Find the nerdy details you are pondering about the app here. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any to add.
1. Why should I sign up? What’s in it for users?
There are 4 benefits for Teacher Tappers:
- Get your voice heard: teacher opinions are too often unknown and therefore easily ignored
- Stay up-to-date: questions reflect current news and trends so it’s a quick way to stay on top of the latest education ideas
- Discuss questions with colleagues: they are great CPD starters
- Minimal time & effort: it takes 10 seconds a day and makes you (and schools) smarter
2. Why did you build Teacher Tapp?
We want to change the face of education research by learning key things about teachers that so far no one knows, and share those findings with policymakers, school leaders, teacher trainers and other education organisations so they are smarter when making decisions.
3. I love the idea – how can I participate in even more Teacher Tapp stuff?
This is great news! If you love Teacher Tapp please do:
- Read and share our weekly blogs detailing the lessons learned
- Tweet your love of Teacher Tapp. Or put it on Facebook!
- Get all of your colleagues to sign up
- Share the questions in staffrooms and over lunch
- Running an NQT session? Make trainees download Teacher Tapp and use the questions as a starter each week
4. How do I use Teacher Tapp?
After downloading the app, put it on your homepage and click to allow notifications. Each day, at around 3.30pm, you will be notified there are new questions to answer. Open the app and start tapping. That’s it.
5. I am not getting my daily notification of questions. What should I do?
Check your settings for notifications and ensure they are switched on for the Teacher Tapp app. You should receive a notification each day at around 3.30pm telling you the questions are updated.
6. There seems to be a technical fault on the app
The app may occasionally freeze. If this happens please hard close the app and restart it. This normally sorts any problems (including the screen showing ‘no results’ if you ever get to the end of all the extra questions).
7. Who counts as a ‘teacher’?
Anyone can sign up to Teacher Tapp but the questions are focused on school issues, so you won’t be able to answer lots of them honestly if you do not teach in a school for 5-18 year olds. Also, while teachers in FE colleges, early years, overseas, etc, can join the app, their data will be stripped out of the results. As Teacher Tapp gets smarter, we may add in ways for these groups to take part.
8. Who owns the information gathered in the app?
All information is held by Teacher Tapp, which is owned by Education Intelligence Limited – a company created by Becky and Laura. As the owners we have to be responsible for making sure it is looked after. We promise not to sell your personal data.
9. Is my information private?
Our systems are designed to encrypt and separate identifying information from answers to questions. We will never release school-level data, nor your personal data. For the past decade Becky has worked on some of the most sensitive databases in the country (including the National Pupil Database), so is well-versed in the issues surrounding safe use of large datasets, and Alex (our Chief Technical Officer) worked for 9 years in database development for a telecoms company before he was a teacher, so he knows his stuff too.
10. How do you make money?
The app was created using a grant from The Gatsby Foundation and Nesta. It was originally an experiment, which we did in our spare time, and it took a lot of it! The experiment has proved a success and since we hit the 2,000 daily users mark education organisations have increasingly approached us about how they can ask questions or get analysis of past responses. To do this, we need to make the model sustainable (so we can pay people to manage the app, the questions and the data) so we are charging organisations to ask questions and for aggregate analysis. However, we will not sell to any third party your personal data, contact details, school-level data, or data that gives away your identity.
11. Does this mean you will start asking me about my favourite brand of toothpaste?
In short: no. We are education nerds interested in finding out the answers to questions that give insight into teachers professional lives. Our questions are therefore precious to us. There are only 3 new ones each day. We will only accept questions that we feel have value for teachers, will teach us something interesting, and are education-focused. This doesn’t mean we will never ask frivolous questions. We once asked about tea and coffee drinking, for example. (Coffee drinkers edged it by 1% – oh, the humanity). But this was in response to teachers asking us on social media and we value questions that get teachers discussing things in their staffrooms. After all, we’ve learned that teacher socialising is important…
12. Will I know if an organisation has commissioned Teacher Tapp to ask a specific question?
No. Firstly, if we said in advance who commissioned the topic of a question it could introduce bias to the results. But, secondly, and more importantly, we are in control of the questions that come onto the main app and we only ask questions that we feel are fair, which are genuinely seeking to find the answer (not a pre-defined answer), and that meet our editorial beliefs around the usefulness of questions. We do not engage in push polling.
