AI Coach Platform: When Edtech Concepts Become Practical Classroom Realities (eSchool News)

 

The AI Coach by Edthena was recently featured on the eSchool News Innovations in Education podcast.

Host Kevin Hogan and Edthena founder and CEO Adam Geller spoke about how the AI Coach platform is transforming professional development for teachers, including how it can deliver “anytime anywhere professional development.”

Kevin Hogan’s reflections remarked on how the AI concept has become a classroom reality.

[The] AI coach platform allows all teachers access to support on demand self-analysis as well as actionable advice on how to improve teaching effectiveness.

Inside the AI coach platform, teachers have a conversation with a bot named Edie, their virtual coach. Edie asks teachers to identify their professional goals and then teachers analyze and reflect on the videos that they upload of their own classroom instruction by adding timestamped comments. After the analysis, Edie leads teachers through summarizing the evidence and notes and through developing action plans, they reach goals and increase effectiveness in the teacher’s professional development and self-reflection. Pretty cool sort of stuff.

Kevin Hogan and Adam Geller also spoke about how video has become more commonplace among educators. “People are much more comfortable watching themselves on video,” noted Kevin.

The AI Coach platform is a new reality for how teachers can use video of their own teaching practice to increase their effectiveness, guided by a virtual coach.

Listen to the conversation above (beginning at 6:25) or find the podcast episode at eSchool News. You can see the entire transcript of the conversation below.

Learn more about the AI Coach platform, or request early access.

AI Coach Platform: When Edtech Concepts Become Practical Classroom Realities

Kevin Hogan: I had the chance to speak with Adam Geller, who’s CEO of Edthena, on their product announcement using another A acronym, artificial intelligence. Much like augmented reality, AI has been as much a concept as a reality. After a walkthrough of the product, it’s clear that these technologies, though, have come of age. So, the AI coach platform allows all teachers access to support on demand self-analysis as well as actionable advice on how to improve teaching effectiveness. They use an AI-backed chat bot to guide the teachers through coaching cycles that are aligned to common growth areas such as pacing and engagement and a lot of terms that I know that teachers know even if I don’t.
Well, inside the AI coach platform, teachers have a conversation with a bot named Edie, their virtual coach. Edie asks teachers to identify their professional goals and then teachers analyze and reflect on the videos that they upload of their own classroom instruction by adding timestamped comments. After the analysis, Edie leads teachers through summarizing the evidence and notes and through developing action plans, they reach goals and increase effectiveness in the teacher’s professional development and self-reflection. Pretty cool sort of stuff.
I asked Adam to break down some of the particulars. Have a listen.
Okay, Adam. Thanks so much for speaking with me today. Appreciate it.

Adam Geller: Thanks for having me.

Kevin Hogan: So, really cool demo of the new AI coach. Congratulations on the release this week.

Adam Geller: Thank you. Yeah. It’s been a lot of work to get to this point where we’re ready to talk about it publicly and a lot of conversations in private with educators from across the country.

Kevin Hogan: I’m sure, and especially difficult during these crazy times that we continue to endure. Let’s talk a little bit about two aspects here. One is the artificial intelligence. The second is the professional development. But first, when we talk about AI, I have… Just coming back from FETC last week, I can sense a trend coming in that there are AI features that we used to talk about in theory that are now coming into practice. I saw one piece of software where chat bots were being used to help students in terms of social emotional learning and mental health.
Talk a little bit about your use of artificial intelligence when it comes to teachers.

Adam Geller: Absolutely. You know, I think first it’s important that we say out loud rather than assuming that the phrase artificial intelligence encompasses a lot of different types of computing power on the other end. It could be interpreted to mean that some of the tools that have been in place in the past when we talk about a piece of software that could adjust to students’ needs on the fly and offer a certain type of scaffolded question versus a higher order question based on what students did before… I think that’s a version of artificial intelligence because artificial intelligence means the computer is programmed to respond to the user input in a flexible way that’s not pre-determined.
So, you know, when we think about what the AI coach platform represents, it represents a tool that absolutely has been informed by humans and experienced instructional coaches designing a process for teachers to support the professional learning. But, it’s in some ways known in advance and in other ways completely flexible to the inputs from the teacher.
So, from our perspective, what that means is when teachers say that they want to work on checks for understanding or they want to work on use of academic language in the content area, the platform is responsive to that and able to offer customized content, curated resources and advice around the topics that are important to the teacher right now.

