Improving Reflective Practice with Digital Video Annotation (Mellon Project Report)

My project has involved two distinct components. First, I am integrating iPads and a newly purchased Epson Smart Board into my teaching as a way to model current and effective technology uses teaching and learning in K-12 classrooms.

I used Smart Notebook software in the summer of 2016 with the EDUC 533 class. Each Austin College student was responsible for delivering a lesson to the elementary school students they were teaching using the Epson Smart Board and a lesson they found on Smart Notebook. This was a huge success. The elementary students came to the Temple Center for the lessons. They loved coming up to the board for a variety of hands-on activities. This also provided them an opportunity to see a campus classroom and get some idea about Austin College. The AC students found lessons that worked very well with the elementary students and thoroughly enjoyed using this technology.

Additionally, I was able to use the iPad throughout the camp to take daily pictures that I could later use for debriefing the student teachers. I took action photos and then used AirDrop to show these on the screen using Apple TV. This was a fantastic way to see what happened each morning at the camp and then discuss particulars. Images were then posted on Dropbox for students to use in digital stories.

A second focus of my Mellon grant has been the use of Classroom Salon for inline digital annotation of videos, specifically, videos of student teaching. I have primarily used Salon in EDUC 475A, “The Learner, the Teacher, the Curriculum.” This course accompanies the student-teaching placement for our education students. The objectives and framework for the course are as follows:

Essential Questions:

  • What does it mean to be an effective teacher?
  • How do students best learn?

Enduring Understandings:

  • Classroom management is tied to instructional design
  • Effective instruction is student centered
  • The quality of in-class teaching is directly connected to quality lesson preparation (off stage and on stage)
  • Effective teaching results in measurable student growth
  • Effective teachers use appropriate resources to meet the needs of the learners (technology)
  • Effective teachers reflect on and for practice

Transfer Goal: Students will make decisions for teaching based on what they know about learners, learning, and state curriculum guidelines.

Classroom Salon has provided a platform to address these questions, enhanced these understandings, and achieve this goal. Students video record sessions of themselves teaching four times during the semester. Each recording is approximately twenty minutes in length. These videos are uploaded to the student’s “salon,” where they and I can digitally comment upon the video in annotations that are anchored to specific timestamps. The annotation appear in a side panel alongside the main screen with the video.

I provide the students with specific prompts to respond to, dealing with: (1) watching your students; (2) watching yourself; (3) opportunities to respond; and, (4) watching yourself and your students. This sequence of reflection points represents a developmental hierarchy as students progress in the ability to analyze their teaching. I am able to see their videos with responses on specific moments in their teaching. I also can make comments that the students see. The Classroom Salon is private to each student and me in order to build a safe environment for open, honest critique. Finally, students are asked to reflect on each lesson about such issues as:

  • What worked well?
  • What could you change?
  • How close was your lesson to the ideal on a scale of 1-7 and why?
  • What is a goal you have for yourself?
  • What have you seen as your greatest area of growth?
  • What are your strengths as a teacher?

Classroom Salon is a powerful vehicle to achieve our class objectives. I have refined the use of this application, which has recently been updated to provide an enhanced user experience. I plan to have students include these videos and annotations in their electronic portfolios. In sum, I fully believe that Classroom Salon has taken these students to much higher levels of reflective practice than would be possible without the use of the videos and digital annotations.  

Guest Post: Classroom Salon–Using Video Annotation to Reflect on Student Teaching

classroom salonLast year I read Focus on Teaching: Using Video for High-Impact Instruction, by Jim Knight, and was sold on the idea of having my student teachers record themselves in the classroom and then reflecting on the video with them. I decided to implement this strategy in my Fall 2014 course, EDUC 475, “The Learner, The Teacher, and the Curriculum,” and began to explore what technology would be required. Where would students store and post their videos, and how would we engage in discussion about them in a private and secure space?

About that time I talked to Mo Pelzel, AC Digital Pedagogy Designer, who told me about a resource that would meet my needs. Classroom Salon is a web-based document and video annotation platform. Learning spaces, called “salons,” can be set up for individuals or groups of students to access, annotate, and discuss written documents as well as videos. For this class, students each have their own private salon. They post videos of their teaching that only the two of us can see. This means that they feel very safe in the learning process. I provided them with four sets of prompts to guide them in their video analysis. Students examine themselves, their students, teacher-student interactions, and pedagogical strategies. The ability to comment upon the video at specific points in the timeline makes possible a deep level of reflection and metacognition. As I watch the videos I type in my comments. The students also can see exactly where my comments are in the video. These can then become talking points as we discuss their growth as teachers.

The result is that I have seen students that are empowered to look at their work and make instructional decisions based on their analysis. They are taking ownership of their growth and development as teachers. Classroom Salon was a very helpful tool for me and my students, and I will utilize it again this semester. Several of my colleagues are following suit. I will also continue to collect data to better understand the efficacy of this approach and fully expect to share my findings at a conference on teaching.