Northernlands 2 - Teacher Tapp
Tom Forth interviews Laura McInerney, Founder of Teacher Tapp, and Dr Amber Walraven, Associate Professor at Radboud Academy, about the way that Teacher Tapp engages with teachers, and how the successful app is being rolled out in the Netherlands
This transcript comes from the captions associated with the video above. It is "as spoken".
So I think to start off, the best thing is if you could tell me who you are
My name is Laura McInerney and I'm the CEO of
Teacher Tapp. Fantastic and I suppose the question everyone will have
is what is Teacher Tapp?
Are you sure everyone else? I think some people will know, but
if you don't then Teacher Tapp is a survey app that surveys
teachers every day so they have it on their phone. It pings once
per day and then it gives him about 3 questions. They answer
the questions and they get to see the results of the day before
There's a little bit of gamification There's some badges available and
there's a daily read on the final page, but otherwise that's it.
It takes about a minute to minute and a half for teachers
We've now got about 9000
users every day. And the things they say they love about it is
that they enjoy answering the questions that make something
They loved seeing the answers 'cause they're often spending
lots their day on their own so they don't get to see what
happens in other classrooms. And also they really appreciate having
one thing to do today - two to three minutes that helps you get
better at their job, but isn't. You know you're not going to
have to scroll through loads and loads of social media to make it
happen. Yeah, so at the end of the day you show the
teachers who've answered questions all of the results.
And you include a link to some learning or blogs. Is that
right? Yeah, that's right. So this one blog every day. It's
just one curated and picked for you. Fantastic. In the time that
you've been running Teacher Tapp, which is a few years now, in
the UK. Which has been your favorite result? What's the
output that you've had from it That's been most exciting or
surprising or interesting? So there's a difference there there's
my favorite result. And then there's the one that had the
most surprising output, so I'll give you my most favorite
question is when we ask on New Year's Day or we asked on New
Year's Day a couple of years ago, which was imagine you're
walking down the street, and a
genie appears. You can have one
of three wishes. Would you like to have number one: total
well being for you and your
colleagues? #2 top exam results, for every child in your school
or #3 £1,000,000 in your bank. And if you ask a room full
of teachers this, you know, very few people put their hand up
for the million pound. Yeah when you ask on an app what you find
is around 75% of teachers will pick the million pound and my
cofounder professor Becky Allen who comes from an economic background
and her question was who was the 25% who didn't take the £1,000,000
in their bank. But it seems quite shocking.
So that was my favorite result. And then in terms of the impact,
we've actually had lots of different ones and things that
government ministers have talked about: big policy changes. But my
favorite was a teacher who ran up to me at a conference and said "thank
you so much for Teacher Tapp.
We took the finding that over half of schools don't have to
pay for their hot drinks to our Head Teacher as we had to pay for
tea/coffee in our staff room. We thought it was completely unfair and
we showed them that actually loads of other schools got it
for free. They gave us pretty and coffee". So somewhere out
there there's someone having a brew
on Teacher Tapp. I'm amazed, I'm amazed that you would make
teachers pay for tea and coffee, but you started this two or three
years ago. You're up to something like 10,000 teachers.
Is that about right?
Yes, there about 9000 teachers now and I have to say that I've
just noticed the date and this time three years ago I was
actually lying in hospital with sepsis nearly dying. We just
about four days earlier set up what was going to become Teacher
Tapp and then yeah my body decided to try and off me and
then when it didn't manage, the nice thing was I had a whole
summer in which I was recuperating and we were able to
plan and develop the app. So in some ways it was great.
