A large-scale teacher training project was commissioned by the Thai Government aimed at transforming English teaching in Thailand. The Thai MoE contracted the British Council to provide enhanced in-service training to 15,000 Thai primary and secondary teachers of English.
To ensure the training translated into sustained teacher engagement and impact on classroom practice, the British Council commissioned IRIS Connect to pilot the use of a video-based e-mentoring system at scale.
It involved a three-week intensive course in Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) at the British Council’s Regional English Training Centres (RETC), followed by continued online mentoring and peer collaboration via the IRIS Connect platform.
Sub-contracted by the British Council, IRIS Connect conducted two pilots. While the British Council delivered training and managed the mentors/e-moderators, IRIS Connect supplied the technology and the Film Club framework, enabling reflection on practice and collaborative learning . The 1st pilot included 4 mentors/e-moderators who worked with 500 teachers delivering online feedback. The 2nd pilot included 6 mentors/e-moderators working with 60 teachers in a blended model, including face-to-face mentoring, remote video sharing and the IRIS Connect Film Club professional development programme which was tailored to the local context of the Thai teachers.
The partnership between IRIS Connect and the British Council came about through a British Council pilot project to identify and partner with expert UK organisations and engage in collaborative projects overseas. This had the twin aims of contributing to improved outcomes in host countries and supporting the British Council’s cultural relations objectives on behalf of the UK. IRIS Connect was selected as a potential educational partner through a rigorous process of evaluation, focusing on the organisation’s unique Film Club framework and video-based technology for teacher professional learning, and their capacity to work internationally and collaboratively with the British Council.
Despite initial resistance to new video-based methods of learning, the project received high levels of participation and enthusiasm from the Thai teachers and demonstrated a real impact on their classroom practice.
The key findings include teachers’ improved ability to:
- Reflect on their practice
- Implement changes and improve their teaching
- Help other teachers through collaborative learning
The collaboration between IRIS Connect and the British Council showed that this program design, using video technology, combined with discussions through the Film Club model and supported by mentoring in a blended approach, can be used effectively at scale for developing reflective and collaborative practice, and building an evidence-based understanding about what really works in the classroom.