Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lloyd's Video Analysis Tool, Part 1

One of my favorite sayings these days when I talk about teaching and technology is "video is the new PowerPoint." That is, the ability to create and use video for teaching is about as easy as it was to first start using PowerPoint when it became available back in 1990. In fact, given how long PowerPoint has been around, it's hard to remember that it too had a learning curve like any other software tool. Similarly, the ability to create, edit, and -- most important -- distribute video has become very routine for many teachers. I do think that the ease of distribution, thanks mostly to YouTube, has been the true game changer. After all, we've had the ability to easily create and edit homemade videos for many years, but the tough nut to crack was how to share the video with others.

Video has also become an increasingly popular tool and approach over the past 20 years or so for educational researchers. It's very difficult to observe and notice the rich and complex information within a classroom or other learning environment in real time. Recording the event to review later when there is enough time -- and the opportunity to rewind -- makes a lot of sense. Video has also become an excellent way for teachers to reflect and get feedback on ways to improve their teaching. Video recordings of one's teaching are also becoming a requirement or condition for certification in many states, especially with the advent of edTPA. These teacher certification requirements have been the source of many conversations between myself and teacher education faculty at the University of Georgia. Many of these faculty not only want to learn how to meet the requirements of edTPA, but also how to use video as the means of providing formative feedback to pre-service teachers. These conversations inevitably end with the question "Is there a video analysis tool out there we can use to give our candidates quick and useful feedback on their teaching?"

Fortunately, there is a commercial tool available that is also very affordable. The product is called VideoWurks and it is produced by a company named Instructive Insight. The tool was originally created at the University of Georgia under the leadership of Dr. Art Recesso. I highly recommend taking a look at this tool. I think many teacher educators will find it meets their needs quite well. I also just learned from the Chronicle of Higher Education's Profhacker blog of a new online tool called VidBolt that allows you to annotate videos on the fly with some very cool community features.

But, I have found few other video analysis tools for educational purposes available (my google search did find some for analyzing sports-related activities, such as baseball and golf swing analyzers). So, I have begun to create my own video analysis tool with LiveCode. Before starting this project, I had only explored a minimal amount of LiveCode's ability to work with video. So, I think this is a perfect project for learning more.

I have invested about seven hours in the prototype so far, with -- believe it or not -- three of these devoted to graphic design and interface design. (Despite what the design literature says and my own experience, it always surprises me how much time is devoted to user design issues.) Here is a YouTube demonstration of the current prototype:

I'm sure you are thinking, "Man, this prototype has a long way to go!" Well yes, yes it does! You might also doubt that I've spent three hours on its graphic/interface design. So, for comparison purposes,  here is a screen shot of the very first version of this prototype:

See what I mean?

I'm particularly interested in designing this tool to be very simple to use, to the point of using technologies or strategies that might be considered out-of-date. For example, I have this idea that it would be great to have the output of the video analysis be a simple text file that could be easily shared between candidate and professor, something each could even send to the other within the body of an email. (I don't know about you, but I have found myself organizing and archiving my professional "life" with email, particularly in my ability to search for past emails of important events and activities.) If you've read any of my other posts, you know I'm also very fond of off-loading difficult tasks to other applications whenever possible, such as Excel. So, my design here is again based on creating a comma-delimited text field with all of the time code, tags, and comments for each of the video log entries for each sharing and importing within tools like Excel.

I hope this post gave you a good overview of the project at its earliest point. I'm deliberately not giving any attention to LiveCode here, but instead I will be writing many more posts, each with a focus on some interesting LiveCode programming detail, all in the spirit of helping others begin their own video projects.

Postscript: People have asked me to explain a bit about the video I used in my prototype. This video is a short "mash-up" of video snippets from my MOOC "Statistics in Education for Mere Mortals" offered by The current course section is about to end, but I plan to offer it again with a starting date tentatively set for July 7, 2014. And, you can access all of the course videos on YouTube - here is a link to the playlist (the mash-up is the first in the list).


  1. This is a great project. Question: given that LiveCode can publish an iPad app, would it be possible for a teacher in the field to record video using an iPad, then analyze the video on that iPad? And then pass along the analysis and/or the video with markup to appropriate agencies for certification?


    Elizabeth Dalton
    Granite State College

  2. Hi Elizabeth,

    Thank you for your comment and question. The answer is a resounding "Absolutely, yes!" I definitely have an eye toward producing an iPad app eventually for this project. As you point out, an iPad is a great video production tool, so having a simple, inexpensive video analysis tool app for teachers and teacher candidates to use would be great. The question of how to "deliver" such an analysis to a supervising teacher or certification agency is an interesting design question. At this point, I'm envisioning the student sending a simple text file containing the analysis to a university supervisor who also has the app. Then, the supervisor merely has to copy and paste the file into the app. Of course, the student would also have to deliver the video to the supervisor in some way, though it could be stored on some secure sever with the URL given to the supervisor.

    For a certification agency, I'm not sure what would be best given that they certainly would not have or want the app. I think it would be relatively easy for the app to generate a simple text report of some sort that could accompany the video, though it would not be integrated into the video. Lots to think about on this design issue.

    I hope you enjoying spring in New Hampshire.

    Best wishes - Lloyd