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Teachscape’s iPad App Simplifies Teacher Observation
The effectiveness of the U.S. education system has come under fire recently, with budget cuts and stories of unqualified or destructive teachers dominating the news. And as the country continues to rank in the middle of the pack amongst the rest of the world in terms of education, people are looking for any way to help improve the landscape. Technology is best used to solve problems, and a new iPad app has been launched to aid educators in teacher observation. The app, designed by educational technology company Teachscape, is called Reflect Live, and it allows observers to keep an eye on the classroom regardless of whether the room is Wi-Fi enabled. There is also a standard PC version that can be used on laptops or other tablet devices. Teachscape has designed Reflect Live to work with a simple interface, so educators can record detailed observations for later analysis. When the iPad has Wi-Fi access, that data can be uploaded to the Reflect Live system. There it will be aligned within an instructional framework geared towards giving the observed teacher a specific score. The pre-loaded framework is Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Teaching program, but users can upload any type of instructional software, as well as standard observation forms. The native iPad version of Reflect Live also integrates iPad's dictation feature, which was just introduced this month. The observer can dictate their findings into the program without having to type them in. It's a simpler interface for Reflect Live's five-part observation process. First, the user sets the date and time for the session, and the educator who will be observed fills out a form both before and after the observation session. The educator can also attach their lesson plans to the file. Next, the observer takes their notes, connecting the evidence with specific components of the pre-loaded framework. Then the observer names specific teaching practices on display, and gives each one a grade for levels of effective performance. The observer and the educator then meet to review the experience. The teacher adds their personal review to be analyzed side-by-side with the observer's feedback. They discuss recommendations and next steps for improved performance, while the Reflect Live software documents the entire process. Finally, the teacher's performance can be reviewed again over time, and the observers are able to mark trends in their behavior, and make specific recommendations for further developing the educator's strengths and addressing their weaknesses. Jonathan Stowe, COO of Teachscape, feels Reflect Live gives educators a simple tool for observing current behavior and improving methods. And they're doing their best to make it readily available. The iPad version is currently free to download from the iTunes store. But for full functionality, a paid version must be accessed. This gives educators the opportunity to test Reflect Live's viability for their needs, without adding to their already stretched budget. Education is already simplified in so many ways. You can earn an online MBA in finance with ease. So it's fantastic to see that steps are being taken to use that same technology to improve the classroom experience for observers, educators, and most importantly, for the children.