Canned Camera

Mike Petrilli points out the growing attention to using video in education and channels James Q. Wilson’s smart lessons.   But Petrilli doesn’t really differentiate between whether video in schools should be used for accountability, improvement, or both.  And that’s a key question.

If the purpose is merely accountability then there are less expensive ways to achieve that necessary goal. The real promise, it seems to me, is using video (and ideally interactive simulations) to train new teachers and help those on the job improve through coaching based on actual performance.  That requires a set of investments not only in the technology itself but the supports to use it.   But if you look at a variety of endeavors from training fighter pilots to professional athletes and a host of more commonplace professions in between this is not a great unknown, our field is just late to it.  There are some companies in this space right now and expect more interest as the demand for observational tools and better training increases.

7 Replies to “Canned Camera”

  1. Video for evaluation is problematical, while video for improvements makes great sense. It makes no sense to sacrifice a valuable tool, by attaching stakes to it.

  2. There is already lots at stake with every lesson. Using video isn’t attaching stakes; it is acknowledging them. There seems little difference between the idea of improvement and evaluation–we improve through constructive evaluation. If we want great teachers, we have to be willing to open and honest about what happens in the classroom. I, for one, am ready for my close-up.

  3. I have been teaching in a school for 15 years with cameras and have had the Principal sitting at the main control station watching the teachers. I believe this gives a truer feedback to the Principal how well a teacher is doing as there is no pressure from them being in the room and a Teacher can relax and do as they normally do, teach. After a while teachers and students forget about the cameras and go on normally, which is really what a Principal wants, to see how a teacher works in their classroom when no one “watching”. I work at a behavior alternative school so cameras also provide another layer of safety and we have video evidence of an incident to show to the parents. Amazing how many times a student says “it wasn’t me” and then we show the irate parent the video and that angry no longer directed at school or teacher.

  4. My school has about 500 video cameras scattered throughout every hallway and around the perimeter of the building but none in the classroom. I’ve always throught that was a bit strange.

    I don’t think video cameras in the classroom is really much different from the open design schools that used to be popular in the 70s. My old HS in Oregon which I attended in the early 80s had classooms organized around central courtyards with glass walls facing the interior courtyards so an administrator or anyone else could sit at a table in the courtyard and observe what was happening in 6 different classrooms.

    I actually think it would be a good discipline and classroom management tool if kids knew they were on camera and being taped. It would also be a good learning tool for teachers as we rarely ever have the chance to observe how other teachers work with students.

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