IATEFL 2015 Through the looking-glass: creating a video-ready classroom – David Read and Will Nash

As I shall be working at the University of Sheffield over the summer, naturally I am curious as to what they are getting up to over there at the ELTC… 

It turns out this talk is part of the Learning Technologies SIG day.

At some point last year, Will and David started thinking about how they could use video for CPD and teacher training. They came up with a project and… <Insert here a very clever use of videos of them speaking, which they spoke to! Brilliant!>


Started with 30 teachers 10 years ago in one main site, now up to 100 across many sites. Multiple sites, multiple teachers, different contracts, how do we get them together for CPD? And what about CELTA and Delta? Peer observations? PO relies on giving up own time to observe others. Workshops? Getting teachers together is difficult. How can we create a classroom with video and audio enhancements that can be booked specifically for these things.

What systems could be used?

Looked at off the shelf bespoke systems to creating own system, buying software and hardware for this. There are many. David looked at 3 in particular, when he went to London.

  • Panopto

Purely software-based system. You  buy all the cameras separately. Panopto provides a service where you can upload everything. Like a youtube service for your school. A content platform. Anyone in the institute could access. Good because you can access the content easily, can be integrated with a VLE, and it is searchable as well as trackable. However, no hardware. Panopto costs £12000 per year only for the software and hardware would have to be purchased on top of this.

  • Sony Anycast

This is a hardware based solution. You purchase a laptop like device and cameras. With this you can live edit what is happening in the classroom. You can have cameras and mics in the classroom and someone can switch between cameras and audio mikes using the laptop. Very high quality again, streaming available again, and the content was accessible. Also mobile, can pick it up and take it and record someone else. BUT relies on live-editing. This isn’t practical for ELTC purposes. Again, very expensive.

  • Iris Connect

A mixture of both. Commonly used in state schools, also for ITT. Combination of hardware – cameras – and a mobile element e.g. iPads. There is also a software package that goes with it. Video is uploaded to IRIS servers, where it can be viewed and commented on etc. The equipment is very high quality, there is the ability to stream, there is the ability to share and comment (useful for CELTA/Delta). Being a ready-made system was good too. The big issue was that the content is locked down. Only the teacher who uploads it can access it by password. This didn’t fit the ELTC purposes. It’s also quite expensive – in the tens of thousands of pounds.

In the research for these bigger solutions, they found some smaller solutions:

  • Swivl 

A small, robotic device. Not too expensive (£350). It is basically a tracking device. The teacher wears a device round their neck (one comes with the Swivl when you buy it and you can also buy additional ones) and the tracker (in which you can put a mobile phone or iPad) follows this. It does not need an operator, which is useful. It can sit on a table, or a tripod. It can also be used (with an add-on) with other types of cameras. There is a microphone attached to the device that the tracker follows. Very high sound quality (where low quality is often a problem with recording in classrooms). It uses the camera and memory from the phone and the swivel system is directing where it is recording and providing the audio from the device worn by the teacher. Connect it to a computer, download the footage, upload it to youtube BUT !! unlisted. So it is not available to the public. Just as a storage system.

For peer observations, you can make it available for peers to see. The person doesn’t have to be in the classroom. David has also used it to observe a teacher for example teaching a class of muslim women who didn’t want a male in the classroom but was willing for a camera to be in there.

  • Google Glass

A pair of glasses. Enable showing the classroom from a teacher’s perspective. So you see what the teacher is seeing. (We saw an example of giving instructions, and of monitoring) Delta teachers have given them to the students to wear to see the class from a student’s perspective.

What about Web Tools?

After the video has been created, then what? They investigated tools that could be used for doing things with video.

– Video Ant: A tool for commenting on video. It allows you to annotate it and have markers where the annotations are. And you get “New annotation at ‘5.68” for example. Could be a comment or a question for the person to respond to. These annotations are shareable – for view only or for annotation as well, so people can respond.

– eduCanon: You can create different types of questions which are linked to a video. So you can add in questions at different points, that the viewer has to respond to as they watch. So the recording pauses and the questions appear and then the video continues again.

– Video in Google Forms: An additional feature where you can insert a video into a google form. E.g. with students who do presentations. You could insert the video and get them to self or peer assess it going through the questions on the form while watching. Or with CELTA trainees etc in a similar way.

-Youtube editor: Good for stitching bits of video together freely and quickly, if you want to make one video using bits of several.


Balancing out the needs of the hardware systems and the software systems. E.g. IRIS you get ease of use and quality, but no ownership. Or excellent quality vs. too high price.

Swivl and Google glass cost a lot less but the quality is sufficient for the moment.

Future plans

David and Will want to continue investigating it and use it for in-house training development. They also want to look into creating production quality video for commercial sale. There may be a gap in the market there. (Think the IH Observation DVDS etc.) They want to use this system also for standardisation of internal observations – a bank of two or three lessons to carry out standardisation for tutors who are going to go in and observe other teachers. Of course also it is bookable for self-development, teachers can privately film themselves for their own development.

To discover and understand is the university motto, this is one way for them to do this within the ELTC…

Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 21.59.37

Here  is the link to the presentation.

Wow! Again with the technology presentations where I learn all about things I didn’t know existed! 🙂



One thought on “IATEFL 2015 Through the looking-glass: creating a video-ready classroom – David Read and Will Nash

  1. Pingback: IATEFL 2015: All my posts indexed! | Reflections of an English Language Teacher

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s