In a 1994 research study in American Anthropologist, Charles Goodwin examines how beginning archaeologists develop “professional vision.” In his conceptualization, professional vision is a way of seeing that is unique to an individual profession. It’s how a police officer can view a crime scene and see evidence that an average citizen would miss. It’s how an archaeologist can look at a patch of discolored mud and see a decayed fence post. It’s how a therapist can examine a patient and identify signs of stress, depression and anxiety.
In Goodwin’s view, one of the critical practices to professional vision is the ability to “articulate graphical representations,” to explicitly examine visual artifacts and apply the theories and ways of knowing that are unique to an individual profession. These “ways of knowing” are learned through participation in communities of practice. Veteran police officers train rookies. Experienced counselors train beginners through practicum sessions. Novice archaeologists study dirt alongside experts in the field who help them learn what to see.
I recently came across a tool that would be ideal for supporting the development of professional vision and aiding in the articulation of graphical representations. Developed by TechSmith, one of the leaders in video creation tools, Coach’s Eye allows mobile device owners to annotate and analyze recorded video. The app is relatively inexpensive ($4.99 in the iTunes App store) and offers a great deal of annotation options and analysis tools. To get started, users simply upload a video and press record. As the video plays, it’s also recording any annotation that is occurring over the video and any narration the user is providing. To support more in depth analysis, the app allows users to zoom into a specific area of the video. After completing an analysis, the annotated video can be saved locally on an individual device, emailed or texted to colleagues or instructors, or uploaded directly to other sites (YouTube, Edmodo, DropBox). There’s also an option for videos to be shared publicly or privately through the Coach’s Eye video site.
While it was primarily designed for coaches to examine the performance of players, Coach’s Eye can also be a useful tool to support the development of professional vision. Imagine beginning teachers analyzing videos of teaching demonstrations they had given. Or a film studies student annotating the camera angles and other techniques in a movie. Returning to Goodwin’s view of professional vision, Coach’s Eye can help a beginner explicitly articulate what they see in graphical representations of practice and for more senior practitioners and instructors to offer feedback to support their development. While many instructors may not see themselves as “coaches,” a tool like Coach’s Eye can help them support students to learn the complex practices of a profession.
Goodwin, C. (1994). Professional Vision. American Anthropologist, 96(3), 606-633.