Why did you create the HOW2s? What is their purpose?
Here’s the short answer.
To make it easier and quicker for educators to meet the needs of their learners and make sure every one of them can access the content taught, and remember it in the long term so that the learner can access future life, learning and work opportunities.
Up-skilling the dual professional (a slightly longer answer)
We wanted to make it easier for anyone in the role of an educator, (e.g. teachers, trainers, assessors, lecturers, instructors) to develop their teaching skills. Our experience is that more often than not, the educators we work with know a lot about WHAT they are teaching but know less about HOW best to teach it. For example, an Instructor in the UK Ministry of Defence will typically have over eight years of experience developing their subject knowledge and expertise. If selected to be a trainer the MoD’s Defence-Train-the-Trainer Programme lasts two weeks.
Put simply, just because you are an expert in something absolutely does not guarantee you will be any good at teaching it.
We think that learners should be taught by educators who are at least as skilled in teaching as they are knowledgeable in their subject. A starting point for our customers is a recognition that there is an imbalance between what they teach and how well they teach it.
Here’s our original concept video (56 seconds) plus an add on look inside (around another 60 seconds)
Its a bit dated now but we still use the aeroplane safety card analogy when we aren’t able to show folk the HOW2s.
And if you want to read a bit more about the background to HOW2s.
There are a few things we can say about this. It all revolved around our instinct that was yelling out at us that educators were entitled to something more modern and better than what was available.
In the late 2000s, we noticed that a lot of attention was on what worked best in terms of teaching students, but comparatively, little attention was on what worked best when it came to CPD or teaching anyone in a teaching role. In 2007 the McKinsey report concluded an organisation is only as good as its teachers or if we want to remove the person from this equation, it’s teaching.
In 2008 we attended the VizThink conference in Berlin. We saw the impact of information graphics in the business sector and thought “why not do this for the education sector?”.
After ten years on the road, we’d become increasingly aware of the limitations of live training. By 2010 we’d led 000s of live training events — all very well received I might add, but as we got into the 000s, the limitations were starting to scream at us. For example, it’s impossible to personalise learning for 3/400+ teachers in one go. Also, engaging an audience of several hundred people at a time and making sure they leave highly motivated is one thing. But engagement does not equate to learning. We knew, through cognitively load theory and our own experience, that much is forgotten.
Two problems that come up with all live training are speed and volume of content. We noticed that when we worked with huge groups, in particular, there would be a % of people who said the material was delivered too fast. But a similar % would say it was too slow. A % might also argue that we should have spent more time on less content and vice versa. The adage ‘you can’t please all the people all of the time’ came to mind. But we asked ourselves the question ‘Or can you..?’
Emerging research was pointing to a move away from one-off events and the need for educators to ongoingly engage in reflecting on their teaching practice to meet the learning needs of their students. Live trainers, ourselves included, started to adjust their live training programmes to include a ‘what now’ section or offer 2 or 3 – 5 day programmes spread out over time. In the late 2000s, we were charging around £2000 a day plus expenses, so a five-day programme was >£10K. There has to be a better (less expensive) way — we thought.
We’d also noticed that some teacher appraisal and teacher lesson observations seemed to fall well short of being of practical value and helpful to the teacher. For example, at the end of lesson observations, there were often discussions around ‘what’ needed to happen next. But, if the teacher asked ‘So how do I do that..?’, they were being referred elsewhere. Perhaps to a coach. And here it gets particularly interesting. Some coaching models work in a way that sees the coach support the teacher in finding their solutions and A LOT of teachers were telling us “If we knew how to do it, we’d be doing it already. Why can’t they just tell us?”. The good news is that instructional coaching models = put forward ‘how-to’ solutions. But the problem here is getting access to the coach. Instructional coaches don’t come cheap. And there’s a limit to how many teachers a single coach or even a team can support. So, we asked, “What if we put the knowledge of an instructional coach online…?”
We also wanted to, and this might sound a little strange, ‘democratise cleverness’. By this we mean we decided to put all the expertise that we’d researched and had in ‘our heads’, ‘out there’ so to speak, on the app, where teachers could access the bits that they deemed relevant to them, whenever they needed it.
We also noticed that a lot of CPD was still around developing subject knowledge and skills. And there was, in our opinion, insufficient attention given to how best to communicate or teach or get across this expertise to learners. Thirty years of research by Jim Knight in Texas on Instructional Coaching further highlighted this for us — Instructional Coaches are brilliant. They are also, as we mentioned earlier, very expensive. Why? Because all their expertise is locked away in their heads. What if, we thought, we put the instructional knowledge online “as if” it were a virtual instructional coach?