Strategic Operations Executive, Century Tech