Kevin Hogan: Yeah. In terms of professional development, yet another aspect of the lives of teachers and parents and students in this upheaval is a change in the way that a lot of teachers were able to receive professional development. Right? So, again, I was at FETC. Some of the sessions were full. Some of the sessions were canceled. People got their certificates. And again, BP, before the pandemic, maybe your professional development was three days of workshops before the first day of school, in person and synchronous. And, your product, your service here is something that is asynchronous and has some different ways of delivering maybe always on anytime anywhere professional development. Talk about how those things have changed when it comes to providing those sort of services for teachers.

Adam Geller: Absolutely. I mean, I think that you used the key words there. We shifted from synchronous to asynchronous but I think we would add to that our expectations have changed. Right? Because, I think before the pandemic, you had synchronous learning. You had asynchronous learning. But, there may not have been an expectation of availability of those asynchronous options. I think the pandemic has heightened everyone’s awareness that it is possible for high quality learning to occur in asynchronous settings. I’m not advocating that all learning should be asynchronous by any means. But, some learning can happen in asynchronous ways and still be extremely high quality.
So, as we were designing the AI coach platform, we were really trying to think about, as you said, how do we create that experience for the teachers that feels like it’s an on demand responsive environment ready when they are? And, maybe that’s during their planning period. Maybe that’s for the one hour or half day release that they have for professional development this week on a Friday. Maybe for some teachers, that might be after school as an extra service time. But, I think all of those things and everything in between including, “I set aside my hour but then the fire alarm went off and I had to go take those students outside,” or the emergency assembly kind of thing.
You know, and good news. The AI coach… Her name… The person, she’s named Edie. She’ll be there. Right? She’s ready when the teacher’s ready to continue the conversation.

Kevin Hogan: Very cool. One other thing that popped into my head during the demo was the use of video. And so, there’s something else that might be maybe a pandemic silver lining. I know one of the biggest hesitations when we’ve spoken before is adults’, teachers’ hesitancy to record themselves and to watch themselves and even to communicate via video. Those days have changed. Right? I mean, at least maybe this great beta test… People are much more comfortable watching themselves on video.

Adam Geller: Well, you know, I think that almost every teacher today has done some on video teaching. You know? Almost all. And, I think that that shared commonality really changes the conversation when you talk with an educator about engaging in video reflection because it… Sure. You know, I can’t wave the magic wand and make us magically feel like, “Oh yeah. I love looking at myself on video.” You know? Because, everybody compares themselves to being a movie star and the reality is, is we don’t have makeup artists and lighting designers making sure that we look amazing when we’re teaching inside of our classrooms.
But, the reality of video is that it is an unbiased reflection, mirror, on what’s happening in the classroom. So, I think as it relates to the AI coach platform, it was really on us to continue staying focused on the idea that you have to create tools that create a safe place for teachers to ask for help. So, inside the platform, teachers have a video of their teaching. They are working on analyzing that video with the guided support, but everything is private just to the teacher. They’re in control of that video. No one can see that video unless they were to invite someone over and say, “Hey, why don’t you look at this video with me?.”
And, even at the end of the process, you know, there’s an artifact that’s produced. We call it the reflection log. Even that is private to the teacher. If they never want to share that with somebody, fine. They can just… You know, you hinted before at the PD hour certificate. They can get the PD hour certificate at the end that demonstrates that they completed the process or they could take that reflection log to a PLC meeting, to an in-person meeting with a coach, to a conversation with a school leader, and have more data produced by them that helps them talk about what’s happening in their classroom and really importantly, helps them stay anchored on what’s the impact with students and how to increase student learning.

Kevin Hogan: That’s great. Well, once again, congratulations, Adam. I look forward to hearing how schools start to use this for the benefit of the teachers who can really use all the help they can get.

Adam Geller: Yeah. Thanks so much for having me.

Kevin Hogan: So, that about wraps it up for this episode. Be sure to check back on eschoolnews.com for all the latest and greatest news and analysis for what’s happening in the ed tech space. eSchool News is always free and always helping innovative educators just like you. Until next time, I’m Kevin Hogan.

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