EdTech: Seven Years Ago, A Science Teacher With Nowhere To Turn For Professional Development, Created Edthena
Adam Geller was a proactive middle school science teacher. He was at a new school with only one other science teacher, who was barely teaching science. Geller knew he wanted to grow professionally as a science teacher and although his school’s Principal wanted to help, they didn’t have the expertise to help Geller develop as a science teacher. In fact, he told us at TCEA in Austin last week, that he sought out mentorship from a local science museum. While that got him by, he knew that there had to be a better way.
We’ve written thousands of edtech stories about hundreds of great edtech companies. Two of the things we look for. that make edtech companies stand out, are companies created by teachers and for teachers, and companies where you can clearly see the impact on student success. Edthena does both.
Seven years ago when Geller started Edthena, there weren’t a handful of video professional development platforms. Edthena was the only one. The basic concept is easy, the backend and features make it great.
With Edthena, teachers video tape their teaching. They then upload the video to the Edthena platform where it’s automatically marked as private. From there, teachers decide who to share their video with. This can either be a colleague in the same school or district, an administrator, or a coach. Coaches and administrators are able to view the teacher’s videos, along with the other teachers they are coaching, and leave comments, feedback and suggestions.
As more and more competition entered the market, Galler wanted to make sure that Edthena was super easy to use and packed with powerful features. They continue to do both.
For the teacher, recording the videos is virtually seamless, it’s not clunky at all. Using their laptop, Chromebook, tablet or smartphone teachers can use the Edthena app or website and quickly start recording. Edthena knows when a laptop has been closed or an app has been switched off, and as soon as it’s switched back on, continues the recording process. Teachers can choose whichever device they want to record the video. Once recorded, the video is automatically uploaded to Edthena’s cloud where it’s then distributed to whomever the teacher wants it to go to.
One of the newest features that Geller is very excited about is the ability to record directly within Chrome from the Edthena website, without an external app, executable file or even a Chrome extension. When teachers access their Edthena account on the website, from Chrome, a red record button (like the one above) appears right on the Edthena website. When a teacher presses that button it just starts recording. The recording from Chrome feature even works on Android phones. It’s that easy.
A revolutionary feedback tool
Feedback is the most crucial part of professional development. All of the video based professional development platforms use some kind of feedback system. For most, it looks like a long comment trail, similar to what you would find on a good Facebook post. But after a 30, 40 or 60 minute video, there’s nowhere to reference the exact part of the lesson the feedback references. Sure a coach could add a manual time stamp but then the teacher is left scrubbing left and right to find that exact spot. We all know how hard it is to get to an exact spot on any video posted to the internet.
Geller and Edthena have created a patented video conversation tool, that leaves the feedback notated exactly where it references in the video. If you’ve ever used Soundcloud it’s a similar system to that. In fact Geller allowed me to call it “the sound cloud thing” over and over in our meeting and he knew the exact reference I was making. So if at 8 minutes and 25 seconds into the lesson, the teacher stumbles on basic material, the coach can leave feedback exactly at that 8 minute and 25 second mark. When the teacher reads that feedback they just click on it to see the exact spot it goes with.
Coaching and Sharing
With Feedback and coaching the most crucial parts of professional development, sharing becomes the next most important element. Teachers thrive off learning from one another but many prefer to be eased into it. Using Edthena teachers can work 1:1 with their coaches and then, as the school year progresses, more and more colleagues and peers can be added to the mix. If a coach wants all grade level teachers to give feedback to one another they can. If the coach wants all of the science teachers to give feedback to one another, that’s easy to do as well. If two teachers decide they’re going to help one another 1:1 outside of their coach, that’s easy to achieve with Edthena as well.
They Wrote the book on Video Powered Professional Learning
Typically “they wrote the book on it” is a figure of speech attributed to a company that does whatever it is they do, well. In the case of Edthena, Geller along with Jim Knight, literally wrote the book on video powered professional learning. The book, entitled “Evidence of Practice: Playbook For Video Powered Professional Learning” is available here, on Amazon.
Find out more about Edthena here at edthena.com