Making an impact

The goal of education is to make an impact on student learning in the classroom, but the question is how to achieve that impact. What truly influences student learning and achievement in the classroom? What makes the biggest difference? 

Perhaps the closest we’ve come to uncovering those answers is an extensive study by Professor John Hattie, Director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne. Hattie spent 20 years collecting every study he could find that related to what makes a different to student learning. His meta-analysis incorporated around 80,000 studies, amounting to a quarter of a billion students. What did his research find? Two of the most influential factors were teachers and feedback. Teachers make an impact. Feedback is vital.

Cartoon of students in a classroom

“Teachers need to have a clear understanding of what they mean by “impact” for their series of lessons., a sense of the desired magnitude of their impact…..One example of what works best is feedback. The important part is not how much feedback the teacher gives a student, but how much feedback a teacher receives about the impact of their practice on student learning. And so part of the work I do is summed up by the phrase, “Know Thy Impact”.” 

Professor John Hattie, The University of Melbourne

Teachers are the difference

Teachers account for about 30% of the variance in student achievement and is the largest influence outside of individual student effort (Hattie, 2003).  This means that teacher professional development is truly the key to increasing student academic success.

For teachers to be able to regularly evaluate their impact in their classroom and adjust their teaching methodology in response to what they see, their classroom needs to be made visible. The concept of seeing clearly what teachers are teaching and what students are learning is known as Visible Learning.

The next question is how can a teacher see their impact in the classroom? That is where Visible Classroom helps.

How Visible Classroom started

In 2011, the Victorian Deaf Education Institute conducted an evaluated trial into the use of real-time captioning in classrooms with the aim of improving the access to learning materials for secondary deaf students. Ai-Media were awarded the tender for providing the live captioning, with the evaluation of the trial being awarded to the University of Melbourne.

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What we found

Whilst evaluating the effectiveness of live captioning for students in this trial, the University of Melbourne noticed something interesting. They observed that the teachers in this trial were changing the way they taught. The catalyst for teacher change was a copy of a transcript from their lesson which teachers were reviewing and self-assessing. Following this discovery, the concept of Visible Classroom evolved as a partnership between the University of Melbourne and Ai-Media exploring the potential of live captioning and transcription to facilitate the professional development of teachers, and students engagement in learning.

Developing the App

Visible Classroom is based on the pedagogical model, which is premised on providing useful real-time evaluative feedback for teachers, and fits with models of best teaching practice outlined in Professor John Hattie’s “Visible Learning”.

The focus of Visible Classroom is to, through technology and evaluation, encourage teachers to critically assess what they have done and what their students have learned. Teachers can see their impact and make subsequent evidence-based adjustments to their teaching to support improved student learning and success. . 

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Piloting the App

The program was first piloted across mainstream schools in the United Kingdom in 10 schools covering 35 primary teachers serving primarily disadvantaged students, and was funded by the Education Endowment Foundation. In addition to the live captioning and transcripts that were a key feature of the intervention, a range of tools were developed to provide teachers with feedback about their practice and impact on students, including a dashboard showing, in real-time, the proportion of teacher talk to student talk, number and type of questions, and their talking speed. The pilot study concluded that the Visible Classroom approach is feasible and has the potential to make a significant impact on teacher practice and benefiting student learning. Following the successful UK trial, Visible Classroom was launched commercially worldwide. 

What educators say about Visible Classroom


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