A key area for schools has been responding to changes in inspection procedures, meeting requirements and planning for continued development and self-evaluation by teachers. We have been delivering a large number of training sessions on behalf of Star Lesson (www.starlesson.com) for schools that have invested in the CPD potential of teachers using video to reflect upon, evidence and share their skills.
Star Lesson was a system we introduced to our schools via the CLC at an early stage of its development It proved to be a very agile and versatile resource. Essentially, it allows the recording on multiple mobile units of lessons to a password protected area of a server. Once there, teachers can review their lessons privately for their own development. Most importantly, they can tag the video, allowing them to review and comment upon key moments by navigating directly to the tags and, if they choose to do so, to share those clips internally or by exporting them as movie files. It can also be used for live observation, thus removing the need for a physical presence in the classroom and bringing the benefits of suitably timed, evidence-based feedback and discussion. However, as with all agile devices given to teachers, Star Lesson was quickly used for wildly-differing purposes, and is often used for the routine recording of performance or presentation by students, for AfL where students use the system to review themselves, for curriculum projects involving video and for sport analysis and revision material production.
I’m currently in the middle of introducing all the staff of a large college in Essex to the system and it is very apparent how, after becoming familiar with the basic workings (Star Lesson is very straightforward in terms of operation) the staff very quickly start inventing new curriculum applications for the devices. This is particularly noticeable now that the iPod app version is available, and I wanted to share a few of the ideas.
The app turns any iOS device into a Star Lesson camera. The really interesting difference to the standard unit is that the user has a choice of whether the footage is recorded to the server (as with the normal unit) or to the device. If stored in the device, it cannot be viewed or exported until it has been uploaded to the server (an important safeguarding measure). There are two subject areas where this feature is very attractive: PE and Work Related Learning. By supplying work placement students or PE students with iPods, a visit or away match, or placement can be recorded to the iPod from multiple cameras, then uploaded to the Star Lesson server where it can be tagged and evaluated in terms of performance. Since the tagging buttons in Star Lesson can be customised, students participating in practice job interviews can analyse and hone their performance, all done safely without risk to employer or school. Finally, two Star Lesson cameras (or iPods running the app), once uploaded, will allow the production of a single, split-screen video showing the footage from both cameras side-by-side. Originally this was so that teachers could see both their own performance and the reaction of students, but this ingenious suggestion by a science teacher also illustrates perfectly why good technology in the hands of good teachers is so powerful. The plan is to film a teacher explaining an experiment with one iPod, while the second iPod records the experiment. Opening the footage in Star Lesson will display both the teacher and the experiment in split-screen, clicking export will turn it into a movie, sharing on the VLE will turn it into a fantastic resource.