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New iTeachAZ mobile app a timesaver for teachers

teacher and students in a classroom
April 02, 2014

Whether it’s in front of a class of students, reviewing the work afterward or preparing for the next lesson, time is precious for teachers and instructors inside and outside the classroom.

To assist the Arizona State University Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College faculty, site coordinators and mentor teachers involved in its iTeachAZ teacher candidate program, the Teachers College’s Information Technology Integration Services Office worked with SDG Corporation to develop the iTeachAZ mobile app. This resourceful tool allows the users to observe, record and transmit its observations and notes into an evaluative data dashboard.

“In previous years, data analysis has been time-consuming and cumbersome, but this iTeachAZ data collection application creates an efficient and effective way of collecting data for the performance assessment process and walk-through process,” says Sarah Beal, the executive director of the ASU NEXT / TQP program, and a former iTeachAZ program specialist.

iTeachAZ is the Teachers College’s teacher preparation program where teacher candidates spend their senior year immersed in a partnering pre-K-12 school. An in-service mentor teacher provides the students with in-classroom experiences while ASU faculty and site coordinators provide instruction and clinical supervision using the TAP System rubric at the school sites.

Ease of app for educators

The iTeachAZ mobile app is web-based and allows iTeachAZ educators to collect and submit teacher candidate data on nearly any device: laptop, tablet, mobile device or desktop computer. Most importantly, the program can securely be utilized online or without any Internet access, an invaluable tool since not all participating iTeachAZ schools have wireless access in all their classrooms.

Within the encrypted app, users select from a list of their assigned teacher candidates to submit the appropriate forms: performance assessments, walk-throughs, progress reports, and notebook and attendance checks. The user securely enters the teacher candidate information directly into the application and can save the form to the device, upload to Tk20 (an online data management system for students to manage their academic activities related to teacher/administrator certification) or export the information as a PDF, Word document or text file. These electronic formats, which can be adjusted for updates and re-uploaded to the system if necessary, are also reducing paper copies of the documents and furthering the university’s sustainability goals.

“The iTeachAZ mobile app has made my walk-throughs and performance assessments data easier to enter,” says Jennifer Erpelding, an iTeachAZ site coordinator in the Deer Valley School District. “I am now able to enter data right in the mobile app, either being online or offline, and I know that my evidence will be entered right into Tk20.”

Uploads to Tk20 are transferred nightly to the iTeachAZ Dashboard, which was also developed by the ITIS Office and in partnership with ASU’s University Technology Office’s Business Intelligence Group. Educators authenticate through the Professional Learning Library (PLL) to safely access the iTeachAZ Dashboard, as well as educator and instructional content hosted within the PLL, to implement the Teachers College’s triad model of coaching. This model provides all those involved in the teacher candidate’s education access to the same evaluation data to coach the student in specific areas in order to become an effective, data-driven teacher. Information available on the dashboard through pages, charts and graphs include: student enrollment status, observation and assessment measures; areas of reinforcement and refinement; cohort trends; and indicators of program fidelity. Resources from the PLL can also be recommended to the teacher candidate to assist in their development.

“The dashboard is an awesome tool that allows me to see all of my teacher candidates’ data at once,” says William Butler, an iTeachAZ site coordinator in the Roosevelt Elementary School District. “I used to have to dig for data in several different sources. Now, all the information I need is just a click away.”

App's benefits for students

The iTeachAZ Dashboard is also an active tool for the teacher candidates. Throughout the student teaching process, the dashboard can send alerts to the future teachers to increase awareness of their performance and other evaluation results that need to be addressed. For instance, if a student earns a score below the required scores for that semester, the teacher candidate will receive an alert so he or she can seek coaching, training or further guidance to work toward getting back on track.

“The dashboard is beneficial to teacher candidate achievement because it provides the opportunity for the use of data that drives individual support for each teacher candidate,” says Nicole Scales, an iTeachAZ site coordinator in the Madison Elementary School District. “The dashboard provides me with greater opportunities to support teacher candidates. It saves time, and presents important information in a safe and user-friendly way.”

The iTeachAZ app is being used in all of the teacher preparation sites this semester. A small group of university supervisors are also testing out the app this semester, with a full release scheduled for the fall of 2014.

Additional development is currently underway to improve the Teachers College’s Professional Improvement Process, a plan used to provide additional support and guidance for teacher candidates. A new section of the mobile application will bring multiple electronic files used in the process into the mobile app where the information can be stored.

Administrators involved in the process can collaborate on completed forms so that information sharing can take place. The forms will also capture digital signatures by the process committee members as well as the student. The entire process will be completed in the iTeachAZ mobile application and stored in one secure location. Once stored, the dashboard will be able to display the data for administrators. Information which was once unable to be reviewed after storage can now be evaluated to identify trends and areas for potential improvement.

“I have found that the iTeachAZ Dashboard has been very easy to use, and has made the data and information I have needed as a site supervisor much easier to access. The charts and graphs that are generated have been especially helpful to use for various presentations, and it is great having it automatically generated instead of having to take hours of my time to set them up,” says Peggy Pate, a site coordinator in the Gilbert Public School District. “It has definitely been a timesaver.”