Hi-tech video spectacles similar to the ones worn by Tom Cruise in the film Mission: Impossible are helping novice teachers to improve their classroom skills.
The cleverly-disguised surveillance cameras are being worn by Israeli teachers as part of an experiment designed by Elika Yaffe, a teacher-educator in Haifa who recently obtained a doctorate at Bath university.
Dr Yaffe hit on the idea after spotting a newspaper advert for the spectacles. And the innovative project is now causing a flurry of excitement in both Israel and the UK. Dr Yaffe, who presented a paper on her research at the Bera conference, explained that young teachers use the glasses to record their lessons and then study the recordings.
The pupils are told they are being filmed but because the spectacles are light-weight and have had their tinted lenses removed they quickly forget about the tiny camera mounted above the bridge of their teacher's nose.
There is therefore less acting for the camera.
"We have had the privilege of discussing pedagogical issues from a new angle," Dr Yaffe said. "It has enabled the mentor to participate in the lesson - to be there without being there. It's a better source of evidence than traditional video. The teacher can become his own observer and be observed at the same time."
The teachers also value the insights the recordings offer. "All of a sudden I saw that I was hardly looking at the left side of the class where two groups were working quietly," one teacher said. "I was busy with one group on the right side for the whole lesson because they were disruptive."
Dr Yaffe now wants to extend her study by asking an able pupil and a child with special needs to wear the spectacles and then compare their perspectives on lessons.
"It's a very exciting project," said Bath university's Dr Yolande Muschamp, Elika Yaffe's supervisor. "I believe that Elika and her colleagues are the only teacher-educators in the world using this technology. The approach could be adopted here, too. It would be very valuable."
DB Bera conference paper abstracts can be found at httpbrs.leeds.ac.ukbelwwwBEIAbera2003.htm