JW Marshall, an experienced education technology professional and host of MarketScale’s EdTech podcast, recently interviewed Edthena founder, Adam Geller, about the topic of how video can be used in k12 education.
You can listen to the full interview above, and we’ve shared some of the highlights below.
Adam, to start out, if you would give us a little bit about yourself and Edthena and then we’ll jump in and have a quick discussion.
I came to education as a classroom teacher. I taught ninth-grade and eighth-grade science in St Louis, Missouri. In my first year of teaching, I’m going to give credit to my principal, she was very straightforward. She said, “Look, I don’t have experience supervising a science teacher. I can’t necessarily give you the feedback you need.” So I understand the feeling of wanting to get better and not being able to access the right people.
I continued working on that problem. Thinking about how do you help teachers get better? What are the challenges around that? And I started to realize that what I experienced in my first year is really a structural challenge in education.
We know the best way to help teachers get better is their direct feedback and observation on their actual teaching. And the thing preventing us from doing that is having all the right people in the right places at the right times. So Edthena is built to help solve that problem. Essentially, we bring observation and feedback online using recorded videos and specialized commenting tools.
Traditionally, principals make their rounds and there’s some nervousness because it seems like the day that they come is never a typical day. I would imagine that this helps put the teachers at ease a little bit. They can do this more than just once a quarter, right? They can do this continuously.
That’s really the key. The teacher is in the driver’s seat. Even on those informal observations, when someone comes into the room, the observation is still happening to the teacher. The teacher is passively being observed. When you turn that around and you give teachers the opportunity and the agency to record themselves, then suddenly they can participate with you in the process of the observation.
It’s about the impact of making continuous improvements versus getting judged and getting a score.
A video camera doesn’t have an opinion. It doesn’t like you or dislike you. It’s just a mirror. Sometimes we don’t like what we see in the mirror, but we don’t have to question whether it has another agenda other than our own professional growth.
I know for educators, one roadblock to doing something like this is the complexity of implementing and being able to do it. Do they need tech coordinators in the room setting things up? How easy is it for teachers to do this more so on their own or with their peers?
Videos are really complex technology. There’s a lot happening behind the scenes. I think our challenge is making it feel easy. So this is a place where we spend a lot of energy. We like to say we’re an “any device” platform. No matter where you recorded it, we can take that video in.
You can also imagine opening up your Chromebook in your school or your Mac, your PC, or even an Android phone, and inside the browser, you can click one button. It looks like a video camera. Nothing to install. No plugins. No calling the tech people. It just opens up the video recorder. It’s one of those things where it just kind of reduces that friction to getting started.
Check out the full interview on MarketScale’s Edtech Podcast!