Virtual teacher
AI company 21st Century Digital Teaching (21C) is taking big steps to solve the teacher shortage in the UK and across Europe. Pexels

In a bid to address teacher shortages and boost student engagement, 21st Century Digital Teaching (21C) has developed avatar teachers to create innovative math content for schools.

Following Bill Gates' 2023 prediction about the potential of AI chatbots like ChatGPT to replace human teachers, 21st Century Digital Teaching (21C), an artificial intelligence company, is taking a step in that direction.

In a bid to tackle the persistent teacher shortages plaguing Europe and the UK, 21C is pioneering a radical overhaul of how students learn math and other core subjects.

The AI company created a digital teaching app and learning platform for schools. This platform supplements teachers by offering AI-powered math lessons delivered by avatar instructors, ensuring continuity of education even when real teachers are unavailable.

The founders shed light on additional benefits. The platform provides a more interactive approach to homework, while smart analytics tools empower teachers to track student progress efficiently.

Ways AI Can Play A Role In Addressing Teacher Shortages

This initiative comes amid a critical juncture in European education. According to the 2024 Tes Schools Wellbeing report, a staggering 74 percent of school staff surveyed considered leaving the profession entirely within the last year.

The report also found that percent of UK teachers feel their workload is unmanageable, and 47 percent of all school staff lack the necessary facilities and resources to do their jobs effectively.

"There's a shortage of teachers, real teachers. There's a shortage because the school population is expanding very fast and the experienced maths teachers are declining because people are retiring," Alan Judd, chairman and chief executive of the company, said in an interview with Euronews.

"They're moving, they're going to different places. So to have one-to-one teaching, that's really behind 21st Century," Judd added. Building on the promise of AI in education, UNESCO noted last year that AI has the potential to improve learning experiences significantly.

How Tech Can Help Improve Engagement

To cater to shorter attention spans, 21C's AI platform transforms lessons from real math teachers into concise, engaging segments lasting four to five minutes. This format, according to the founders, improves student knowledge retention.

Martin Hoszowski, chief operating officer of 21C, told Euronews: "What's important is obviously that the attention span of teenagers is really shortening." So, the top executive said it is important to make lessons as short as possible.

Furthermore, they have condensed lessons into engaging, four-to-five minute segments to promote focused learning and cater to a variety of learning styles. "And that was quite a challenge to really compress those lessons into a short format that teenagers can understand and they will not get bored," Hoszowski said.

The platform continuously monitors student progress, enabling the delivery of personalized feedback tailored to each learner's needs. Hoszowski noted that the platform seamlessly integrates with existing curricula, allowing teachers to create more efficient lesson plans and significantly reduce marking and feedback time.

Additionally, the platform's insights into student performance empower teachers to personalise learning journeys for each student.

Highlighting another advantage, Hoszowski explained that 21C's platform emulates one-on-one tutoring, offering a more affordable and engaging alternative to traditional private tutoring, particularly beneficial for struggling students.

Hoszowski noted that this personalised approach is particularly beneficial for disadvantaged students who may lack access to traditional private tutoring. The platform's technology is already developed and is currently undergoing trials in major UK schools.