The TIMSS Video Study

Various authors, Website, Feb 17, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Jim Stigler writes, by email, "the 53 public use lessons collected as part of the TIMSS video studies are now available for everyone on a new website," I've written to ask why users must register to view the videos; it's a user-hostile design that in my view serves no good purpose. "In addition to the 53 full-length videos of eighth-grade mathematics and science lessons from seven countries, the site also provides full English-translation subtitles for each lesson, a searchable transcript, and a set of
resources collected with each lesson such as scanned text materials and teacher commentaries. The site also includes a discussion forum where users can share ideas for how they are using the site" The video study was conducted in 1999 and involved videotaping and analyzing teaching practices in more than one thousand classrooms.

Here's the response I got back on the registration question: "Thanks for your message. We decided to require registration to see the videos for two main reasons. First, and foremost, we don't feel comfortable allowing anonymous access to classroom videos with real teachers. Even though they have agreed to share their videos, we believe that there should be mutual accountability: they aren't anonymous, so why should the viewers be anonymous? We believe that uses of such video to improve teaching will most likely occur within communities where people are not anonymous. Second, we are able to provide access to these materials thanks to private foundation funding. We want to be able to document the nature and amount of use so that we can justify requests for future funding, which can keep it free for users." I think this an astonishingly weak justification, but there you have it. To me, it's just email farming, which they will later use for mailouts or fundraising.
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