Chocolate is great on its own. Really great.
But sometimes chocolate can be enhanced by mixing it with a few ingredients to create a chocolate chip cookie.
But sometimes video self reflection mixed with other types of evidence analysis can improve the professional development experience.
Similar to how a recipe is needed for combining the ingredients into a cookie, we realized that video self reflection needed a set of complementary experiences.
Explorations™ is our answer.
Explorations enable all organizations to implement research-informed strategies for evidence-based learning within a professional development cycle.
Defining the ingredients of evidence-based learning
Most recipes for chocolate chip cookies include chocolate along with butter, sugar, eggs, flour, salt, and baking soda.
When it came to our work, we knew that video self reflection was going to be a key ingredient. But we needed to figure out the other types of learning that could be combined to form evidence-based learning experiences.
While we couldn’t raid mom’s recipe box for the answer, we could turn to many of our partners. Not only were they Edthena users, but many of them were published researchers on using video as a tool for teacher learning.
In short, we asked the experts.
We discovered four common themes for how they structured learning:
- Reflect on one’s own video
- Provide feedback to peers on their videos
- Analyze an example of instruction
- Share non-video artifacts
This last component type — non-video artifacts — is a great example of what you can learn by talking to your users. It turns out there were scenarios which didn’t benefit from video, and our partners still wanted Edthena to be their one place for all evidence-based learning for their teachers.
One organization, in particular, asked teachers to conduct an audio interview with a student, then offer a written reflection on how student backgrounds can support efforts to develop culturally responsive teaching practices.
Explorations solved for this situation by providing a direct way to upload files that aren’t specifically tied to video evidence. Making it possible to engage in a non-video learning experience in Edthena greatly extended the types of learning that are directly supported and suggested by the Edthena interface.
Everyone can be a PD chef using Explorations
One of the important things about the design of Explorations is flexibility to define exactly how the learning should be structured using one or more of the learning components described above.
And much like the many ways to make chocolate chip cookies, there are many ways to combine the components of Explorations.
Sometimes the reflection cycle is two weeks, other times it’s two days.
Sometimes teachers should record one lesson and reflect alone, other times they should record a series of lessons and observe peers.
Sometimes the conversations should be tied to subject-matter standards, other times to state-specific standards.
What’s great about Explorations is that admins are guided through the design process using a click-button wizard. Teachers always get a clear picture of expectations and timelines. And coaches have an organized way to review each teacher’s evidence and provide feedback in a systematic way.
Baking a whole plate of professional development experiences
For five years Edthena has been designing the best tools available for video coaching.
In 2011 we launched with the first collaboration-focused video conversation platform for teachers to leave timestamped feedback on videos shared with their coaches.
In 2012 we offered the first-of-its kind video tool which enabled any user to automatically compress and upload video from any device.
In 2013 we rebuilt our entire platform and released our patented commenting tools which helps teachers quickly surface meaning from within the comment text.
In 2014 we released Explorations. That’s right… it was more than a year ago that we made these tools available.
We have many reasons for keeping quiet for a whole year, and we have one specific reason for detailing the features now. That “released in 2015” announcement coming soon.