Written by Christophe Mullings.

“You don’t learn from experience but from reflecting on experiences.”

I know this is to slightly misquote John Dewey, but it is pertinent given the unprecedented experiences we are going through and, I would argue, also the unprecedented opportunities for reflection and positive change in the future. 

Amidst the chaos, confusion and tragedy, many colleagues have responded with incredible flexibility and remarkable dedication; I have the utmost respect and I am in awe at the work of so many and would like to believe that their efforts could have some positive outcomes in the future. 

Many colleagues have been involved in a helter-skelter of innovation, ad-hoc innovation and they have worked incredibly hard to support students. There has been little time to pause and think more constructively but now, maybe, is the time to pause from doing the urgent and focus on the important. 

The ongoing challenges for Initial Teacher Education (ITE), not just in the current crisis, are huge and the big question is whether it is possible to improve working practice whilst working within already limited resources.

Many schools, teachers, industry partners and others have responded flexibly to put materials online, and some of it is excellent, but is simply transferring work online enough? Is there much more that needs to be done?

The system has been stress-tested; lessons have been learned, weaknesses exposed, strengths identified, and opportunities have arisen.

We now have many choices; within the field of educational technology we can either consider online learning a simple stop-gap before we return to what we did before, or we can reflect on both the disadvantages and advantages of the broader use of technology and consider what this means for the future. 

I keep being reminded of the essay by Charles William Elliot, President of Harvard University when, in 1869, he wrote a road map for education in his seminal essay, The New Education. In this essay he made the case for continuously updating how and what students learn so that education could evolve in step with society. Society has changed beyond recognition in the last 150 years and technology has driven much of this change. Has education, the contents and the ways in which we work with trainee teachers kept up with these changes? I am not suggesting that all teaching or training can ‘move online’; it can’t, but maybe it can help us move from embedded practices that can be improved on.

Again, a slight misquote, Plato in the Republic said, “Our need will be the real creator”.

Over the last months, exposure to technology and digital learning has been greater than ever before. Teachers have needed to develop new skills and new approaches.


So, just a few question for colleagues providing Initial Teacher Education:

  1. Have you a ready and constructive alternative for traditional observations of trainee teachers?
  2. Did you prepare trainee teachers with the adaptive expertise to respond to new situations? 
  3. Was the training of digital skills and technology a core competence in students’ learning?
  4. Have you grasped the opportunities of technology to improve the learning experience of your own trainee teachers?
  5. Have you prepared trainee teachers to collaborate through technology?
  6. Have you explored how technology can help shape new pedagogies for pupils?
  7. Have you developed the skills of your own staff to help them deliver online teaching and learning?
  8. Have you seen the opportunities that greater use of technology can provide to enable you to be more efficient and effective?
  9. Do current solutions meet the rigorous standards of online security?
  10. Are current solutions easy to access and to use?

Our minds have been focused on this recently and IRIS Connect UK Director of Education, Graham Newell, set out much of this thinking in a recent article in NAACE.

We don’t know yet whether there will be a second wave or even a third wave, but we do know the world will never be quite the same again and this can be for the better – if we allow it. 


How can IRIS Connect help? A few examples from around the world:

The IRIS Connect platform is very much more than a simple video capture tool and has many features that enable collaborative working, analysis, research, coaching, reflection and teaching. The system is used in 30 countries and contributes to many projects and research activities across many sectors, including the most confidential areas such as training of medical staff and doctors and their submissions for examinations.

Here are just a very few of the ideas and solutions that we have put into place with colleagues in schools and universities: 




i. Improving observations whilst saving time and money with remote video.

ii. Finding alternatives to traditional observations that may become increasingly difficult in the near and medium future. Ensuring that observations offer genuine opportunities for coaching and mentoring.

Colleagues in Finland found they could save up to 40 days visiting time by blending remote and face-to-face observations. Critically, students have said they favoured this approach and found the feedback more effective:

Dveloping 21st-century skills whilst saving time and effort.

NB: IRIS Connect (iConnect) has been used in the medical sector for many years to observe and train doctors working with patients. Video is now accepted as an alternative solution for presenting evidence for examinations. 

Improving coaching and mentoring for trained teachers – either time shifted and using time-linked notes and tools or real-time remote coaching.


There is strong evidence supporting the efficacy of video-enabled coaching.

Research conducted by MirandaNet found that using IRIS Connect’s live remote technology enhanced teacher practice and reduced attrition ratesRead the full report here.


Enabling peer-to-peer mentoring for trainee teachers.

In the multinational Erasmus+ project ViSuAL (Video Supported Collaborative Learning Knowledge Alliance), one aspect students found powerful was peer-to-peer collaboration and mentoring: 

And in this blog the value of peer-to-peer coaching is discussed: Coaching for Teachers: What school leaders need to consider.

Enabling the remote delivery of courses in a manner that blends the advantages of both synchronous and asynchronous delivery. If you have access to Cambridge Journal of Education, this is worth a read: Using video clubs to develop teacher’s thinking about practice in oral feedback and dialogic teaching (T. Perry, P. Davis, and J. Brady, May, 2020).
Improving the quality of ITE skills beyond the basics such as online, interactive white boards and GDPR regulations – including pedagogy.  IRIS Connect has been involved in many international projects looking to improve the digital skills of ITE students. For example, the Erasmus+ funded ITELab (Initial Teacher Education Lab) project was created to help resolve “the way in which student teachers currently receive training on ICT, and has been a key road block to innovative pedagogical practices”.
Using technology to provide cost effective solutions for ITE and improving student engagement and access to trainee teacher resources.

Enhanced Teacher Training (Netherlands).


Developing the skills of remote teaching for ITE staff, trainee teachers, PRT’s and teachers.

In this blog from The Mind Lab NZ, Tim Gander, Director of Education, writes how the skills of a teacher pre-COVID are different from the skills required post-COVID.

Also, learn about refining distance learning with IRIS Connect.

Using video for bespoke training solutions for student teachers and ongoing coaching for PRT’s. An example is the Experts in Teaching project at VIA University, Denmark: Supporting a third of Denmark’s trainee teachers with video PLD.


More about Initial Teacher Education (ITE)

For more ideas on Using Video to Support Initial Teacher Education (ITE) download our latest resource! This FREE guide provides ideas and solutions to overcoming the challenges of ITE with video technology to help trainee teachers on their journey to becoming the best teachers they can be.