What to look for in a video platform

technologyOverwhelmed by the prospect of choosing a technology platform to support video observations? In this post, Luisa Sparrow from DIY Coaching discusses what her organization looks for when adopting a technology.  



Beginning in September each year, cohorts of 10-12 teachers across Boston schools gather together for monthly feedback sessions, led by a facilitator from DIY Coaching. At these meetings, teachers engage in coaching conversations guided by their chosen focus area and evidence from a classroom video. Because teachers have a shared content area, these peer-to-peer coaching conversations help advance participants’ pedagogical content knowledge, further equipping them to meet their students’ learning needs. To prepare for these meetings, participants record themselves teaching at least twice each month, for a total of 30-45 minutes of instructional video.

Of course, all of this professional learning requires teachers to watch videos of themselves teaching, and watching videos of oneself can feel a bit...unsettling at first. Teaching is a very personal act, one that we often do in isolation. You might feel vulnerable watching yourself, and sharing that video with someone else? Yikes! Thus, often teachers will take any excuse to avoid the practice.

Technical difficulties provide one of the most justified reasons to skip a video feedback session. Many get mired down by sophisticated technologies and complicated processes, so we must choose our tools carefully. When we find a video platform that simplifies logistics related to recording, uploading, observing, and sharing your lessons, we increase the likelihood that video observations will become an integral part of our development.

So what’s in a platform? Here are some of the features that DIY Coaching looks for:

  • Simplicity in uploading a video from your phone to the platform
  • Ability to form “groups” so you can share your videos as you collaborate with colleagues at your school or elsewhere
  • Ability to take time-stamped notes
  • Option to automatically stop the video when you start typing observation notes so that the video doesn’t move on without you, causing you to lose your train of thought
  • Ability to share your video notes with colleagues
  • Ability to attach supporting documents to videos so you can share specific lesson materials and student work samples with your colleagues
  • Ability to create “tags” for your video to quickly indicate frequently-observed behaviors
  • Cost-effectiveness

While it’s important to feel supported by the right technology and incorporate accountability with formal feedback systems, teachers can easily start to use video in classroom by simply recording from their phone and taking a few minutes to watch it after class. The more we watch ourselves teach, the easier it becomes and the more we learn. So if you’ve been thinking about watching yourself teach, try it out!  You won’t regret it in the long run!


Check out these additional technology resources:

How to talk to technology vendors: A guide for education leaders

Viewing platform vendor list

Sample team support structure

Infrastructure checklist for launch


Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Coaching empowers teachers to film their classroom instruction to identify their strengths and next steps to increase the learning of marginalized students. Formed in Boston in 2016, DIY Coaching activates teachers as coaches for themselves and one another through the use of classroom video.