At #TMCotham last night I delivered a very well received 5-minute presentation, all about the best investment I ever made into the teaching and learning in my department. So what was it that I spent that fateful £30 on that really changed things for us?

Amazon link to buy the glasses

What Was I Looking For?

It was about a year ago and I was looking to stock up on a few more digital cameras, because whilst it is fine and groovy to have students use their own devices to record video on; it does also flag up a few embarrassing situations when you’re trying to get that video off their device and the student’s entire photo collection is visible for a few seconds. To get around that I’ve always kept a cache of relatively inexpensive (£100) point-and-shoot cameras around, but these had been breaking and it was time to get more.

The problem is that these are actually quite a large investment of capitation if you want any more than one or two, to get five it would be the best part of £500 and the quality wouldn’t be what the students are expecting.

I’d also been waiting patiently for Google Glass to find its way to the UK. I’ve got vision with this one, imagine a future where teachers are specced out with Google Glass and student face recognition technology: imagine seeing a student in the corridor and Google Glass silently displaying an overlay of the student’s data in your eye line as you talk – the implications would be amazing!

Anyway, whilst searching Amazon for cameras I suddenly had a bright idea and searched for ‘video recording glasses’.

Amazon link to buy the glasses

I immediately bought one, getting a 16gb TF card to use with it for £35 all in. This rocked. Firstly, it’s a fifth of the price of a generic, half-decent point-and-shoot digital camera, secondly it will allow for POV recording. So they took a bit of time to come but they worked wonders when they arrived. If so then I could get five of these for the price of a single point-and-shoot!

Why Care?



As you can see from this sample recording GIF it works really well for getting a student to record and explain a sample of their work. This example is from a group project where I’ve asked the group leaders to go and interview the members of the group to explain what they’ve achieved, how they met the marking criteria and discussing improvements that they should be making.

That’s amazing because now when I’m marking a group project I really can just sit down with the group leader and review their footage, this gives us more opportunity to review the learning, be honest and reflective and set more exciting targets than we would otherwise. It also serves as an implicit record of the achievement of students in your lesson and we’re certainly going to be showing that to Ofsted!

It also works really nice to watch bits of this footage as a class at the end, seeing clips of a group over the six lesson project go from strength to strength is highly motivational and the students really love having an X-factor style ‘best bits’ montage at the end of a project.

No Screen = No Vanity

Have you ever sent a group of students off with a normal digital camera to record something? They’re gone for an hour and come back with five minutes of poor footage, mainly because they’re busy watching, reviewing and deleting any video that’s not Hollywood standard. They never are Hollywood standard.

That doesn’t matter to us, but to the students it’s horrific and they’ll spend hours reshooting a five minute video because someone laughed, or someone’s hair looks awful or maybe just because they aren’t happy with the way they sound.

This is a distraction to the point of the video recording task, when you use a pair of video recording glasses then students don’t get to see the footage before you do, they can’t delete anything and so what you get is a full stream of consciousness recording. Much better for most purposes.

They also work better to melt away into the background, no one’s standing around unnaturally holding a camera for all to see and act up to, someone’s just wearing slightly naff glasses and students soon forget that they’re being recorded. It’s a completely different experience and because of that I thought it might be useful elsewhere.

Lesson Observations

8odneSo we bought another one. With two at my disposal I snuck them into lesson observations, and they worked a treat. Ever tried to record a lesson observation? The students act even stranger than if there’s just a member of senior leadership in the room! Not so with our video recording glasses, and better than that you get a pupil’s eye view of the lesson so you can really see what they get up to whilst you’re running around being inspiring.

One of the things that works for us is using Final Cut Pro X on the Macs to edit these two videos into one so that you can give different pairs of the glasses to different ability students. It’s very difficult to argue against the need for differentiation by task when you see for yourself the different abilities and actions of two very different learners.

Where it works well is for observations of long lesson in departments, the batteries last about an hour and a half, good enough for most lessons. We take the footage, edit it like in the gif above and simply all sit down together and watch it back: fast forwarding, pausing and rewinding as we see fit. The important thing is the conversation, it turns a lesson observation into a real-time coaching event and you can have some fantastically productive conversations to improve teaching and learning without struggling to remember what was going on.


