Video capture technology a crucial part of professional development in Georgia district

A recording solution from Audio Enhancement leads to increased educator effectiveness at Newton County Public Schools
By: | March 3, 2015

At the 19,700-student Newton County Public Schools in Georgia, administrators established a goal of improving the quality of teaching in the spring of 2012. According to Gary Shattuck, director of technology and media services, the best way to do that was to take inspiration from the sports world, where athletes watch video recordings of themselves to improve their form.

“Teachers really cannot know how they look and present themselves until they see themselves on video,” says Shattuck.

While improving standardized test scores was part of the motivation to boost teachers’ skills, it was only a minor consideration. “If we want to get the best out of our students, ensure that they graduate and succeed, we need to provide them with the best teachers,” says Shattuck. “We believe the quality of teaching impacts student success more than anything else we can do in our district.”

The team at Audio Enhancement, a provider of research-driven video, audio and instructional solutions, approached district leaders about piloting VIEWpath to help the district achieve their goal.
VIEWpath is a user-friendly, high-powered video recording system that enables robust capturing of audio and extensive sharing and storing of content. The tool was piloted in two classrooms in spring 2012. Desired results were achieved, and the system was installed in 20 high school classrooms that fall. And by the end of the summer 2015, every classroom will have a camera.

“We are so pleased with VIEWpath,” says Shattuck. “No other manufacturer is doing classroom capture the way that Audio Enhancement is.”

An unexpected benefit was the impact on safety that VIEWpath made. “We now have a better awareness of anyone who may not be authorized to be in a building, and we can pinpoint exactly which classroom they may go to and when,” says Shattuck.

In addition, disruptive students are becoming less of a problem with the presence of video capture. “Teachers are better able to discipline students, and a study we did showed the number of discipline referrals dropped by 18 percent since the installation of VIEWpath,” says Shattuck.

To assure teacher buy-in and to make sure the cameras are properly used, a six-month professional development curriculum is conducted with a team of eight to 15 educators in each school building.

“They are instructed on turning the camera on and off, how to schedule a recording, how to tilt and zoom, and the pedagogy behind using cameras in the classroom,” says Shattuck. “These teachers then train the rest of the teachers in their building.”

VIEWpath also facilitates greater collaboration among educators. If one teacher has an example of a good lesson on geology, for example, he or she can share it with colleagues so others can be inspired and pick up helpful tips for successfully delivering their own lessons.

Students now stay much more engaged because teachers are more cognizant of their teaching practices, says Shattuck. Absenteeism is also less of an issue. “Teachers have been posting their recordings on their websites so students can watch the video at home if they miss class.”

And for students who may not fully understand a concept in class, the recording is there for them, too. “It is exciting because not all students are ready in the classroom and may need to rewatch a lesson at home. We finally have a way to reach students when they are ready to learn.”

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