Comparing the leading classroom observation tools

iObservation (Learning Sciences International)

Platform: Web-based, with offline functionality available for buildings and locations without wireless access.
How it works: iObservation is a complete instructional and leadership improvement system. It provides content and video resources that elevate classroom walkthroughs above traditional observation checklists—including electronic access to Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching, Robert Marzano’s Art and Science of Teaching Observation and Feedback Protocol, and Douglas Reeves’ Leadership Performance Matrix. The system can be used to conduct informal classroom walkthroughs, teacher observations, instructional rounds, and teacher self-assessments.
Sharing: Feedback can be sent to teachers immediately following the classroom visit for a transparent and effective process.
Customization: Able to be customized based on school or district needs.
Cost: Varies; contact the company for details.

Observation 360 (School Improvement Network)

Platform: Web-based, with apps for both iOS and Android devices.
How it works: Administrators can use Observation 360 to conduct observations on almost any mobile device. They can use the software’s standard observation templates and evaluation rubrics, which are based on a framework developed by educational consultant Harvey Silver, or they can create their own. In this way, the system supports virtually any framework or methodology. Users also can attach an unlimited number of prescribed resources to any template, including links, videos, and courses.
Sharing: Once an observation is finished, it can be sent immediately to the teacher who was observed, as well as other administrators who should have access. Teachers receive observations with prescribed content (videos, links, files to download, or lesson plans) attached by the observer based on the observation results. The dialogue created by the observation then continues, as the system tracks the educator’s use of the prescribed content, as well as the continuing conversation between the teacher and observer during this learning loop.
Administrators also can grant access to determine which templates are used by which specific observers (and in which schools). For example, all third-grade math teachers in an entire district can be observed with the exact same template, while all the science teachers can be observed using a different one. This ensures confidentiality, compliance, and consistency throughout a district.
Customization: Observation 360 is built to customize. Observations can include any number of data points, with a choice of nine different ways to record the observation information (multiple choice, check box, open ended, etc.).
Cost: $1,995 per site, including an unlimited number of individual licenses. Observation 360 also is included within School Improvement Network’s educator effectiveness system.


Platform: Web-based only.
How it works: The system is fully customizable; forms can include any categories with any look-fors that the user enters. Users can customize the way they collect data as well: with checkboxes, open-response questions, point scales, timers, and/or drop-down menus. Users can create as many custom forms as they’d like, at no additional cost. Once an observation has been logged, a user can upload any type of file and attach it to the observation, including audio, video, photos, and lesson plans.
Sharing: The system is intended to create opportunities for face-to-face conversations and collaboration between teachers and administrators. Observations can be eMailed to teachers, downloaded as PDFs, or exported to Excel files. All of the data are aggregated for a given teacher, specific grade level, school department, and schoolwide to identify trends over time. These trends are displayed graphically, making them easy to understand.
Customization: Observe4success’ biggest differentiator is its ease of use and customization, the company says. Its interface is simple, clean, and user-friendly, allowing any administrator to jump in and start the observation and feedback process.
Cost: $1,200 per school site for a single school. Districts get bulk discounts based on the number of schools purchasing.

eSchool News Staff

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