Newton County’s Implementation of VIEWpath Featured in Harvard’s Best Foot Forward Study

In three years, the number of cameras installed in classrooms grew from 2 to 1,390


NEWTON COUNTY, GEORGIA – October 2015 —Harvard’s Center for Education Policy Research has released a toolkit for their Best Foot Forward Project, a study conducted from 2013 to 2015 that took an in-depth look into how camera technology can be implemented in classrooms to aid in the teacher observation process.  Newton County School System in Georgia was featured for their use of VIEWpath (Video Interactive Education Window) as an example of going from a small installation in specialized classrooms to a district-wide standard.

“In March [of 2015] we had just over 22,000 video recordings across the district, and that’s without a mandate to do so,” said Samantha Fuhrey, Superintendent of Newton County School System (NCSS). According to the Best Foot Forward toolkit, the number of cameras installed in classrooms grew from just two to 1,390 in just three years – not because teachers were compelled by administrators but because they recognized the impact of the technology on their practice.  “Reflection is one of the most important things to improve practice in education, and [VIEWpath] allows them to do it,” said Shannon Buff, Director of Secondary Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development at NCSS.

Newton County started with just a few cameras installed mostly for security purposes in 2012.  “For us video was part of creating a safe classroom environment,” stated Fuhrey.  But they soon realized there was far more potential for using cameras in the classroom than just security. “We discovered that [VIEWpath] could be used for so much more,” said Fuhrey.  “We learned that the video footage enhanced our professional learning communities because teachers were able to capture their instructional techniques and share them with their colleagues in a setting that was not evaluative.”

Recognizing an area for growth in their math department, Newton County trained one of their most effective math teachers to do video instruction for other teachers.  Due to the great success of these videos, demand for cameras in the classroom increased dramatically among teachers.  “I think that VIEWpath has been a total game changer for Newton County,” said Melissa Jackson, Instructional Technology Coordinator at NCSS.  “It has created a true culture of sharing among our teachers.”

VIEWpath is part of an entire classroom solution installed at the schools in NCSS.  In addition to VIEWpath, the school uses classroom audio systems that allows teachers to talk in their natural, soothing voice and be heard clearly by all students in the classroom.  They also use the SAFE System, an alert notification system that can summon help in an emergency with the press of a button on the teacher’s microphone.  All these products are available through Audio Enhancement, Inc.



Founder Claudia Anderson began Audio Enhancement, Inc. in 1978 with the simple idea that “learning begins with hearing.” As pioneers of infrared audio technology, Audio Enhancement brings understanding and success to both students and teachers.  Today, Audio Enhancement continues to be owned and operated by the Anderson Family.  For more information, please visit or call toll-free, 800-383-9362.

Higher Learning

“Teachers Know Best,” a recent study by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, found that U.S. districts spend a total of $18 billion each year on professional development (PD) and teachers devote about 90 hours annually to doing PD—yet only 29 percent are highly satisfied with their district’s offerings. A large majority of teachers say PD does not help to prepare them for their jobs.
The teachers described the ideal PD experience as frequent, relevant, interactive, and delivered by a person who “gets it.” They also requested more coaching and collaboration.
While most districts have moved away from the once-a-year-bring-everyone-together-for-a-lecture format, it sounds like we could do a lot better.

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Report: Teacher-Controlled Video Observations Improve Teacher Assessment Process

Teachers who participated in a year-long study comparing video-recorded and in-person classroom observations found the video observation process fairer and more useful overall than in-person observations, according to a new report from the Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) at Harvard University.

The report, “The Best Foot Forward Project: Substituting Teacher-Collected Video for In-Person Classroom Observations,” summarizes the findings of the first year of implementation of the Best Food Forward Project. The researchers studied 347 teachers and 108 administrators at schools in Delaware, Georgia, Colorado and California. Participants were randomly assigned to a treatment or control group. Those in the treatment group received a video camera and access to a secure site to store and view recorded lessons, and those in the control group continued to use in-person classroom observations.

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Wooster High School has Unique Way to Help Students Listen

RENO, NV– In 2010, Wooster High School in Reno implemented a new audio enhancement system designed to help hard of hearing and deaf students by placing speakers in all the classrooms. The system cost $126,000 and was funded by state bonds.
Teachers also wear an egg-shaped microphone around their necks to broadcast their lessons.
“The first thing I thought that was the weirdest thing I have ever seen,” said Chad Coley, math teacher, Wooster High School. “After the first or second period I was so glad I had this thing because my voice isn’t tired and it has just helped immensely.”
Kyl Garrick is deaf and the audible enhancement system can still give him signals to help in his studies.
“For example if I am working and I am paying attention to my work at the table and the teacher starts talking or something, the kids will look up but I won’t notice it,” said Garrick. “But, if I hear with the audio enhancement then I can look up and notice the language access from the interpreter.”