Video recording glasses are brilliant, because:

  • It’s a cheaper way of getting video recording into your classroom
  • The only way to watch the video is with a USB cable into your computer, so no one can delete or review the footage until you say so
  • It allows students to naturally record work and progress
  • They are much more subtle than traditional cameras and so allow observations and pupil work recording with more natural behaviour
  • Footage is high definition with great audio so we can watch it back in our teams and have useful coaching style conversations about the teaching and learning happening
  • It implicitly records pupil progress

I’d really recommend giving it a go!


It’s my penultimate sarcastic article for this term, where today I’m looking at something very familiar to a lot of us. It’s very pertinent

Sharing Large Files without Killing your Inbox

I get this a lot, I am forever having to wander over to the IT support guys, cap in hand, with a tear in my eye to beg for a bit more inbox space because someone’s emailed me a 1.2Gb video file and now I can’t actually send or receive any other email. Now with most emailing this isn’t usually a problem, if you’re sending messages across the interwebs then you tend to get an error and you rethink your strategy. but when an email goes across an internal system – like most of us have – then we can end up with us using email as a file storage area.


Sending any file larger than a few megabytes via email. If it’s getting above 4Mb do please have a think if there’s an easier way to do it. This could be a video, a zip archive of all the work for Y11 or just a REALLY huge PowerPoint file. Regardless, it fills my inbox with files that I sort of need but also are ridiculously huge.


I’ve just finished recording a lesson observation with my iPad, I’ve saved the file to my computer and I want to send it to one of my colleagues for a critique. Great! Very forward thinking! But there’s one problem, how do I get this file to them? I suppose I could stick it on a memory stick and walk down but come on! We live in the 21st Century so I’m going to send it through the internet.

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So how best to do this? Well all other files I send by attaching them to an email. That’ll work right? Yeah, there we go, it took a while to attach it but now I click send and… boom! Done!


The biggy is that you email dissapears into the ether, it’s far too big. Your recipient never sees it and sometimes doesn’t know they should be expecting it so you might as well not have bothered.

Or, you could be more unfortunate and you end up clogging up some poor person’s mailbox with your huge file sizes. This means that person’s having to scour their emails for the ones with the biggest attachments that they can delete lust so they can send and receive messages again.

These files take ages to upload and download again, fill up massses of bandwidth that we could be using for other things and sit, unloved, taking up space in our email for an age.

If you ever need to move email providers then copying over these huge files will be a massive problem! They may not even transfer over. (Guess what we’re doing on Friday?)

There’s also another issue in that people start relying on their email client as a place to store their large files. People often moan that they’ve run out of space on their email server but have several emails of a huge size that they ‘need to keep’. If it’s that important to you make sure you download the file and save it somewhere!


Okay a few choices here. First always check the size of the file you’re trying to attache before you click send, you can do this very easily in Windows. Right click on the file and go to properties, if the files is bigger than 3Mb then consider using one of the other methods.

If it’s a file you need to send then consider using one of the websites that deals with sending big files between people, a site such as will let you upload your large file and get a link to it sent to the intended recipient. This is great because I still get it in email, but the file is just presented as a link. Fantastic!

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There is a problem there too though, because as great as that is we can’t guarantee that emailing sensitive information is being done within our data protection regulations. One thing to look at would be in using your school’s Google drive account; you just log in with your school email and password and can upload and share a file. Even better here because we’re using our school’s own system so we should be on safer ground with transmitting sensitive data.

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Have a good think about the format though, in our example the video would be sent just to be watched. We don’t particularly need the person to keep the video so where do we normally go to watch videos reliably online? YouTube is your answer here; you can upload and secure a youtube video in the same way you can a Google drive document, if you’re using your Google apps for schools login then this is even better as you can share it with people just on your domain. It won’t show up in searches, no one will accidentally stumble across it but you can share the file in an efficient and easy manner with your colleague.

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Above is a real example of our department’s secure storage of recorded observations, shared only with the oberver and observee so they can be referred to if needed.


If you’re using your inbox as a storage area for coursework submission, important files or the like then make sure you move those things out of your inbox and onto your local folder as soon as you can! If you need to have a certain set of files available to you at all times you may need to look at a solution like Dropbox or OneDrive (i.e. SkyDrive) or even using the Google Drive sync application with your Google apps for schools log in. Just remember that if you are keeping files in the cloud that you should be careful about sensitive files and data going outside of your School’s data protection policies. Using their provided tech, like Skydrive or Google drive usually makes this a bit safer.


