How can artificial intelligence (AI) improve management information systems (MIS)?
I want it now!
In the tech-enhanced educational landscape, pupils, parents, educators, managers, governors and Ofsted expect instant answers to their questions.
With advancements in AI, chatbots allow users to pose questions in natural language and receive immediate responses. Such a chatbot can be incorporated into MIS, allowing staff to easily access information like student enrolment numbers and staff absences.
In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of AI chatbots in education, and their integration with MIS. We will also be looking at Bromcom’s role in driving forward this technology over the years and into the future.
Let’s start near the beginning of the journey.
Back to the future
Back in the day (if the day is in June 2000) the BBC reported that Bromcom Computers had launched a secure website called mychildatschool.com. The site allowed parents to access information on their children’s attendance and performance at school. The information was collected from teachers using Bromcom’s e-School product, which had been introduced in 1993. The e-School product used short-range radio to put information into the school’s administration computer. The website had password-protected logins, which could be set at different levels of confidentiality.
It was piloted at Holloway School, a comprehensive in north London. Schools hoped the website would help them combat truancy and work more closely with parents. Some parents welcomed the website as it allowed them to check their child’s grades and email their teachers with questions about their schoolwork. Teachers could also use the website to report good behaviour and performance.
Bromcom, then, has been a significant contributor to the UK education market, bringing contributions such as the first cloud-based parent portal in 2000, the first cloud MIS in 2010 and the first UK MIS to be powered by AI. These innovations have been followed by several awards, like the BETT Gold Award for Electronic Register in 1994, Queen’s Award in 2001 and, more recently the Magbuyte Award for Best Performing Company.
Bromcom’s Big 5 educational innovations
1. Developed the first multi-processor based multi-user DOS for school administration in 1989, which revolutionised the way schools handled data and administration tasks.
2. Introduced Wireless EARS (Electronic Attendance Registration System) in 1992, which allowed for seamless and accurate attendance tracking, replacing traditional paper-based methods.
3. Pioneered the first cloud-based product in the education market, the Parent Portal in 2000, which allowed parents to access their child’s attendance records, grades, and other school-related information from anywhere, anytime.
4. Launched the first cloud-based Management Information System (MIS) in 2010, which enabled schools to manage their data securely and efficiently without the need for expensive hardware or IT infrastructure.
How could AI be useful in a School Management Information System?
At Bromcom we thought, “if there’s a new techology that could help schools, we want in on it” and have already developed a ‘rudimentary’ intelligence that can answer questionsRead now
Fast forward to AI
AI has been a hot topic for a few years, and now we are seeing how it can be used and how it might benefit schools on a day-to-day basis. AI chatbots provide a gateway to data insight without the need for expertise, enabling educators to focus on engaging with staff and students.
One of the emerging features of AI is to live-translate data within communications. For example, a parent of a non-English-speaking student can receive messages translated in their language, and their responses can be translated back into English.
Instant answers but what are the questions?
AI chatbot allow users to retrieve information without having to use complex tools like Power BI. PowerBI, a data analytics tool, already has a natural language Insights engine that can be accessed directly through its existing service or mobile app. With this feature, users can ask Siri-like questions and get instant responses, along with a tap-through link to the specific BI report in the app. This is especially beneficial for non-technical staff who want to retrieve information quickly and efficiently.
Whether you are technically minded or now, this AI chatbot that Bromcom demonstrated at BETT 2023, can provide responses to crucial questions, the where the data is housed in the school database. Examples of such questions are: how does the term in which you were born affect your academic performance, which pupils’ attendance has changed the most, who are the best performing teachers and which staff are likely to retire soon in the next two years?
Getting BETT-er all the time?
At the 2023 BETT Show at London’s Excel, Bromcom demoed a chatbot called a “Personal Assistant”, which was built using ChatGPT. It allows users to type in queries and get suggested answers or frequently asked questions. The implementation is entirely self-contained, using the school’s data and securely reaching out to the web only for specific data.
Integration with Chat GPT
Outside the school database, the seamless integration with Chat GPT can save many hours staff time. For example, staff can provide Chat GPT with the following prompt: ‘draft an email complaining to a parent about a child’s school attendance’. Chat GPT’s response will necessitate only a small amount of editing. The effectiveness and frequency of communication with pupils and parents can also be improved through the integration with Chat GPT. An example of this bit-sized but powerful communication may be through a prompt such as ‘write a short note on tips on how to prepare for exams’.
To ensure compliance with GDPR, the chatbot only sends user questions to ChatGPT or an Azure bot to understand what the user is looking for. Once the system gets a machine-understandable version of the user question, it picks up data from the respective school’s database and returns it to the user. ChatGPT never has access to the database, and in cases where the answer is found on the internet, it avoids going to the database and relies on ChatGPT’s answer.
Bromcom has introduced its framework in education, which uses artificial intelligence to quickly identify potential issues within schools and provide real-time notifications for every level. The framework will unlock a huge amount of insight for educators, allowing them to focus on engaging with staff and students rather than sitting in front of a screen. Bromcom AI chatbot will interrogate and present data on behalf of users. The AI framework will also break down the language barrier by providing accurate translations of text into a wide array of languages, enabling effective communication with non-English speakers. Bromcom demonstrated their AI at BETT 2023.
Until now, AI had been something of a buzzword but many weren’t too sure what benefits it might bring. This year we started to see how it could be used and how it might benefit schools on a day-to-day basis. Bromcom are focusing on AI heavily. Read the full press release about this here.
Full content credit to Pete Atherton – https://peteatherton.substack.com/p/ai-chat-gpt-and-education?sd=pf