Thursday, August 12, 2010

Videotaping my classroom

It's been a while as I've been camping/out of town/packing/moving/unpacking.  That's all (well, mostly) finished now, so I'm going to try and squeeze in some more detailed responses about the challenges of minimally defined problems before school starts up again. Before I do that, though, I need some help. Hopefully there's still one or two people out there reading this. 

So because I will be conducting research and just for my own good, I'm planning on doing some serious videotaping of my classroom this year (not too much, though, as too much data can be just as useless as too little data).  Here's what I would ideally want. 

1. A camera permanently installed above every table (4 desks per table) where, with a quick click at the computer I can turn on one or all of these cameras and record video/audio.  It doesn't need to be HD or 3D, but it definitely needs to be audible and it would be really helpful if it were readable (meaning you can read what the students are writing). 

Of course I should have known that this wouldn't be as easy as just buying 4 webcams, a USB hub, some long cables, and some sort of brace to hold these in place.  I haven't actually tried this, but it seems from some reading on the interweb that this doesn't work because the software has trouble/is unable to detect multiple cameras at once.  Grrr...any advice?  Any advice that doesn't include me also buying 4 computers?  

So...I yield to the tech-guru-blog writers/readers out there for suggestions.  The prize?  I'll write up a detailed description of what I end up getting to work and, barring issues with release forms, some videos of students doing math.  Dan Meyer has no problem creating clones of himself, so this should be a piece of cake.

...which brings me to my second request.

2. Anyone have some suggestions on the easiest way to make student vidoes anonymous so that I can share work without compromising student privacy?  What I really want is for someone to write a program that will take a live action video as its input and output a cartoon version. I'd even pay for the premium version that creates corresponding cartoon voices too.  Sean Cornally created his own grading tool for standards based grading.  Can this be his next project?  Please?  Worst case, I can always blur out faces in Adobe Creative Suite, but ideally I'd like something more automated.  I guess the other option is somehow getting parents' permission to post videos of their sixth grade child on the open web.  In the end, the cartoon idea might be my best bet. 

1 comment:

  1. Fun project. You could do a lot worse than emulating Deborah Loewenberg Ball's Elementary Math Laboratory, which, as near as I can tell, doesn't videotape every student all the time. She appears to use a camera in the back in the room that covers everybody, a roving cameraman (which you wouldn't have), and, crucially, audio pickup in front of every student. She also (reportedly) does a great job capturing student work, both by scanning in their papers and by photographing the walls, which are all public workspaces.