What's next for the app? So 10,000 teachers in UK is
fantastic where are you going next and what are the challenges
with that expansion? One of the things that people
have said all along is "well can we go to other countries?" and
that would be amazing because there's a lot of questions that
we get answers to and we think, well, that's just how
teaching is. But what if actually it turns out that maths
teachers answer these questions completely differently in
another country? You can't just say then, or that's how maths
teachers are. So we've already launched. Teacher Tapp Ghana
that's piloting at the moment and is off. We also launched
Teacher Tapp Netherlands, so we've now got Dutch speakers on the
app and tweeting me in Dutch, which is amazing. It's sort of I
can never quite. It sounds a bit like Geordie half the time mixed
with some different letters, but it's amazing. So exciting to see
the questions in another language. And obviously we'd
like to do more countries and expansions in the future as well
as the fact that we're about to launch in a couple weeks time
Parent Ping, which isn't going to be something related to
parents. Now I will let slip that me and Dan developed the
very first version of Teacher Tapp.
But I know nothing about Parent Ping. I've not been
involved with it at all. What is
Parent Ping? I mean, it's very, very similar to Teacher Tapp, so
the same concept and at the moment it's just in development.
We're just starting to test it, but the aim should be that
parents will be able to do the same thing. So answer some
questions, see what other people
are saying and read something very simple, everyday.
And as a parent you know it's really difficult. You don't
always know what other people are doing, and you don't always
want to ask. You don't want to get into these kind of
competitive WhatsApp groups where you ask somebody about
what you're doing on lock down and the next thing you know,
you've got 53 pictures from somebody who's got amazing
timetables everywhere and she's
done gingerbread cookies and you know some bloke is
cooking with his kids. You just want something very simple and
that's what we're hoping that Parent Ping will be. I suppose
that's like your earlier point around teachers lying or being
sociable and saying they wouldn't take £1,000,000 when
really they would take £1,000,000, right? And probably
the public persona of parents is quite different to just trying
to make sure that their kids are out the door at half past 8.
Well, exactly and you know then there's really tricky
questions, like how much money is the tooth fairy, and I
know that sounds really simple, but you don't want to
overshoot the first time and then find out that everybody in
the other class you know wasn't giving away pound coins.
But you also don't want to be too stingy if you start asking
people that everyone's got to look as if they're giving lots
of money away. So I think there's some really interesting
tiny little things that we can work on, and they don't sound
important to begin with. But like with the tea and coffee
that can make quite a big difference to teacher moral
and well being, and that's one of the things we were.
focussed on likewise with Parent Ping you just don't know
what will make people feel better, more confident, more
interested in becoming a better parent until we start asking the
questions. Fantastic and the last thing I want to talk about
is the blog so.
The data that you collect is extremely personal, so you can't
publish the data. It's individual teachers data, but
you do publish a blog relatively often with results. What does
that involve and what kind of readership do you think you get
on that blog? So important point there - the statistics that
we we provide in the kind of the graphics and the results that
we're sharing are at that top aggregate level. So we're not
sharing individuals data.
But then what happens is so my cofounder, and actually the
person who came up with the idea initially is Professor Becky
Allen. As I said, she's an economist by background. Also an
amazing quantitative researcher. I mean, you've met her Tom, she's
amazingly impressive. And so what happens each week is Becky
looks back over what we've been learning and curates the
best findings, develops graphs and puts those findings out to
the world and has been on Mondays. It's going to be on
Tuesdays, going forwards, and those then get picked up by
journalists, by education policy
makers. We made a lot of our data initially when Covid was
happening. We made a lot of it as open as we could in terms of
those aggregate results, and that meant that decisions could
be taken at the highest level based on up-to-date information,
which otherwise just wouldn't have been available. So I have
to say the blog is very much Becky's genius and then other
people who are the geniuses that make things work in the country
tend to read it and overall the nice thing is, it means you
helping people from biscuits right through to decisions
around for instance the tuition
next year that's happening in schools. We ask questions
around that. We ask questions around when the kids should be
going back. Government doesn't always listen, but at least
we've got the data. Fantastic. Thanks very much, Laura.
