Friday, August 2, 2013

The Teacher Evaluatron 5000: Coming to a Classroom Near You?

Last week I visited a school district and saw the most intriguing device. It looked something like
the thing on the right. Until I got back home and Googled it, I didn't know what it was called, and so in discussion, it quickly became dubbed the "Teacher Evaluatron 5000." (Nice one, Matthew.) The district had purchased one of these panoramic camera devices per campus so that teachers' classrooms could be recorded and they could then be evaluated from offices far away. My immediate, gut reaction to this was, "How horrible and depersonalizing." I asked a couple of district employees what teachers thought of the device. One of them replied something like, "Well, they should like it, but nobody likes to be evaluated, so they don't like it because it's an evaluation tool." The other employee said something like, "Teachers hate it. They're leaving the district because the way this system is used is dehumanizing."

I wonder what you think. Is it important for administrators to spend time in your classroom or would you prefer the "Teacher Evaluatron 5000" to record then archive 15 minutes of video to a server somewhere far away?

The device in question is actually called the Teachscape. (Good job with the name, guys. Much better than our suggestion.) Also, there are some neat projects going on with this camera that do not have the doom and gloom feel of the Evaluatron 5000. Here's one use that sounds like a potentially good idea. In this instance, the teacher whose work will be used to study effective teaching knows that "She is the only person in Memphis with access to her video, which cannot be used to evaluate her work."

The picture below might help you visualize one possible setup. Here's a CNET review of the Teachscape.  Be on the lookout for this device. It may be only a matter of time until this device becomes a part of the daily life of many teachers.




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