13. How will you limit ‘poll trolling’? (i.e. a campaign group signing up lots of fake accounts to skew the figures)
Each phone can only have one log-in so this puts a barrier up straight away. An organisation would need to have a lot of spare phones on the go to make it work! We are also able to look at the sign-up information and the answers to questions, and decide whether or not to keep data within an analysis.
We are aware this may not be enough of a safeguard. In future we may need to add a confirmation link at sign-up. This is one of the things we want to beta-test in the coming months.
14. Do you verify that I am a school employee on sign-up?
No. Not every teacher is employed at a school – some work as supply teachers and so are employed by agencies. And not every teacher has qualified teacher status – some of our teachers are unqualified trainees on school direct, others are unqualified and not on teacher training routes – making verification through that route tricky too.
Instead, on sign-up, teachers manually write in the name and postcode of their school, and then we run a check that these are consistent. We also periodically ask question to see if answers are clashing with answers and therefore signifying an unlikely teacher. We are able to treat someone as ‘not a teacher’ and remove them from the results. Some people also sign up with a non-teacher status (and don’t count in results).
We are always open to improving this system. If you have any ideas for how to do without making the sign-up onerous or giving away masses of personal data. If you have suggestions, do let us know via email@example.com
15. How many users do you need before you can make conclusions about people’s opinions?
There is no straightforward answer to this question. It depends on what we are asking and seeking to find. If we ask 1000 random teachers their opinion on a policy, then as long as all want is the random opinion of 1000 teachers, we will have an answer that reflects the views of the profession. It won’t be a very accurate answer if we only ask 1000 primary teachers, or 1000 male teachers, as that isn’t representative of the workforce. So we periodically check behind-the-scenes to see how representative our tappsters are of the overall workforce compared to the workforce census.
We can apply post-stratification weights to analyses to make sure the panel is representative of the teaching population, at least in terms of the characteristics we can easily measure (i.e. school region, type and pupil demographics; teacher age, gender and seniority). This is the sort of thing we do for researchers or organisations looking to get more detailed analysis, similar to what we provide each week in our open-access blogs.
16. Why do you want to know what school I work in?
Knowing your school helps us in two ways. First, it means we don’t need to ask you lots of questions about the type of school you work in. We can look up your school’s location, institutional type, governance, performance and inspection rating in administrative data. Second, it helps us to see whether the teachers who are joining Teacher Tapp are representative of teachers across the country. We realise that this information is highly sensitive – your school name is never held in our database alongside any of your responses and we won’t name schools or pass your personal information back to your employer. You can read more about this here.
17. Where do you get all your questions from?
Before we launched Teacher Tapp we compiled over 500 questions from a number of sources:
- We had some questions that we had asked teachers in past research studies
- We took lots of standard questions on personal background, attitudes and well-being from the major UK social surveys
- We asked researchers of teacher careers around the world whether we could have the surveys they had used.
But we also want our panel to be asked questions that are topical or even just-for-fun. So each week we make up a few extra questions based on what politicians have been saying and what things teachers are talking about on twitter. If you have a question you think teachers would enjoy answering then leave it here.
We also allow organisations to commission questions, and we freely provide questions and analysis to masters and PhD students where their needs to fit with our users’ interests.
18. Why can’t you make the data freely available for us all to play with?
Making social survey datasets publicly available isn’t always straightforward. It isn’t enough to simply remove the personal contact details and school names and publish the whole lot because people would still be uniquely identifiable. For example, it might be possible to see that there is only one black male teacher in the South West region in the study. Now suppose a headteacher in the South West region sees that one of their (black male) teachers is using Teacher Tapp. The headteacher can then look up how that teachers feels about their school and their daily life.
The standard ‘fix’ for this problem (which DfE uses for pupil data, incidentally) is to ensure that no combination of responses is identifying to less than 5 individuals. However, this doesn’t work for on-going longitudinal studies because we never know what questions we might ask in the future that could lead to people being retrospectively identified in past data. For example, now suppose there are 10 black male teachers in the South West region, so we release data that reveals what these teachers think. Later, we decide to find out their ages and learn that only one is under 25 years old. Suddenly, having this new piece of information has revealed a teacher in the public data.
Those of us at Teacher Tapp have a wealth of experience in dealing with these data privacy issues and solutions, but as a tiny organisation it is going to be hard for us to work towards facilitating its wider use. Instead we will look at two options. First, organising hackathon days where people get a chance to play in the data in a secure environment where they can’t walk away with anything and we can control which data is released. Second, working with individual teachers who would like to use the data for a masters dissertation or other research to create bespoke datasets they can use. If this sounds like you then do get in touch.