So my first question for you, Amber is, can you introduce
yourself so that our audience Northernlands 2 know who you
are? I can, my name is Amber Walraven. I'm an assistant
professor at the Radboud University at the ITE of the Radboud
University called Radboud Docenten Academie or are Radbput
Teachers Academy. I teach general didactics there and I'm
also currently running research projects where we involve
Teacher Tapp. So we brought Teacher Tapp to the Netherlands
and I'm running that platform in the Netherlands at the moment
Excellent. So we spoke to Laura Teacher Tapp in the UK earlier
and she was telling us about how they have sometimes 10,000
teachers answering that
question. How many teachers do you have answering your
questions at the moment in the Netherlands? Well, we've only
been running for four weeks with a small test group, so at the
moment we have between 60 and 80
people answering. A long way to go.
After four weeks in the UK we did not
have 60 people. OK, it was still just Laura's friends really
and Becky's friend. Even with just 60 people. Have you
had any interesting results yet from Teacher Tapp? Now of course
I think every result is interesting. I look forward to
the results every day.
But I think the question we had the most
what do you call it? Response that's been given
by the largest group of people is about whether it would help
to receive a bonus to go to work in a school in part of your
town. What's the English word. It's Friday afternoon and
I'm searching for my words. Deprived? That's what I mean.
We had a sum of money. Our government said we need to do
something about our four large cities which have a teacher
shortage. Big teacher shortage. How can we get people to go to
work in our four big cities and one of our cities, Amsterdam
said "Let's give teachers a bonus" and we ask our participants
about would that bonus personally make you go and
work in such a school?
And 71% said no.
It was interesting I thought Yes, I think they have
asked some similar questions in Teacher Tapp in the UK.
Some of them are maybe a bit more capitalistic than that in
some of the answers perhaps. Well we followed up, of
course with a few days later with a question about teaching
in certain schools, does it require extra skills of
teachers, most of them said yes,
absolutely. And we also said what would be a reason for you
to go and work. And some said "I need to feel that I can
"make a difference over there."
"Plus I need smaller class size".
Excellent, yeah, I think this is these are the kind of results
that I love from the app so the government would be better
to improve the quality of the job not to pay teachers more.
Excellent, can I ask how you found out about Teacher Tapp in
the first place? How did you learn about it? On Twitter I think. I'm
a huge Twitter fan. I tweet all the time. Most people ask how I
can get any work done with the amounts of tweets. Sometimes it
turns into free work, doesn't it? That's what I find.
I'm a teacher, educator with also special profile aimed at
ICT in education. So I feel it's part of my job to be involved in
things in ICT, in education as well. So I saw it on Twitter
I think and then I started to follow and I looked
at the website and a few years ago I thought it would be great
if we could have a Dutch version. So I already contacted
Becky at that time, but I did not have the funding at that
time and when I was writing a new research proposal, I kind of
wrote Teacher Tapp in the proposal said we need to have as
a building block for our research and that's.
why we have Teacher Tapp now for at least three years in
the Netherlands? So what is the plan for Teacher Tapp in the
Netherlands? More users, I guess. More users making sure we
have... well, we aim at primary, secondary and
vocational education, and at the moment I
think we have more users in primary education. So a step would
be upping the users but also making sure we have enough users
in all of our groups. And all of our regions. And I think my most
important goal is also to find the users that are not on
Twitter. So to make sure that the people who are using it will
go to their colleagues and say please download it and use it as
well and to make sure that Teacher Tapp can become
something that they talk about during lunch everyday.
That's I think my main goal. Of course having a lot of
users is great but making sure that it helps the actual
teachers in schools is more
important. And I guess that the the primary difficulty
in just... we could not just copy the app from the UK to the
Netherlands, because the questions would all be in
English. What other challenges have there been apart from that,
or has it been quite easy?
Translating is one, but you have things like Head
Teachers and we don't have things like Head Teacher, so
it's trying to use the right concepts and then.
