Northernlands 2 - Teacher Tapp


Tom Forth interviews Laura McInerney, Founder of Teacher Tapp, and Dr Amber Walraven, Associate Professor at Radboud Academy, about the way that Teacher Tapp engages with teachers, and how the successful app is being rolled out in the Netherlands


This transcript comes from the captions associated with the video above. It is "as spoken".

So I think to start off, the best thing is if you could tell me who you are

My name is Laura McInerney and I'm the CEO of

Teacher Tapp. Fantastic and I suppose the question everyone will have

is what is Teacher Tapp?

Are you sure everyone else? I think some people will know, but

if you don't then Teacher Tapp is a survey app that surveys

teachers every day so they have it on their phone. It pings once

per day and then it gives him about 3 questions. They answer

the questions and they get to see the results of the day before

There's a little bit of gamification There's some badges available and

there's a daily read on the final page, but otherwise that's it.

It takes about a minute to minute and a half for teachers

We've now got about 9000

users every day. And the things they say they love about it is

that they enjoy answering the questions that make something

They loved seeing the answers 'cause they're often spending

lots their day on their own so they don't get to see what

happens in other classrooms. And also they really appreciate having

one thing to do today - two to three minutes that helps you get

better at their job, but isn't. You know you're not going to

have to scroll through loads and loads of social media to make it

happen. Yeah, so at the end of the day you show the

teachers who've answered questions all of the results.

And you include a link to some learning or blogs. Is that

right? Yeah, that's right. So this one blog every day. It's

just one curated and picked for you. Fantastic. In the time that

you've been running Teacher Tapp, which is a few years now, in

the UK. Which has been your favorite result? What's the

output that you've had from it That's been most exciting or

surprising or interesting? So there's a difference there there's

my favorite result. And then there's the one that had the

most surprising output, so I'll give you my most favorite

question is when we ask on New Year's Day or we asked on New

Year's Day a couple of years ago, which was imagine you're

walking down the street, and a

genie appears. You can have one

of three wishes. Would you like to have number one: total

well being for you and your

colleagues? #2 top exam results, for every child in your school

or #3 £1,000,000 in your bank. And if you ask a room full

of teachers this, you know, very few people put their hand up

for the million pound. Yeah when you ask on an app what you find

is around 75% of teachers will pick the million pound and my

cofounder professor Becky Allen who comes from an economic background

and her question was who was the 25% who didn't take the £1,000,000

in their bank. But it seems quite shocking.

So that was my favorite result. And then in terms of the impact,

we've actually had lots of different ones and things that

government ministers have talked about: big policy changes. But my

favorite was a teacher who ran up to me at a conference and said "thank

you so much for Teacher Tapp.

We took the finding that over half of schools don't have to

pay for their hot drinks to our Head Teacher as we had to pay for

tea/coffee in our staff room. We thought it was completely unfair and

we showed them that actually loads of other schools got it

for free. They gave us pretty and coffee". So somewhere out

there there's someone having a brew

on Teacher Tapp. I'm amazed, I'm amazed that you would make

teachers pay for tea and coffee, but you started this two or three

years ago. You're up to something like 10,000 teachers.

Is that about right?

Yes, there about 9000 teachers now and I have to say that I've

just noticed the date and this time three years ago I was

actually lying in hospital with sepsis nearly dying. We just

about four days earlier set up what was going to become Teacher

Tapp and then yeah my body decided to try and off me and

then when it didn't manage, the nice thing was I had a whole

summer in which I was recuperating and we were able to

plan and develop the app. So in some ways it was great.

