The University of Tartu

In spring 2019, speech and language therapy trainee teachers set out to use IRIS Connect’s live in-ear coaching tool. Student teachers worked with children with speech impediments while being observed by their lecturer from another room. This is their journey.

Effectively reflecting on performance is a crucial part of professional development but also a challenging undertaking. For student teachers it can be especially difficult with everything else they have to consider. Often memories are incomplete after a lesson, and we tend to focus on the things that didn’t go well. Having a coach attend a lesson live in the classroom solves some of these issues but also comes with the occasional disrupting element to our practice or makes retrospective feedback difficult to contextualise.

The use of video technology to support student teachers at the University of Tartu

In spring 2019, the University of Tartu set out to use video technology to support the development of Master’s degree speech therapy and special education teacher training students, across two intertwining courses: Seminar of Speech and Language Assessment and Practical Work in Speech and Language Development.

The goal was to improve collaborative learning and increase the impact of the therapy sessions delivered. Having previously participated in a trial with IRIS Connect as part of the ViSuAL Erasmus Plus project, teacher educators had already seen success using IRIS Connect’s reflective tools. This experience made the decision to use the system further, by utilising advanced features such as the live in-ear coaching (Go Live) combined with discreet cameras and microphones (The Discovery Kit), far easier to make for authentic, personalised professional development.

“Video is proving to be a great tool for giving and receiving feedback among peers and the possibility to analyse videos together has allowed for better collaborative experiences.” – Marika Padrik, Associate Professor of Speech Therapy, University of Tartu.

Photo showing unobtrusive IRIS Connect equipment: The iPad, recording through the IRIS Connect app, can be placed safely out of the way and the screen fades to black to avoid distraction. The microphone is in a protective case and can be placed anywhere in the room to pick up good sound quality.

What is live in-ear coaching?

Live in-ear coaching is a high impact accelerated professional development process. It’s the power tool of video coaching. A teaching session is observed remotely, using a high quality camera, by a coach who communicates privately with the teacher via a discrete, wireless earpiece. Communications from the coach during a live session are instantaneous. The teacher receives formative feedback in a prearranged style and can choose how to respond. It’s founded on strong, trusting professional relationships and, most importantly, is teacher-led.

Expert coach Mike Fleetham says: “It can be both daunting and empowering. The thought of having a coach talking to you while you teach seems very disruptive, but in fact, I’m yet to meet anyone who hasn’t either been pleasantly surprised or ecstatic after their initial session. It’s all down to what the coach says and when during a coaching session, and usually that’s not very much at all.”

At the University of Tartu, the speech and language therapy students have reported to have enjoyed the in-ear coaching and highlighted its “ability to provide them with good advice during the session so they can change their activity with the child accordingly, and immediately”.


Video-supported collaborative learning and collaborative knowledge building

In addition to being streamed live, the session is also recorded, shared and used for contextualised feedback sessions between the speech and language therapy lecturer and the participating student. Students could review the video recording of the therapy sessions they prepared and conducted themselves, as well as the sessions by their fellow students with other children, thus increasing their knowledge and experience in speech therapy.

Findings: The speech and language therapy lecturer has found the videos especially useful so far (more so than dictaphones which they had been using previously) and an important learning opportunity.

Marika said: “Students could see how they interact with the child, how they ask questions, how to better analyse the child’s speech, the child’s interactions, their own interaction with the child, and language use.” Furthermore the University of Tartu continues to benefit from the recorded lessons stored in their accounts: “Recording through IRIS Connect is providing us with a growing bank of good example videos we can now show to other student teachers.” 

What the future holds

Down to the success seen with their students teachers and speech and language therapy students in the trials within the ViSuAL project, The University of Tartu are now using IRIS Connect across their Institute of Education to support effective professional development, including remote observation and coaching of student teachers during school placements, those that follow special educational needs curricula and speech and language therapy students.

“The student teachers love using IRIS Connect because the recordings are helping with the accuracy of evaluations: they have the chance to re-watch certain sections or the whole lesson and spot the things they may have missed. Many mention how video recordings have helped them to analyse the lesson and notice their own mistakes so they don’t make them again and can become better specialists.”

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.