Increasing Peer Collaboration and Feedback at Penn

Chris Pupik Dean teaches social foundations and field seminar courses at University of Pennsylvania. He also serves as the Associate Director of the Penn Residency Master’s in Teaching program.

Chris Pupik-DeanThis year Penn is using Edthena to enhance collaboration between student-teachers and mentors across a geographically diverse set of placement-sites.

How do you currently use Edthena?

We have started using Edthena for four distinct types of learning activities:

  1. Monthly “video journal” exchange between student-teachers and mentors
  2. Subject-specific methods instructors are asking student-teachers to capture evidence of themselves performing certain practices in the classroom (e.g. a particular form of classroom opening)
  3. Sharing one video between everyone in a class so they can review and comment on the video before a classroom discussion
  4. Mentor-facilitated small group conversations about particular classroom practices/issues

You are using Edthena in a variety of ways. Can you describe one of the learning cycles in more detail?

Every few weeks, small groups of student-teachers are tasked to read an article and then collect video data from their classroom that relates to the readings.

For instance, students might read an article about providing feedback. The student-teachers then collect video evidence around how they are providing feedback to students in class.

This evidence is shared with the group, and group members view and comment on each other’s videos.

penn gseHow did your teachers react to using Edthena?

Initially, teachers and mentors worried about being able to easily capture, upload, and share the video evidence they collected.

Uploading and sharing was a significant barrier with other platforms we tested, but Edthena was by far the easiest to use platform we have found.

How is Edthena helping change attitudes about making practice public?

The coaching/mentoring process is frequently confined to the teacher and mentor (and maybe classroom mentor). As we have started using Edthena, we are now asking students to share their practice with peers in a way they have not had to previously.

This certainly made some uncomfortable. However, we think this has worked in a positive way to created a more open dialogue about the practice of teaching.

How has Edthena helped increase collaboration among candidates in your program?

Our student-teachers are placed in schools that are geographically separated, making observation across school settings difficult.

Edthena has allowed us to provide an opportunity for students to see a great deal more practice in a larger variety of settings.

This has also facilitated incredible conversations about teaching and learning across these geographical barriers.

5 Best Practices to Leverage Video for Teacher Development And Coaching

five best practicesImplementing a video-focused development model for teachers looks different across the various contexts where Edthena is used.

We recently hosted a webinar with Suzanne Arnold, a professor at the University of Colorado Denver School of Education.

Suzanne shared her reflections on the strategies which have helped enable the success of her program in their own use of video.

We condensed her wisdom into a few slides so that everyone in the teacher education and teacher improvement community can benefit from her perspectives.

Let us know what you think!

photo credit: losmininos via photopin cc

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Doubling Down on Education

We talk a lot about education at our company. We serve education organizations to help them achieve their goals of helping teachers get better at teaching and, ultimately, increasing outcomes for children in classrooms.

So while we’re an education technology company, it’s no secret that we have people on our team who serve in a sales role.

And part of the process of selling our platform is demoing our platform. We often record these demos and then use Edthena to analyze, comment, and implement changes to our practice.

On one hand, it’s a testament to the platform that we’ve built that it adds value even to our own workflow. But on the other hand, it helps add fuel to all the outsiders who often ask “Why don’t you try to sell to other markets? This would be great for ____!”

Double Down Counting CardsThe blank can get filled in with salespeople, managers, doctors, public speaking… essentially any context where feedback on one’s role would be appropriate.

It’s tempting to let ourselves get distracted and go after all these different opportunities. But instead, we’re staying focused on education.

This is not to say that our technology will never be applied to these contexts. We can easily envision how our solutions could be re-branded and sold under a name other than Edthena some day.

Instead, it’s meant to convey we’re staying focused to make sure we develop the right thing for educators.

To make sure that we deliver nothing less than excellent product experience for all our existing users.

To make sure that we follow-through on our promises to current clients to have the best platform for facilitating the development of teachers (and other educators) within an education context.

PS-As a team, we’re each particularly passionate about helping transform how teachers experience professional development in this country, too. Many of us are former classroom teachers. Having an impact on Education in the broadest sense is what gets us out of bed each day and motivates us when working late or on the weekends.

Image credit: sanfranannie cc

Enabling an online master’s program at University of Kansas

Edthena partners with top teacher education and support organizations throughout the country. We’re constantly inspired and excited by the success we’re seeing when Edthena is put into use. This is the first in our Partner Profile series to highlight these success stories and innovative uses of our platform.

