“We needed to expand significantly without sacrificing quality, accuracy, or speed of delivery, and all of that content had to be accessible to as many people as possible. Rev was the only partner we could do that with.”
Teachers faced an unprecedented challenge: how to adapt to an online learning environment unfamiliar to both instructors and students.
As lockdown lingered through the Easter holiday and it became painfully clear that schools would not reopen anytime soon, the volunteers behind what would become Oak National Academy started a text chain to answer one, pressing question: how can we help support British teachers quickly transition to virtual learning?
Within only 10 days of those first messages, Oak National Academy launched, giving British teachers a platform with 200 lessons per week, covering core subjects for students ages 4 to 15. The platform can be accessed from a computer, a mobile device, or even a video game console, like Xbox or PlayStation.
Thanks to the work of hundreds of volunteer teachers who record their lessons, Oak National Academy has exploded in a matter of months. The organization has secured funding from Britain’s Department of Education and become an invaluable resource for British teachers.
Since its launch on April 20, 2020, Oak has delivered 20 million lessons, reaching 4.7 million users, with 344 years’ worth of video lessons watched and 71 million quiz questions answered.
In September, Oak launched its new Teacher Hub, an incredible undertaking that provides educators with 10,000 pre-recorded lessons for the Fall 2020 Term. These lessons are all free to use, with downloadable and editable resources for teachers, parents, and students, to ensure that no child misses important learning opportunities due to COVID-19.
“This little idea grew from teachers talking about how they could support one another to an incredible movement,” said Jonathan Dando, Oak National Academy’s Director of External Relations.
“From the very start, we all shared a passion: ensuring that education isn’t limited by a person’s background, whether that be economic disadvantage or a disability,” Dando said. “That’s why it’s super-important to us to have accessibility at the heart of everything we do, and that requires captioning.”
Captioning helps Oak National Academy’s content reach as many students as possible, regardless of disabilities, native language, or immediate surroundings. It also helps make the content more engaging.
“Our lessons are pre-recorded, so teachers don’t have the same interaction with pupils that they would in a classroom. A teacher in a classroom would know their students and be able to give them individual attention,” said Dando. “But you can’t do that with pre-recorded video. That’s why captioning is super important to us.”
The quality of those captions is equally important, Dando explained. And that’s why Oak National Academy chose Rev to caption their thousands of hours of video lessons.
“This only works if the content is high-quality across the board,” he said. “If the quality of our content is poor, be it the captioning or the lesson itself, then we’ll lose teachers, children, and parents straight away — they won’t come back. And that’s a problem for us, because that’s how we make sure children learn.”
The Oak platform is designed for return visits to support ongoing learning, and accessible video content with accurate captions makes students more likely to return.
“A student isn’t going to learn a great deal if they only complete one lesson,” Dando said. “But if they come back and take lessons again and again and again — that's how we can truly support their learning during lockdown. Having a partner we knew could deliver really high quality captioning was extremely important, which is why we went with Rev.”
With the huge volume of both lessons and users accessing those lessons every day, Oak needed a captioning provider they could also rely on for speed and scalability.
“On a weekday during term time, we have 220,000 users on the site every day,” Dando said. “Therefore, the accuracy, speed, and scalability of our captions is super important. And Rev can do all of those things for us. There wasn't another platform or service that could have done that, particularly not with turnaround times. It's incredible.”
While British school doors may be open again, teachers are still faced with many challenges. They need to keep students — and themselves — safe, and they need to have a backup plan in the event of another lockdown.
Thanks to the hard work of more than 300 teachers, Oak’s Teacher Hub gives educators flexible supplementary learning content that can be delivered in a variety of methods and manners.
“We see ourselves as a contingency plan for any school,” Dando said. “It needs to be easy for a teacher to switch from in-school teaching to remote teaching.”
Oak National Academy’s new content library will provide teachers more flexibility and time to plan out their lesson schedule. It’s for this reason that Oak National Academy submitted one bulk upload of 7,500 video lessons for captioning — about 80% of Oak’s 2020-2021 library. Rev captioned all of that content — nearly 2,600 hours worth — in four days.
“We needed to expand significantly without sacrificing quality, accuracy, or speed of delivery,” Dando said. “And all of that content had to be accessible to as many people as possible. Rev was the only partner we could do that with.”