So it's not just about translating, it's also a
different structure in education
as well. Yes, I know that in Teacher Tapp even within the UK
they have some fun feedback because Scotland has a different
education system to England. So they ask a lot of questions and
the language is obviously understandable. But the question
is meaningless. Yes, can I ask a bit more widely about
technology in education? As part of this conference, we are
talking to a lot of people in the Netherlands, in the UK and in
the USA about how they think technology will change work, how
it will change socializing.
We have not heard anything about how people think technology will
change education. In this conference you mean or in
general... In this conference, just in this conference we are mostly
technology users and developers, not education specialists.
Yeah, well there are a lot of people that say technology will change
education in a huge way but they've been
saying that for I think about 10 years and indeed you haven't
seen a lot of big changes in actual teaching or education.
Yes, people use apps but a lot of time it's what we call
substitution. So you do on your computer, what you could also
do using a paper and a pencil, and I think that's not the way
we should look at technology in education. We should
to do things we can't do without
technology. Or to make it perhaps easier for some
teachers to provide things like feedback or formative
assessment. I think what we saw now in the last period, I think
Teacher Tapp UK ask a question a few days ago about what would
you keep from all this distant education, the upcoming year
when you go back to school, and I think the flexibility and the
individual feedback is
something that will stay. And I think because all the teachers
were forced to use technology they couldn't say no anymore.
I think we will start using
technology for purposes that go beyond what we already
did in the classroom and for
really... what's the English word... including
everyone in our classrooms? So I think that's the biggest
option right now. An upcoming option for technology, and it's
not about making it fun, it's about helping the learning and I
think we have seen now what technology, what the differences
between making it fun and using technology to help people learn?
Excellent, yeah, I think we have all learned a lot the last three
months about technology. Also I think we have learned how
many of the things don't work.
Things that we have built because we thought they might
work don't work and some things work that we didn't think would
work. Yeah, but it's often built from a designer's perspective
and not from a teaching or
learning perspective. What often happens is we have a designer
that comes up with a great tool and then say, well I have to
sign this now go and use it and then every teacher said says
"I'm not going to use it". We involve teachers before you start
designing and talk to teachers about their classroom
activities and about learning, then you can design together
with the teachers and that would
really upgrade I think. Fantastic, so last of all
Amber, if anybody is watching in the Netherlands, how can they
download Teacher Tapp and start using it? They can go to the App
Store store or Google Play and just download. There is
only one Teacher Tapp app so it's the same app as in the UK.
But if they are in Rotterdam they will get Dutch questions
and if they're in London they will get English questions.
Yes. After the update and we're waiting for the update
and it it should be in a few days next week and then from
that moment on if you say "I'm in the Netherlands" then
you get the Dutch questions.
Head of Data, ODI Leeds
Tom has a PhD in computational biology and now runs software and data consultancy imactivate. He is Head of Data at ODI Leeds, where he'll be happy to help you solve problems you have using data. He's particularly interested in data on housing, transport, and income inequality both within Leeds and across the UK and Europe. He blogs at tomforth.co.uk and keeps a more polished internet presence at imactivate.com.
Dr. Amber Walraven
Assistant professor - Radboud Teachers Academy
I am an assistant professor at the Radboud Teachers Academy, the university-based ITE institute. I teach general didactics and design & research.
As a researcher I am interested in both students and teachers and how they can 'make the most' of education, teaching and learning together. What is the role of a teacher, or a student, how do their views on learning impact teaching and learning, what is the role of the curriculum? How do you help students and teachers to take a look at 'today' and use that to shape their next lesson, course, project? I firmly believe education is 'on the move' and we can improve it by asking and answering the right questions, together. I have an extra interest in the role of ict in this whole process.
For a three year project on adaptive expertise of teachers, our research team is running the Dutch version of Teacher Tapp. My role in our research is mostly focused on Teacher Tapp.
Nothernlands 2 is a collaboration between ODI Leeds and The Kingdom of the Netherlands, the start of activity to create, support, and amplify the cultural links between The Netherlands and the North of England. It is with their generous and vigourous support, and the support of other energetic organisations, that Northernlands can be delivered.