Karl Kosko, Associate Professor, Kent State University
In the spring of 2018, I began recording and studying the use of 360 video for mathematics teacher education with my colleague Rick Ferdig. Following a pilot study, we were fortunate to receive funding from NSF to explore the potential of this medium to facilitate teachers’ professional knowledge and noticing. When I mention 360 video to colleagues, it is often confused as just another Swivl camera – it’s not. Swivl cameras are regular videos created by tracking an individual (or specific individuals) around the classroom. 360 video doesn’t track – it records everything omnidirectionally. It creates a spherical recording such that the viewer chooses which direction to look when watching a recording of a classroom lesson. This affordance gives future teachers the freedom to look anywhere. If the 360 camera is placed between two different groups of students exploring and discussing a mathematics task, one preservice teacher may watch the group on the left more than the one on the right, and another may watch the group on the right more. If we record a classroom with several 360 cameras, we can create a multi-perspective 360 video that allows viewers to “move” from one point in a classroom to another. By increasing the degree of autonomy in where a teacher can “look” in the recorded classroom, some may fear that this large amount of autonomy may be overwhelming to the novice teacher. We argue it is less overwhelming than having such autonomy when entering their first classroom in the role of a preservice teacher. Further, results from our own research suggests teachers are actually more focused in how they describe students’ actions when watching more immersive media. Notably, teachers often don’t watch the same students at the same times or for the same durations. However, their patterns in viewing are similar when the teacher focuses more on students’ reasoning.
The single greatest advantage of 360 video is that it better approximates the perceptual experience of being in a classroom – what we refer to as a medium’s perceptual capacity. We believe this can actually lessen the cognitive load in observing students’ reasoning because it removes the unrealistic demand on the teacher that they would only look and listen in a single direction while teaching in the classroom. The increased autonomy in teachers’ viewing does require that teacher educators adjust discussions of what and how preservice teachers notice when watching a 360 video. In my own use, I’ve found it more useful to discuss the concepts students are learning and ask about what different teachers observed. This requires a more open dialogue acknowledging that each of us may have observed different things because we actually were in different parts of the classroom at a given time (viewing from different camera positions and looking in different directions). It breaks the mold of discussion that can sometimes surround standard video where everyone sees the same thing. As such, it decenters the teacher educator as the sole authority and provides more agency for preservice teachers as emerging professionals. This sort of change can be a challenge for many teacher educators. Personally, I’ve found it helpful to think of it as if you had gone on a field trip into a classroom and you and your preservice teachers observed students therein. Naturally, you would be standing at different locations and may look at different students. Discussion afterwards would need to take this into account – you could not focus on what the teacher educator alone saw but would need to focus on a large concept for productive discourse about pedagogy to emerge. This is how to approach using 360 video with teachers. It is simultaneously the greatest advantage and the most challenging feature to contend. However, if we wish to better prepare our future teachers, I believe 360 video should be included amongst the many useful representations of practice used in our field.
If you are interested in learning more about 360 video and would like to explore their potential, please feel free to visit the links below. The 360 videos shared are available for your use in your methods courses.
- Website: https://xr.kent.edu
- Praxi 360 Viewing platform: https://praxi.guans.cs.kent.edu (Beta version). It includes a multi-perspective 360 video for guests to explore (and see the current reporting features under “Watch Summary”
- Website library: https://xr.kent.edu/videos-2/. It includes additional resources not embedded in our YouTube Channel hosted videos.
- XRi YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdNBPA9vZJlP5DO9KswP0iQ/videos, which has a growing library of single-perspective 360 video.