Martha Elford

Martha D. Elford, Ph.D.
University of Kansas

Martha Elford is a researcher at the University of Kansas who studies the impact of coaching for pre-service and in-service teachers on student achievement.

This year KU started a new, online master’s program for special education. KU needed a platform to help facilitate an observation and feedback process for candidates who might be based near or far from the faculty on campus.

What is your background experience with coaching teachers and using video?

As an Instructional Coach for five years at the KU Center for Research on Learning, I coached teachers by collecting observational data, and then, by using video. In the last two years as a researcher and coach with KU-CRL, we have been studying what essential and discrete behaviors make coaching effective.

As an instructor for the online Special Education Master’s program at University of Kansas, we use video in the practicum course to coach teachers toward best practices for instruction and classroom management as they complete the requirements for their degree.

kansas-logo[1]What was the need that Edthena helped solve?

The University of Kansas Special Education online practicum course is a great fit for Edthena.  Students upload their teaching videos; I watch the videos and give specific feedback using the comment tool in the program.

Edthena is one way for us to get a real-time view of teachers in their practice, thus to bridging the distance gap for practicum supervision.

How do the teachers react to using Edthena for an online coaching process?

Coaching, much like teaching, is such a complex and relational task.  It takes thoughtful consideration and intentional application of research-based strategies that are adapted for an online setting.

We’ve just begun using Edthena for coaching teachers, but I can report that the teachers have reacted positively.

They read the feedback delivered via the program’s time-stamp feature.  Some of them ask questions in reply, or make a comment of explanation.  Edthena provides space for an online dialogue related to the teaching practices demonstrated in the video.

How is Edthena helping you compared to tools or systems you’ve used in the past?

There is one feature that Edthena offers that differs from other online feedback platforms we’ve previously used; it is the Explorations feature.  I’ve just begun to use this feature, and I am already seeing its benefits.

In KU Special Education’s practicum course, it is important to observe teachers in a variety of settings. Explorations feature allows me to organize videos from a number of teachers based on a similar setting, or any established criteria.

Also, in the future, Explorations will permit me to set up different groups, similar to professional learning communities. Teachers can observe one another and provide peer feedback while I monitor the feedback and offer coaching for both individuals and groups.

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We don’t have an iPhone app, and that’s a good thing

This post adapted from a post appearing on Education Week

Often times, we’re asked about we’re asked whether we have an iPhone app. The answer is that we don’t. There’s a good reason for it, too.

The reality is that there are not infinite resources in a small company, and by offering the cross-platform Edthena Video Tool, we can ensure a great experience for all of our users across a variety of video capture devices.

Here’s a bit more on where we stand…

The deficit-based claim about Edthena by a competitor:edthena iphone app

Edthena doesn’t have an iPhone app. This is going to make uploading videos a cumbersome and inefficient process. You’ll need to take the video to a computer to do your uploading. We built an iPhone app that makes this very easy for you to upload your video directly to our site from your phone.

Edthena’s view:

Others may focus attention on their iPhone app and how it represents that their technology is more advanced or their technical team is more sophisticated. But the reality is that almost everyone is utilizing a specific third-party company to serve as the underlying technology to power this process.

To be honest, we’ve heard varying reports about the success of uploading long videos on those apps, because it’s a lot of data that needs to be moved off the phone. The apps work best for three-minute videos captured at birthday parties, not 30-minute videos of classroom instruction.

And for all that focus on an iPhone app, how do others meet the needs of non-iPhone users? If there is an option, it’s secondary and not as good as the iPhone method. Get ready for a Java-based uploader and/or an 18-step method for how to compress your video.

It’s true that we don’t offer an iPhone app today — at some point we certainly will — but for now we have prioritized the Edthena Video Tool. The Edthena Video Tool is technology built in-house. This means we can manage and control the entire process. We can react quickly to any issues so that we can deliver on the promise of successful uploads by any user while supporting a multitude of camera devices.

We’ve learned from our partners that equity of access is a big concern when you start thinking about larger deployments. Not everyone has an iPhone. Our current partners confirm that requiring an iOS device is an unreasonable financial burden to place on their users or organization just to have an opportunity to try the “recommended method” for getting videos online.

The Edthena Video Tool enables any user to upload videos from an iPhone with the same level of drag-and-drop simplicity as a three-year-old camera. There is no first-class and economy-class treatment in our model. Everyone gets an excellent, headache-free experience.

As our company grows, we have plans to support native applications for both iPhone and Andriod platforms. But in the meantime, we’ll be staying the course with the Edthena Video Tool and directing our resources toward some really exciting and advanced features for our web application set to release this fall.

photo image credit: cc


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