One of the worst things you can do is email huge files to people. It’s pretty much the same as, for a laugh, ordering a shed to be delivered to someone who lives in a flat because they once expressed an interest in gardens. It’s not neccesarily a bad thing to do. but it reeks of bad taste.

So please stop and think, if your attachement is taking a long time to attach then is it too big? Is there a better way to send your file?

There probably is. If not then you’re getting IT wrong, and you probably need my book…

I’ve recently been the grateful recipient of a Jooby Gorillapod. No, it’s better than the name suggests – it’s a really, really useful tripod for the iPhone. But, more than this, the unique way it’s designed means that you can pretty much attach or mount the iPhone anywhere!

So what have I been using it for? Aside from my ongoing quest to create Charlie-Brooker-esque theory videos for ICT and Computing (still a quest unfortunately, can’t get the sound right!); I’ve found this a real turning point in my use of video in the classroom.

It sounds silly, but having the ability to stick my iPhone anywhere and leave it recording is having myriad benefits to my own pedagogy as well as Student achievement. This has happened, quite naturally, from my adoption of setting up the Gorillpod and letting it record – just getting used to having it running in the classroom without putting on a show for it.

Step two was forcing myself to actually go back and review those recordings. Yes, in some respect watching a lesson back that you have just taught is a little like living in Groundhog day – but you get to see yourself as a teacher practising your craft – just as the students would see you. From there you’ll already be acutely aware of the flaws and limitations in your delivery; are you going too fast? Do you have any annoying habits? Are you missing behaviour events right in front of your nose?

Step 3 was in brining it into the student realm and using it to record their responses to questioning, peer reviews and discussions. After the initial novelty wears off there’s a strong motivating factor in having a recording of their responses for future reference. Students seem to take the exercises more seriously and having the footage to refers back to is golden.

Referring back can take a number of forms: You could use it as reference material, you could splice together peer reviews from different parts of a project to allow students to better visualise their progress; and you could use it as a whole class activity to dissect and critique learning styles.

Pushing metacognition (understanding your own thinking) as an important skill, Students can take what they have previously said and work on strategies for improvement. Peers will be much nicer in reviewing students responses than a student will be to themselves!

The fantastic thing about all of this is that after building up a bank of recordings, we can measure the improvement of students and genuinely see if their metalearning skills are improving their performance.

Why use video?

Student engagement, achievement and understanding of their own learning process increases as long as you use the video in lesson and don’t just archive it never to be seen again. Students even watch each others videos cross curricularly, building up a mass of skills that they can improve upon.

Teachers get to see themselves teach. Yes, it might be cringe worthy, but try and push past this and critique yourself – your practice can only benefit from it.

Top Tips

The biggest tip I’ve got for you: don’t make it an enormous effort. If you have to go too far out of your way to make it regular classroom practice then after the initial fun has worn off you’ll stop using it. The key is to pop a camera somewhere, record the lesson, not be too precious about the quality of the footage and then actually go to the trouble of using the video later

Case study

GCSE Computing (Year 10)

The group were due to study the differences between open source and proprietary software, as well as bespoke and off-the-shelf software. Rather than leading a didactic lesson I simply covered the basics and set them a debating challenge.

I got them all excited and enthusiastic with some examples of good and bad debates (from the archives of iOS vs Android and XBox vs PlayStation) and set them in teams to prepare to argue why their topic was best.

I recorded the debates using the iPhone attached to one of the mounted speakers in the corner of the room. The debates were great, passioned, reasoned arguments with some innovative and interesting arguments.

The real positive came in the next lesson where we reviewed the recordings, critiqued the performance, questioned the factual accuracy of the statements made and then, finally, made a series of Cornell notes on the topic covered.

Students not only researched for themselves on this unit, but had an impetus to be experts in their subject (to win the debate) and built on their metacognitive skills in analysing the debate word-for word.


Give it a go! You don’t need any fancy equipment, just something that records video and the impetus to use that recording in the classroom. I’m sure many of you already use video in a similar way; I just found the key to me using it regularly and successfully was in not making it a chore!