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January 5, 2021

Harvard’s Best Foot Forward Project: How does video technology impact educator effectiveness?

Best Foot Forward study by Harvard University shares how video observation is valuable for promoting educator effectivness.When it comes to using video for classroom observations, educators have had a lot of questions.

  • Does video make classroom observation and feedback processes better and more meaningful?
  • Does it make observations more cost efficient?
  • Does it help school leaders provide better support to teachers?

While many of us have formed our own answers to those questions, we haven’t really known for sure what impact video really has on educator effectiveness processes until— now.

As part of a multi-year study of over 400 educators across the country, the Best Foot Forward Project from Harvard’s Center for Education Policy Research studied educators’ experience using video technology for observation and feedback.  Specifically, they sought to determine whether or not video technology can made classroom observation processes easier to implement, less costly, more valid and reliable, and more acceptable to teachers and administrators.

Their results were  pretty remarkable. Here is just a snapshot of what they discovered:

  1. More fair & productive. Both teachers and administrators who used video felt the observation process was more fair and productive. Teachers perceived observers as being more supportive, while administrators felt that teachers were less defensive and had fewer objections to feedback.

  2. More convenient for administrator’s schedules. Though video-based observations did not necessarily save administrators time, it did allow them to conduct observations on more convenient schedules— which naturally resulted in more focused and robust feedback.

  3. Increased self-reflection. Teachers who used video became more self-reflective. They tended to rate themselves lower than teachers who did not use video, and were better able to identify opportunities for growth.

To read more about how the study was conducted and the preliminary findings, check out the first year implementation report.

The Best Foot Forward Video Observation Toolkit is also now available to help educators: 

  • Understand the value and benefits of using video technology in observation and feedback systems.
  • Leverage video technology and implement video-based observation and feedback processes.
  • Select the right audio and video technology and software platforms for their needs (we’re thrilled that Insight ADVANCEfeedback® made the list of recommended observation and feedback tools, specifically for virtual coaching!)
  • Plan ahead for certain considerations, like protecting student and teacher privacy.

Keep an eye out for their next report due out later this year, which will explore how video technology impacts student achievement.

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