What's next for the app? So 10,000 teachers in UK is

fantastic where are you going next and what are the challenges

with that expansion? One of the things that people

have said all along is "well can we go to other countries?" and

that would be amazing because there's a lot of questions that

we get answers to and we think, well, that's just how

teaching is. But what if actually it turns out that maths

teachers answer these questions completely differently in

another country? You can't just say then, or that's how maths

teachers are. So we've already launched. Teacher Tapp Ghana

that's piloting at the moment and is off. We also launched

Teacher Tapp Netherlands, so we've now got Dutch speakers on the

app and tweeting me in Dutch, which is amazing. It's sort of I

can never quite. It sounds a bit like Geordie half the time mixed

with some different letters, but it's amazing. So exciting to see

the questions in another language. And obviously we'd

like to do more countries and expansions in the future as well

as the fact that we're about to launch in a couple weeks time

Parent Ping, which isn't going to be something related to

parents. Now I will let slip that me and Dan developed the

very first version of Teacher Tapp.

But I know nothing about Parent Ping. I've not been

involved with it at all. What is

Parent Ping? I mean, it's very, very similar to Teacher Tapp, so

the same concept and at the moment it's just in development.

We're just starting to test it, but the aim should be that

parents will be able to do the same thing. So answer some

questions, see what other people

are saying and read something very simple, everyday.

And as a parent you know it's really difficult. You don't

always know what other people are doing, and you don't always

want to ask. You don't want to get into these kind of

competitive WhatsApp groups where you ask somebody about

what you're doing on lock down and the next thing you know,

you've got 53 pictures from somebody who's got amazing

timetables everywhere and she's

done gingerbread cookies and you know some bloke is

cooking with his kids. You just want something very simple and

that's what we're hoping that Parent Ping will be. I suppose

that's like your earlier point around teachers lying or being

sociable and saying they wouldn't take £1,000,000 when

really they would take £1,000,000, right? And probably

the public persona of parents is quite different to just trying

to make sure that their kids are out the door at half past 8.

Well, exactly and you know then there's really tricky

questions, like how much money is the tooth fairy, and I

know that sounds really simple, but you don't want to

overshoot the first time and then find out that everybody in

the other class you know wasn't giving away pound coins.

But you also don't want to be too stingy if you start asking

people that everyone's got to look as if they're giving lots

of money away. So I think there's some really interesting

tiny little things that we can work on, and they don't sound

important to begin with. But like with the tea and coffee

that can make quite a big difference to teacher moral

and well being, and that's one of the things we were.

focussed on likewise with Parent Ping you just don't know

what will make people feel better, more confident, more

interested in becoming a better parent until we start asking the

questions. Fantastic and the last thing I want to talk about

is the blog so.

The data that you collect is extremely personal, so you can't

publish the data. It's individual teachers data, but

you do publish a blog relatively often with results. What does

that involve and what kind of readership do you think you get

on that blog? So important point there - the statistics that

we we provide in the kind of the graphics and the results that

we're sharing are at that top aggregate level. So we're not

sharing individuals data.

But then what happens is so my cofounder, and actually the

person who came up with the idea initially is Professor Becky

Allen. As I said, she's an economist by background. Also an

amazing quantitative researcher. I mean, you've met her Tom, she's

amazingly impressive. And so what happens each week is Becky

looks back over what we've been learning and curates the

best findings, develops graphs and puts those findings out to

the world and has been on Mondays. It's going to be on

Tuesdays, going forwards, and those then get picked up by

journalists, by education policy

makers. We made a lot of our data initially when Covid was

happening. We made a lot of it as open as we could in terms of

those aggregate results, and that meant that decisions could

be taken at the highest level based on up-to-date information,

which otherwise just wouldn't have been available. So I have

to say the blog is very much Becky's genius and then other

people who are the geniuses that make things work in the country

tend to read it and overall the nice thing is, it means you

helping people from biscuits right through to decisions

around for instance the tuition

next year that's happening in schools. We ask questions

around that. We ask questions around when the kids should be

going back. Government doesn't always listen, but at least

we've got the data. Fantastic. Thanks very much, Laura.

