Caroline Massey
Caroline Massey has worked in ELT for over ten years as a teacher... read more

A groundbreaking video observation tool with great potential for the language-learning classroom.

Who it’s for:
Free (trial), £10-£15 per user/y, Teacher £0.49 per student/m
Website Windows Mac iOS

Record, watch and tag videos of your lessons. Use VEO to identify and share what works in your classroom and to learn from what other teachers are doing. VEO’s adaptive tagging system helps you take control of classroom observations and make them work for you.

User experience.

To use VEO, all you need is access to the main portal and a device to record your videos; you can get a free demo from the website. The accompanying app allows you to tag videos as you record them (which also requires a Wi-Fi connection), and you can use the app to review videos and access the main portal. You can upload video to the portal from any device and tag it retrospectively. Both the website and app are really easy to navigate and there is fantastic customer support available to get you started.

Language level and skills.

VEO allows you, as a teacher, to break away from a more traditional, paper-based, top-down approach to observations. The portal provides secure online portfolios for your videos and you can choose which ones you want to share with colleagues by adding to a bank of tagged examples of good practice. But it doesn’t end there; VEO can also be used directly with and between learners to highlight their skills and use these as a basis for modelling, reflection and development.

The tags you add are completely editable; you decide the key areas to focus on. Each tag can be divided into sub-tags so, for instance if you want to tag questioning in a lesson, you might tag different types of question: closed question, open question, elicitation. When you tag video, you can select + or - for each sub-tag to identify strengths and areas that need work.

As well as tags, you have the opportunity to record learner engagement and time spent on the different phases of the lesson. So, a teacher trying to move away from a teacher-centred approach may aim to reduce the amount of time spent on presenting language; disengaged learners could be given targets to help them stay on task for a greater proportion of class time.

Tracking learning.

The real beauty of VEO is that it allows you to take ownership of your own development. Observation feedback can become more interactive and less daunting, as you can choose to share and discuss examples of good practice and areas for development in relation to the video recording. New teachers joining an institution could use an existing bank of videos to identify expected standards and key areas to focus on as they develop in their careers.

VEO encourages critical analysis of your own and others’ performance. Tagging really focuses this reflection process and makes you think about how you could improve things next time.

Sometimes it’s easy to overlook certain aspects of an observed lesson while focusing on others. Having the ability to review and re-tag videos helps to overcome this in a way that is not possible with more traditional methods, for example if you combine content and language teaching, you could tag specifically for language-learning criteria.

You may choose to record and tag a whole session or just specific parts of it. However, for VEO to be used to its full potential and become part of everyday practice, ‘little and often’ is a good approach to take. Choose an area where you’d like to improve and use just a few tags or sub-tags to focus in on that skill. For example, if you want to ask more questions and increase opportunities for learner talk you could record and tag one lesson for closed/open questions and elicitation – to see how you’re doing now and to set yourself a goal. You could then record and tag a lesson two weeks later to see how you’re progressing.

Social interaction.

With VEO, observation is a much more collaborative process. As a busy teacher, you can get flexible access to your colleagues’ classrooms and work together to share best practice or explore how to reach a shared goal. It’s also possible for institutions to join together – the global reach of VEO is unlimited so it provides exciting possibilities for teachers in remote areas.

Supporting teaching and learning.

You can also use VEO with learners to collect evidence for formative assessment and, if they have their own accounts, learners can track their own progress through self- and peer-assessment of their work. Learning can be extended outside the classroom if learners maintain contact by uploading video, and tagging and commenting on their classmates’ work.

If you can see it or hear it, you – and your learners – can tag it! Together, you can create a catalogue of learner practice which they can review at any time after the lesson has taken place. Teachers can also access this to standardise and moderate their expectations of learners.

More and more, teachers and learners are becoming comfortable with the use of video in the classroom. Because you can use any device to record the content, there is no need for a big camera, and it’s easy to collect direct, informal feedback from learners as they are working in class.

Technical: user safety and data security.

VEO uses a leading web service provider, Amazon Web Services (AWS), to store all encrypted video and data. All videos are private within your personal profile until you choose to upload them to a shared bank or give other users permission to see them.

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