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A blended approach to reflective and collaborative Initial Teacher Education

VIA University College

VIA University College is Denmark’s largest and most international university of applied sciences. They have 20,000 students of continuing education and they train 33% of all student teachers in Denmark.

VIA has been successfully using IRIS Connect across their programmes and courses since 2012, evolving the relationship into a strategic partnership from 2015.

The IRIS Connect video-based professional learning platform has been integrated with the professional bachelor degree programme for teacher education, enabling student teachers to record, reflect and analyse their teaching practice. Student teachers are also given the opportunity to record their own curriculum lessons delivered in their placement schools and share those lessons with each other, as well as with their tutors.

“When you see each other teach you gain a deeper understanding of what exactly we are talking about. When you watch a video of your practice instead of just talking about what you have experienced, it becomes more tangible” – Student teacher, VIA University College

Collaboration on the IRIS Connect Platform

The objective

VIA wanted to accelerate the support they offered their student teachers, so at the start of 2020 (before the COVID-19 Pandemic hit), they developed the following aims:

1. To better support student teachers to link theory with teaching practice
2. To facilitate peer feedback and collaboration amongst them
3. To activate knowledge build-up from existing studies and processes

Student teachers needed to access a more blended and autonomous model of reflective and collaborative learning and be able to adapt it within their own context.

The focus

Using the existing Film Club framework created by IRIS Connect, 76 student teachers, with the help of 4 teacher educators, set out to connect everything they had learned over the first two years of the programme and create their own film clubs. They split into 24 teams of 3-4 people, each focusing on a different aspect of teacher training, for example:

1. How to begin a lesson
2. How to encourage dialogue in their pupils
3. How to give effective feedback

The main focus was to film and reflect on areas of their teaching that were important to them and collaboratively work towards improving this aspect.

As a central collaborative workspace, VIA used Groups within IRIS Connect. All of the student teachers created Groups themselves and used them to collect theory, share video clips of their practice and give and receive feedback. Some teams successfully stuck to their initial plans, whilst others went to school and noticed that another area of focus was more important to them and therefore changed their study. Most of the students also used the opportunity to align the reflective practice with their school-based mentors to define priorities and get support with their execution of it.

The outcome

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive from both the student teachers and the teacher educators.

“It opened up a lot of dialogue between the student teachers and gave them more insights into the experiences of their peers at different schools, without having to physically be there observing in person. Normally there is a gap in teacher education between what students read in books and what they do in practice. Our main focus was to connect this; to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Video, by definition, helped to make that visible. It makes the engagement and opportunity to reflect on it visible. It got our student teachers closer to what they actually do when they teach and made them reflect on what teaching is all about. It helped them not to be occupied with only filming best practice but to capture real teaching moments and then analyse what actually happened.” – Peter Hougaard Madsen, Associate Professor at VIA University College

The student teachers actually began thinking with the theory they were reading about, and the quantity and quality of feedback they gave to each other improved significantly.

When the pandemic struck in 2020, the IRIS Connect platform suddenly became a vital meeting point for them as there was no longer the possibility to meet face-to-face.

Peter went on to say: “IRIS Connect saved the project. Without the possibility of having these videos and sharing them in a secure place online, our students wouldn’t have had the opportunity to give each other feedback or be exposed to other teaching situations over the past year.”

Besides the great benefits for teacher education, it also made the student teachers feel more connected in a time when physical interaction and the opportunity for professional dialogue was restricted.

Most of the participants confirmed they will continue using video to improve their teaching practice, even after this project is over.

Interested in exploring our platform to support your student teachers?

IRIS Connect is a secure, personalised platform for teachers to record, analyse and reflect on their practice.

Teachers can take control and arrange their own professional learning experiences and resources. As well as share easily with each other to make collaboration simple, organised and effective.

Get more information about IRIS Connect:

See IRIS Connect in action…

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