The use of video surveillance and data analytics to measure business activity and performance is growing across most industries. From judging the potential of a new sports signing or analysing the customer path around a retail store or notifying security about a potential risk, video analysis plays a key role in businesses around the world. With all of these advantages in mind, business intelligence and data analytics are infiltrating the education sector with organisations applying these practices to classrooms and ensuring that each pupil is getting the best education they can.
Empowering for teachers
Miriam Greenberg, project director at Harvard’s Centre for Education Policy Research, recently highlighted the advantages that using video technology has for teacher evaluation stating that it is “more reliable, easier to do, and most importantly, more empowering for teachers.” Greenberg argues it is much easier to highlight what the teacher does best but also where they need to improve. Refining the reviewing system is key in improving the teaching standards at schools and making use of video analytic technology is a great way to do this. Another area where using technology can vastly improve the student’s focus.
Allowing students to use analytics to improve their own efforts and, in turn, improve the quality of student teacher engagement that happens in the classroom is another benefit of having analytical tools in the classroom. Hull University has seen this potential and trialled a new app called iHull to test the benefits. The aim of the app is that students can track their engagement with lectures and seminars and then allows students to see how they are spending their time. This is then compared against other students. John Hemingway, ICT Director at the university, explained how analytic tools like this enhance students’ efforts and pushes them to achieve better results.
Improved teaching and learning strategies
Analysing student behaviour and ensuring that each student in the classroom gets equal attention has always been a challenge for teachers. Spotting a student who needs extra tuition can be an issue that teachers are not always able to deal with. Again, with the use of video analysis, these issues could be a thing of the past.
Placing cameras in classrooms is not only a helpful tool for teachers to improve learning strategies, but also an effective strategy to identify poor performers. Many teachers believe that video presence in the classroom is a positive for education. The use of video cameras would be welcomed by “true educators” who want to offer students the best possible education and teaching methods.
However, despite the positive elements highlighted, there is still some speculation and reluctance to embrace this technology. A large amount of this speculation is the fear of been spied on rather than seeing the positives that the analytics can provide. Where teachers control the technology, they have control of its use.
Too much choice
There is also another problem at the other end of the scale: there is too much choice. In every sector there can be an overwhelming amount of options and products that are described as “must have” or the “leader” in their fields. Mixing these issues with an audience that is not focused on technology is a major factor into why decisions either do not get made (“if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”) or the wrong technology is put in place and resources are wasted. This is something that the producers of the products have to be aware of as well: Solutions should fit the customer’s needs, not the other way around.
EdSurge commented that at a time when the potential for technology to transform higher education has never been greater, university leaders can be increasingly sceptical of the hype surrounding “the next big thing.” This is with good reason as there is a danger that technology entrepreneurs may mislead the universities and sell solutions that they do not need.
To make the most of the potential that Edtech offers, there needs to be transparency between technology vendors and the educational end users. Video analysis can improve the education environment and provide exceptional insight for teachers to tap into in the way that most empowers them. The classroom of the future is one that combines great teaching with the power of technology to provide both students and teachers with crucial data to advance educational outcomes.