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Lessonvu from ONVU Learning – evidence-informed EdTech
From concept to operational in schools, action-based research and evidence-informed practice has been, and always will be, at the heart of the Lessonvu 360-degree video recording and sharing system, DNA and developments.
It’s a cliché but Lessonvu in all aspects is truly, “from teachers, with teachers and for teachers”. But that headline is the only thing about Lessonvu that is a cliché, everything in the technology, workflow and use of the Lessonvu system for teacher professional development has been well considered using first hand insight from partner school teachers and other published experts. Andrew Goff, Founding Director of ONVU Learning explains more…
EdTech built on teacher user experience
The ONVU Learning team behind Lessonvu are constantly haunted by me bringing up the phrase PRISME which stands for Problem, Research, Ideas, Solution, Make and Evaluate: The design cycle. At the bedrock of any good product is this design cycle and we are constantly running through this with Lessonvu looking to enhance and refine all aspects built first hand on teacher user experience.
When I was a Design and Technology teacher I used to drum PRISME into my DT students over their project portfolios, and especially the Evaluation section where they used to potentially lose the most marks, and this is how we are now at ONVU Learning; constantly evaluating and considering every aspect so that it supports teachers to achieve their objectives. We won’t get everything right but as our school customers will already witness, we listen, innovate, evaluate and improve Lessonvu to fit teacher and schools needs as fast as possible; exactly what our teacher users are trying to do with their own teaching, in using the Lessonvu system for lesson review, reflection and professional development.
Also, we don’t just talk the walk and design and develop Lessonvu, we actually use it ourselves to coach real teachers in real classrooms remotely. Dr. Sean Warren is our own well experienced teacher coach and he uses the Lessonvu system on a daily basis to remotely coach teachers in the UK and now also in India. His work in coaching teachers is based on his and other published academic research and therefore the Lessonvu technology is always under review from him and developments feed back into the development cycle; from niggles that we smooth out to “how abouts” that we look at building into our development sprints.
Applying EdTech at the right time
Referring to Martin George’s recent article (tes.com) there is one thing about EdTech that I’d like to clear up from the off; “EdTech is not a golden bullet and is only as good as the teachers that apply it as a part of their teaching arsenal at the right time and aligned to students learning needs in front of them.” EdTech can get a bad name and reputation because of misplaced high expectations.
I’m a big enthusiast for EdTech I know that over my career as a teacher and as a businessman leading EdTech businesses I’ve maybe got too enthusiastic at times and got carried away with what can be achieved with EdTech. But even with some of the more outlandish aspects that I’ve been involved in have had research layers. Referring back to when I lead PlayStation’s Education Strategy into schools we carried out projects with PlayStation 4s and a software title called Little Big Planet which involved ‘Sack Boy’ navigating gaming levels that the students themselves had created. Research was carried out by Don Passey from Lancaster University and his team and a research paper of the findings published for teachers to build upon.
I can understand Sir Kevan Collins's comments about “wonder and snake oil”. When I was a teacher striving to do the best for my students daily, it was easy to be taken in by marketing headlines that promised help in achieving your aspirations for them. But in defence of the EdTech sector I don’t think that there are many snake oil merchants left – and if there are then I would hope that now-discerning teachers would spot them and quickly rule them outas we would all want.
Back to the crux of this debate about the evidence-informed development of EdTech: Lessonvu has been continuously developed with academic research in mind. For example, the Hawthorn Effect; in the context of schools this is when either other teachers or technology is noticeably present in the classroom and changes the environment. The students act differently as there are potentially two or three adults in the room and the teacher leading the lesson does a teaching performance on what they think that the observers want to see in order to “check their boxes,” as opposed to responding and interacting with their class and their learning needs as they normally would.
“At the beginning of the Lessonvu journey I remember observing a young maths teacher in Wolverhampton. Normally he would have had some banter with the students about football results as they entered his classroom and through that engaged and checked the students in for learning. However, when being physically observed by senior leaders in the back of the classroom they acted as they thought a “model teacher should” and which resulted in the students quizzically looking at the teacher and wondering where their normal Maths teacher that they loved had gone. What a waste of everyone’s time!
Out of the above experience and many others, Lessonvu is as discreet as possible. Students and teachers forget that the cameras are in the ceiling within a day or so and therefore normal teaching and interactions are recorded meaning that teachers can reflect on real teaching and be curious on real moments that if developed could have positive outcomes on teaching and learning.
A powerful tool in more ways than one
Recently it hit home to me very personally how powerful the Lessonvu system is for teachers and EdTech or other resource manufacturers when I was testing them out in one of our new school customers classrooms. I logged into an anonymous room numbered Lessonvu system to discover that it was a DT lab: To me a fond place with lots of great teaching memories. As a DT teacher you immediately remember the noises that mean one of the students is not holding a piece of material low enough in a vice, or the smells of plastic that has maybe been overheated before it is formed. But for me this was a very interesting moment as although it was an empty DT lab there were two workshop machines on view that in my early teaching career I had helped to design. Wow. Although I’d helped to develop these machines based on my own teaching experiences and had seen my own students use them, I’ve never been in anyone else’s classroom and seen them used. What a resource Lessonvu would have been for me in working with teachers to see how my machines are used and develop them further...
So, whilst Lessonvu is EdTech and its objective is to help teaching and learning by helping teachers develop their skills, wow, what an opportunity we hope we can enable for other EdTech companies to see real classroom environments and research how teachers and students interact with their products and resources. See the teachers talking about and using the resources and the reactions of the students experiencing them – and develop insights from that.
At ONVU Learning we strive to be the best that we can be every day in the development and deployment of Lessonvu. Very much in empathy and synergy with teachers and how they also strive to be the best that they can be for their students. We welcome the growing interest and engagement in Lessonvu from school teachers but also from fellow EdTech companies in order to “build windows into classrooms”, as Dame Alison Peacock would say, in order to help share practice, develop effective EdTech products and most importantly, everyone’s professional standing, respect and focus on doing the very utmost that we can for our young people in schools.