AERA 2013 Perspectives on Technology Critique

Today I had the privilege of being a discussant for a paper session for the Supervision and Instructional Leadership Special Interest Group. I reviewed four papers. Below is my critique. I used a modification of the Four A's Protocol from the National School Reform Faculty.


AERA 2013 Tech Panel



How Are They Now? Longer-Term Effects of Virtual Coaching Through Online BIE Technology

By Rock, Schumacker, Gregg, Howard, Gable, Zigmond


Summary: The purpose of this paper was to describe a study that examined the long-term effects of BIE technology. It’s a mixed methods study.



  • Teacher candidates need to learn a specific set of skills (high access instructional practices vs Ball’s high leverage practices), and that these skills can be taught through coaching.
  • Teachers need immediate feedback and maybe even real time feedback.
  • The supervisor is a more knowledgeable other whose pedagogical vision is more valued.  
  • Teacher candidates rely on the supervisor to be able to identify critical incidents to support their learning.


  • Specific, targeted feedback is useful in supporting novice learning.
  • This technology could be used with marginal teachers.
  • Developing a consulting voice in teachers is helpful for supporting their learning (conceptual and procedural mentoring).



  • I wonder about the value of time and its role in reflection. How much time is enough time to process and reflect?  
  • I worry that that this technology could/would be used in isolation and that teachers could become dependent upon the perceptions of others in understanding their practice rather than constructing their own meaning about their practice with the support of a supervisor.
  • I wonder about the teacher candidates’ perspective. Would they see the same critical incidents? Would it be possible for the BIE technology to be used for teacher candidates to construct their own meaning rather than just being told?



  • Passion and commitment for researching practices to support teacher learning.



BIE and Feedback to Teachers a Decade Later: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

By Mary Catherine Scheeler


Summary: The purpose of this article was to review the literature  from 2002 to present on experimental or quasi-experimental studies. 88 original articles that was narrowed to 6 because the articles needed to have an independent variable of immediate feedback and they needed to be experimental or quasi-experimental.



  • Supervision can be more efficient if we use technology.
  • Supervisors can change teaching practice by identifying deficiencies and telling teachers how to change their behavior.
  • Feedback is giving through a supervisor identifying and passing judgment on the teacher’s practice by giving positive, corrective, and specific feedback.
  • Telling teachers how to change their behavior will result in lasting change. (One of the studies they cite describes how the practices that teachers use in their first year whether right or wrong are practices that pervade for some time in their careers. We might point to the fact that lasting change happens because the teachers constructed their own knowledge.


  • BIE technology would give immediate feedback.
  • If teacher performance is measure in specific, discreet skills, then the BIE technology has been helpful in improving very specific practices.


  • I wonder about the role of immediacy and the value of time and conversation is supporting reflection about practice. It seems as if BIE technology streamlines this process of feedback and does not allow for that conversation. How do we measure the value of the conversation?
  • I wonder about the role of the supervisor and the role of the cooperating/collaborating teacher.
  • I worry about how some might perceive this technology. If supervision is seen only as contributing towards the technical helping aspects of teaching, then supervision is undervalued and oversimplified. Like teaching, supervision is complex, robust practice that encompasses more than what Glickman, Gordon, & Ross-Gordon identify as direct assistance. It also contributes to the misperception of supervision in teacher education as being unimportant and too technical.
  • I worry about the seduction and potential misuse of this technology. I worry that it robotizes teaching and supervision.


  • To really think about the role of technology in teaching, learning, and supervision, and to find ways to have the technology support the work we do as supervisors because it enhances it. If it makes us more efficient, then so be it, but the driving force should be because it makes us better in what we do and challenges us to rethink old habits in our practice.


Uses of Recordings for Supervision: Are Educators Ready for Our close-up shots?

By Cook, et al


Summary: This paper described a study where researchers looked at how educators were using video to think about their professional learning. It also was a mixed study using survey and interview data.



  • Video is a powerful practice in teacher’s professional development.
  • Sharing video with others is also powerful in supporting teachers’ learning.
  • Examining practice through the use of video requires preparation.



  • Video and sharing video can be helpful in making our practice public.
  • It can be a rich source of data for reflection.
  • Reflection is a skill that needs to be continually learned and refined. It requires a metacognitive component and an opportunity of dissonance. Video can be medium where beliefs and practices collide, especially when video is used as a conversation catalyst. The power is in the conversation.



  • A teacher in the study commented about how she was being asked to videotape her practice and reflect on it by identifying what she would do differently. I wonder about our obsession with deficiency and the need to constantly identify what we are doing wrong. I wonder if there is some if not equal value in identifying what should be kept the same and why.
  • Although the study focused on how educators learn with video and with whom they learn, I wanted to know what the teachers learned about their practice. It seems as if opportunities for future research exist here.



  • The study claimed that educators were under prepared and under supported in the use of video as a tool for changing their practice. I wondered what recommendations the authors have for how educators should be prepared and should be supported in this endeavor.


Technology-Drive Teacher Evaluation: Its Promises and Our Vulnerabilities

By Helen Hazi


  • Teacher evaluation is atheoretical.
  • Teacher evaluation is linked to definitions of teaching.
  • Evaluation still relies on a generic view of teaching



  • Simplifying teaching and simplifying supervision de-professionalizes the fields.
  • Technology can be seductive and misused.
  • We have an obsession with evaluation and comparing ourselves.
  • Technology can make supervisors’ lives and practices easier and more efficient, but does that make it right?
  • Evaluation tools oversimplify teaching “Teaching can be sliced and diced into domains, components, and elements, while learnirs are passive and blank slates (p. 20).”



  • if teaching is so complex, and the practice of using the rubrics and frameworks in unintended ways is corrupt, what suggestions would you make for making sense of teaching? Is that even possible in 104 pages?
  • If Marzano’s and Danieleson’s intentions had been pure, would you still feel the same about their work had they not been seduced by the corporate greed and commercializing of teacher evaluation?



  • to continue to find ways to engage in the evaluative process that truly empowers teachers
  • How do we measure dispositions and the dispositional component of teaching? Should we be measuring?
  • To find funding to engage in quality and complex practices of supervision (Quote on p. 21). How do we find the resources (time, money, people) to engage in deepening reflection rather than just judging and corrective behavior>




We care about teachers and teacher quality. The supervisor plays a critical role in supporting the professional learning of teachers. Technological tools exist and they impact our work.

What assumptions does our use of technology unearth for us as a field?