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Teq Named Exclusive Provider of Audio Enhancement’s Classroom Audio Systems in New York State

HUNTINGTON, NY–(Marketwired – Sep 10, 2015) – Teq, a leading educational technology and professional development firm, today announced that it was named the exclusive provider of Audio Enhancement’s award-winning classroom audio systems for all K-12 districts in New York State.
Teq will be offering the XD line of Audio Enhancement products, the XD receiver, XD teacher microphone, and XD student microphone. XD Technology pairs microphones to amplifiers and speakers, allowing student groupings to hear their teacher without interference in a small room, open plan classroom, or even a gymnasium.
“These are the best classroom audio products available,” said Teq CEO Damian Scarfo. “Learning begins with hearing, and with Audio Enhancement, every student can clearly hear the teacher’s normal tone of voice just as if they were sitting in the front of the classroom.”

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Harvard Turns to Technology for Teacher Evaluations

Think back to the old days when your elementary school principal would slip into the back of the classroom and make mysterious jottings on a yellow pad. Your teacher appeared nervous. No matter how quiet the principal tried to be, it seemed the door always slammed as she bustled her way out of the classroom. Evaluating educators has traditionally been an intrusive, subjective process. One person could determine a teacher’s fate. Good day or bad day—new material or review—the evaluation of those few minutes became part of the teacher’s permanent record (yes, teachers had one, too!). Flash forward to this past year.
Researchers at the Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) at Harvard University wanted to know if teacher evaluations have to be done the old way, and the answer is No. Instead, they gave teachers cameras in classrooms across the country to learn whether video technology allows for better teacher evaluations. The study is called the Best Foot Forward project.


Classrooms of Tomorrow: innovative technology + futuristic teaching = engaged students

The Classrooms of Tomorrow initiative is not only changing the way students learn, it’s also changing the way teachers teach.
This innovative initiative, commonly referred to as COT, reinvents the way students are taught through interactive technology, unlimited classroom configurations, and teachers who facilitate learning rather than lecturing at the front of the classroom.
The classroom technology serves not only as a teacher presentation tool, but also a student-interaction device. Lecture Capture cameras allow teachers to record lessons and do virtual field trips to communicate with other classrooms across the district.

Kevin Mitchell of Audio Enhancement said there are four speakers strategically placed in the ceiling around the classroom. When the teacher (equipped with a microphone) speaks, everyone in the class can hear her. When students speak on a mobile microphone, their voices will also be carried across the classroom so they, too, will be easily understood.

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New Sandy middle school opens doors after 2 years of construction

…The 200,000-square-foot building boasts a two-story fitness facility with 14 basketball hoops, an auditorium with a full cable rigging system and an infrared audio enhancement system for teachers that automatically hooks up to speakers in the classroom.
One of the hardest parts of the process was convincing teachers of the vision, according to Hart, who said it took “hard conversations and leaps of faith” to get to opening day.
The design choices aren’t just aesthetic, according to Canyons spokesman Jeff Haney. He noted that 50 percent of the school’s students are from low-income homes.
“For them to walk into this school and know that we’ve invested in their education — that’s important,” Haney said.

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Teachers Want Better Feedback – Education Week

You’ve heard it before: “Your call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance.” If you thought this message was just a stall tactic before reaching an
actual person, let me assure you, the calls are taped.
For a short time, I worked as a telemarketer, selling reading supplies to dupable literates. At my call center, managers “listened in” to assess the impact of the sales conversation, to identify missed opportunities for upselling pen and ink refills, and to coach us on better advising customers to purchase lap desks they never knew they needed in the first place. Though I dubbed my supervisor “director of wiretapping,” my sales doubled after I implemented her feedback. Mousepads and folios flew off warehouse shelves. Never in my career, before or since, have I received more feedback on my own advice giving than I did after those late nights by the phone.
These days, we give a lot of lip service to increasing the amount of feedback given to teachers. Research indicates that these efforts are worthwhile. Teachers’ improvement can be predicted by the extent of their interactions with those more expert in teaching and by the extent to which they seek instructional advice from their colleagues. Further, in order for classroom observations to be meaningful to teachers, they must be accompanied by high quality feedback.

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Smith Springs Elementary To Be A Hub Of Technology – Channel 5 Network

ANTIOCH, Tenn. – It’s a race against the clock to complete work at Smith Springs Elementary. Less than a week before the start of school it was still a construction zone. When we visited hard hats were mandatory
“They’ve lost a lot of lot of work days from snow and from rain,” Principal Lance Forman explained. “We will be ready to go for kids on August 5th.”
Walk inside a classroom and you may think all of the construction is worth the wait.
“If you’re teaching kindergarten in this room you would wear that lanyard and your voice would come out of these four speakers in the room,” Forman said.
Each classroom is a hub of technology, starting with an audio enhancement system. The teacher’s lanyard is a microphone and wirelessly syncs to room’s Wi-Fi. The teacher also controls a camera.
“The camera is not for surveillance. It’s only turned on when teachers want it to be turned on to record instruction to reflect on their lesson.”
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