So my first question for you, Amber is, can you introduce

yourself so that our audience Northernlands 2 know who you

are? I can, my name is Amber Walraven. I'm an assistant

professor at the Radboud University at the ITE of the Radboud

University called Radboud Docenten Academie or are Radbput

Teachers Academy. I teach general didactics there and I'm

also currently running research projects where we involve

Teacher Tapp. So we brought Teacher Tapp to the Netherlands

and I'm running that platform in the Netherlands at the moment

Excellent. So we spoke to Laura Teacher Tapp in the UK earlier

and she was telling us about how they have sometimes 10,000

teachers answering that

question. How many teachers do you have answering your

questions at the moment in the Netherlands? Well, we've only

been running for four weeks with a small test group, so at the

moment we have between 60 and 80

people answering. A long way to go.

After four weeks in the UK we did not

have 60 people. OK, it was still just Laura's friends really

and Becky's friend. Even with just 60 people. Have you

had any interesting results yet from Teacher Tapp? Now of course

I think every result is interesting. I look forward to

the results every day.

But I think the question we had the most

what do you call it? Response that's been given

by the largest group of people is about whether it would help

to receive a bonus to go to work in a school in part of your

town. What's the English word. It's Friday afternoon and

I'm searching for my words. Deprived? That's what I mean.

We had a sum of money. Our government said we need to do

something about our four large cities which have a teacher

shortage. Big teacher shortage. How can we get people to go to

work in our four big cities and one of our cities, Amsterdam

said "Let's give teachers a bonus" and we ask our participants

about would that bonus personally make you go and

work in such a school?

And 71% said no.

It was interesting I thought Yes, I think they have

asked some similar questions in Teacher Tapp in the UK.

Some of them are maybe a bit more capitalistic than that in

some of the answers perhaps. Well we followed up, of

course with a few days later with a question about teaching

in certain schools, does it require extra skills of

teachers, most of them said yes,

absolutely. And we also said what would be a reason for you

to go and work. And some said "I need to feel that I can

"make a difference over there."

"Plus I need smaller class size".

Excellent, yeah, I think this is these are the kind of results

that I love from the app so the government would be better

to improve the quality of the job not to pay teachers more.

Excellent, can I ask how you found out about Teacher Tapp in

the first place? How did you learn about it? On Twitter I think. I'm

a huge Twitter fan. I tweet all the time. Most people ask how I

can get any work done with the amounts of tweets. Sometimes it

turns into free work, doesn't it? That's what I find.

I'm a teacher, educator with also special profile aimed at

ICT in education. So I feel it's part of my job to be involved in

things in ICT, in education as well. So I saw it on Twitter

I think and then I started to follow and I looked

at the website and a few years ago I thought it would be great

if we could have a Dutch version. So I already contacted

Becky at that time, but I did not have the funding at that

time and when I was writing a new research proposal, I kind of

wrote Teacher Tapp in the proposal said we need to have as

a building block for our research and that's.

why we have Teacher Tapp now for at least three years in

the Netherlands? So what is the plan for Teacher Tapp in the

Netherlands? More users, I guess. More users making sure we

have... well, we aim at primary, secondary and

vocational education, and at the moment I

think we have more users in primary education. So a step would

be upping the users but also making sure we have enough users

in all of our groups. And all of our regions. And I think my most

important goal is also to find the users that are not on

Twitter. So to make sure that the people who are using it will

go to their colleagues and say please download it and use it as

well and to make sure that Teacher Tapp can become

something that they talk about during lunch everyday.

That's I think my main goal. Of course having a lot of

users is great but making sure that it helps the actual

teachers in schools is more

important. And I guess that the the primary difficulty

in just... we could not just copy the app from the UK to the

Netherlands, because the questions would all be in

English. What other challenges have there been apart from that,

or has it been quite easy?

Translating is one, but you have things like Head

Teachers and we don't have things like Head Teacher, so

it's trying to use the right concepts and then.

So it's not just about translating, it's also a

different structure in education

as well. Yes, I know that in Teacher Tapp even within the UK

they have some fun feedback because Scotland has a different

education system to England. So they ask a lot of questions and

the language is obviously understandable. But the question

is meaningless. Yes, can I ask a bit more widely about

technology in education? As part of this conference, we are

talking to a lot of people in the Netherlands, in the UK and in

the USA about how they think technology will change work, how

it will change socializing.

