There are almost always two sides to technology. In a post from a few months ago I cast a rather negative viewpoint on the use of cameras, in this case teacher body mounted cameras, in the classroom (You can read the post here). I didn’t, and still don’t, like the idea of cameras for the purpose of policing poor behaviour. The need for cameras for this purpose says a lot for the culture and climate in classrooms, which is unlikely to be conducive of learning, with or without body cameras.
This got me thinking of what the other side, the positive side, of cameras in classrooms might be. A quick review of various articles I have read led me to come across a post in the Telegraph which discussed the introduction of meditation in class however within the content the plan to introduce cameras into “experimental” classrooms to aid in professional development was raised. You can read the article here.
I came across this idea of using cameras for PD some years ago and I liked it. The idea is that cameras are installed in classroom with a clear purpose of allowing teachers to review their own teaching in a bid to bring about improvement. Teachers can therefore review their lessons via video footage to identify areas which went well and areas which went less well. While in the UAE I made use of video footage with teachers as part of a programme of professional development. Video provides an un-biased and accurate recording of the lesson whereas our memories of a lesson do not. The actual act of first reviewing the lesson from memory and then watching a video of it can be quite informative in showing the errors which creep into our recollection of events. Quite often the video brought things to light that either the teacher hadn’t noticed or just hadn’t considered during the busy and complex process of teaching a class. If the teacher wished they could then share the video with colleagues so that they could work together to review the lesson and discuss alternative approaches and ideas. The whole approach is built around wanting to improve the quality of teaching and learning using technology and cameras as a tool to aid in this. It is also clearly stated where cameras are used that the cameras are not used for the purposes of appraisal, performance management or any monitoring purpose. The cameras are all about improving teaching and the footage is belongs to teacher. This is important in making the teachers feel safe in the use of cameras in classrooms.
Technology is just a tool which is neither good or bad. It is our use of that tool which is positive or negative in nature. Using cameras in class for Professional Development is just one, in my view, positive approach to using technology.