I am a firm believer that video is a powerful tool in the classroom, both for the students and for the teacher. I am not talking about just watching a video for 45 minutes and hoping that the students took something away but video in the sense of how many are not using it. We can use video to share out some ideas, record an science experiment that is too dangerous to do with students or for students who were absent, using video to explain a new process or skill that the students can use it again and again or really just to see what they see while in our classes. There are a lot of ways we can use video and using it as a way to soak up a class period should not be part of that.
As teachers we can learn a lot by watching a video of ourselves teaching or of another teacher. We often forget what it is like to be a student in our own class and sometimes our view from the front can be very misleading as compared to the view from the back. I remember in my student teaching days that I had to record audio of myself teaching so that I could analyze a few items throughout a class period. Using a video playback instead would have allowed me to analyze a lot more. How much time do I spend up front versus in other parts of the room, where are my eyes focused during the lesson, how much time do I spend talking versus students spend and of course, how engaged are my students really.
We can easily use some tools to record the video in a class in a way that is unobtrusive and easy to watch or we can even use the tools that we already have. Many teachers have their laptops up front with them during a class and they could just use the build in camera to record them teaching. They could even position it on the side of the room for a larger perspective but without a wireless microphone, the audio will degrade as you move the computer farther and farther away. If you had a ton of money you could go after a pair of Google Glass to get the perspective from the teacher or a student during a lesson. I have seen many cases where a student or teacher have recorded their perspective throughout a class and it provided a very interesting video to analyze. A science teacher could easily record experiment after experiment with them so they can have those for later. There are two tools that I think can make this a whole lot easier and can provide a perspective that other tools are lacking.
Swivl is a nice little piece of technology that allows you to easily record yourself as you teach. The base station is designed to hold phones and tablets while it swivels to track your position. The use of a microphone tracker allows you to both record clear audio and have the base station know where you are. The newer model works with both tablets and phones while the first generation device only worked well with iPhones, but an iPad mini still worked when we used it.
The video is recorded along with the audio and you can upload it to the Swivl Cloud account or use it on your device. We have used it to record some teachers teaching model lessons to be shared with other teachers as well as using it to record coaching conversations for reflection between instructional coaches. The device works very well and it is like you have your own little camera person tracking you. The newer model does cost $300 but the ease of use and functionality that it has makes this a great purchase for teachers.
This is an idea I have not tested myself but have seen videos made by others. The GoPro camera is a small camera that can easily be placed in the corner of a classroom so that you can capture classroom moments without having it be a distraction. You can even use the time lapse features to create a shorter video that still shows you the entirety of a class period. Capturing clear audio will be an issue but the video will be of very high quality. You could even give it to a student so you can see the class from their perspective.
No matter what tool you use, video can provide us an opportunity to truly discuss how we are teaching and how we can improve. We, as teachers, have to be model learners which means we need to know how we are actually doing and use others to help us grow. While some people are uncomfortable recording themselves, we sometimes have to get into that uncomfortable area in order to grow.