We have not heard anything about how people think technology will

change education. In this conference you mean or in

general... In this conference, just in this conference we are mostly

technology users and developers, not education specialists.

Yeah, well there are a lot of people that say technology will change

education in a huge way but they've been

saying that for I think about 10 years and indeed you haven't

seen a lot of big changes in actual teaching or education.

Yes, people use apps but a lot of time it's what we call

substitution. So you do on your computer, what you could also

do using a paper and a pencil, and I think that's not the way

we should look at technology in education. We should

use technology

to do things we can't do without

technology. Or to make it perhaps easier for some

teachers to provide things like feedback or formative

assessment. I think what we saw now in the last period, I think

Teacher Tapp UK ask a question a few days ago about what would

you keep from all this distant education, the upcoming year

when you go back to school, and I think the flexibility and the

individual feedback is

something that will stay. And I think because all the teachers

were forced to use technology they couldn't say no anymore.

I think we will start using

technology for purposes that go beyond what we already

did in the classroom and for

really... what's the English word... including

everyone in our classrooms? So I think that's the biggest

option right now. An upcoming option for technology, and it's

not about making it fun, it's about helping the learning and I

think we have seen now what technology, what the differences

between making it fun and using technology to help people learn?

Excellent, yeah, I think we have all learned a lot the last three

months about technology. Also I think we have learned how

many of the things don't work.

Things that we have built because we thought they might

work don't work and some things work that we didn't think would

work. Yeah, but it's often built from a designer's perspective

and not from a teaching or

learning perspective. What often happens is we have a designer

that comes up with a great tool and then say, well I have to

sign this now go and use it and then every teacher said says

"I'm not going to use it". We involve teachers before you start

designing and talk to teachers about their classroom

activities and about learning, then you can design together

with the teachers and that would

really upgrade I think. Fantastic, so last of all

Amber, if anybody is watching in the Netherlands, how can they

download Teacher Tapp and start using it? They can go to the App

Store store or Google Play and just download. There is

only one Teacher Tapp app so it's the same app as in the UK.

But if they are in Rotterdam they will get Dutch questions

and if they're in London they will get English questions.

Yes. After the update and we're waiting for the update

and it it should be in a few days next week and then from

that moment on if you say "I'm in the Netherlands" then

you get the Dutch questions.

  • Tom Forth

    Head of Data, ODI Leeds

    Tom Forth
    © Sanne Velthuis 2018

    Tom has a PhD in computational biology and now runs software and data consultancy imactivate. He is Head of Data at ODI Leeds, where he'll be happy to help you solve problems you have using data. He's particularly interested in data on housing, transport, and income inequality both within Leeds and across the UK and Europe. He blogs at and keeps a more polished internet presence at

  • Dr. Amber Walraven

    Assistant professor - Radboud Teachers Academy

    I am an assistant professor at the Radboud Teachers Academy, the university-based ITE institute. I teach general didactics and design & research.

    As a researcher I am interested in both students and teachers and how they can 'make the most' of education, teaching and learning together. What is the role of a teacher, or a student, how do their views on learning impact teaching and learning, what is the role of the curriculum? How do you help students and teachers to take a look at 'today' and use that to shape their next lesson, course, project? I firmly believe education is 'on the move' and we can improve it by asking and answering the right questions, together. I have an extra interest in the role of ict in this whole process.

    For a three year project on adaptive expertise of teachers, our research team is running the Dutch version of Teacher Tapp. My role in our research is mostly focused on Teacher Tapp.


Nothernlands 2 is a collaboration between ODI Leeds and The Kingdom of the Netherlands, the start of activity to create, support, and amplify the cultural links between The Netherlands and the North of England. It is with their generous and vigourous support, and the support of other energetic organisations, that Northernlands can be delivered.

  • Kingdom of the Netherlands