What are the video annotation tools that teachers use to record, annotate, and reflect on their own teaching practices? Despite extensive use of video analysis programs for research purposes, few tools have been applied to support student teachers’ reflective practices in higher education settings. A recent study contrasted emerging video annotation tools used by teacher education programs in the U.S. The selection criteria included the video annotation function, the availability of the tool during the time of the study, and compatibility with teacher self-evaluation.

The authors identified and analyzed seven tools:

  • VAST, developed at Northwestern University for mathematics and science teacher education.
  • VITAL, created by Columbia University’s Center for New Media Teaching and Learning to encourage thinking through essay writing based on depicted video moments.
  • VAT, a web-based system owned by University of Georgia for teachers to upload, archive, segment, annotate, and share videos in their university courses.
  • Video Traces, software used by the University of Washington as a tool for student teachers to receive feedback.
  • VideoPaper, funded by the National Science Foundation, allows users to add comments or images to a specific portion of video.
  • MediaNotes developed at Brigham Young University for teachers to create annotations by naming, segmenting, commenting, and tagging a video component.
  • StudioCode, used by Pennsylvania State University and Brigham Young University to conduct video analysis and teach student teachers about observation.

The findings revealed that the identified tools share similar educational purposes. For example, VAST, VAT, and MediaNotes helped teachers to pay attention to specific moments in the classroom and VITAL focused on essay writing to help teachers analyze and reflect on their own teaching. In each case, teachers were guided to examine their own classroom practices via various video annotation functions. In addition, VAT, MediaNotes, Video Traces, and StudioCode had features facilitating collaborative analysis, while the others focused on individual reflections. Other technical differences include that while VAT and VITAL were web-based tools, the rest were computer-based. The authors asserted that the latter might have limitations for future usage.

Four out of the seven tools included the study are currently unavailable on the relevant university websites upon the writing of this article. The short-lived reality of the tools, though proven to be effective in the literature for cultivating teachers’ reflective practices, might be caused by variations in their levels of sophistication and ease of use. In an era of accountability, requiring videotaped lessons for teacher certification has been adopted by most states in the U.S. Video annotation technologies have the potential to grow in scope and quality and could complement current teaching and learning in higher education institutions. More experiments are needed before we will achieve suitable interface designs and functionality to sustain teachers’ usage of video-based reflection.

Rich, P. J., & Hannafin, M. (2014). Video annotation tools: Technologies to scaffold, structure, and transform teacher reflection. Journal of Teacher Education, 60(1), 52-67.

Image: i-theatreannotate by erik lint via Flickr