Unit 4 of the student led seminars has seen us focus on up and coming technology, along with ‘the classroom of the future’. I thought for the purposes of this blog entry I would focus on a current piece of technology called ‘Swivl; what does it do you ask? Well let’s find out…
The Swivl device is effectively a mobile cameraman that will enable you to capture anything from:
The flexibility of the device lends itself well to capturing a variety of scenarios that aid in ‘flipping the classroom”. I’ve also found through using the Swivl device, it is ideal for capturing classroom discussion and debate. We used the Swivl to record a classroom discussion in one of the face to face session in our MSc Risk Management module. The students were reflecting on discussion forum posts they had made in the online module – this in turn was allowing the online learners the chance to see a classroom discussion and observe their peers in classroom environment. This added to the social presence required for a Community of Inquiry (CoI) (Rourke, L., et al (2001), allowing online learners not only the opportunity to see their classmates but observe and reflect on what was discussed during the session.
We’ve discussed how Swivl can be utilised, but have not covered how it works and what equipment exactly is required? There is the Swivl base unit which allows a compatible mobile device to be inserted and connected to, this acts as the camera. The second part of the puzzle is the ‘marker’ which acts as a microphone and infrared tracking device, allowing the base unit to ‘swivl’ and track the presenter or speaker. When the footage has been recorded it can be downloaded directly onto your computer of choice or uploaded to the Swivl Cloud via the Swivl App. At this stage you can edit any recorded footage using the facilities available in the Swivl Cloud or a piece of software on your computer. After the footage has been edited it can be inserted into a module within your VLE for example or shared with individuals via email or groups of people.
I think Swivl is a great device which offers a great deal of flexibility in the educational environment. However, I do have a few points of caution or things to keep in mind:
- Make sure you buy the latest model of Swivl, it’s the model with the white base unit. The previous edition (which can still be bought online through various vendors) doesn’t support images/slides to be inserted into presentations. This does limit its ability to effectively record presentations/lectures as trying to film PowerPoint slides on a whiteboard or projector screen for example usually results in the text being unreadable and any graphics/images loosing visual clarity. I’ve found being able to insert the image or slide directly into the recording usually results in a greatly improved viewing experience.
- If you’re going to power the Swivl by using batteries, make sure you have back ups’ of both Triple and Double AA’s. Remember and use the Swivl App to check the battery levels for the base unit and marker and double check the power level of the mobile device you’re using as the camera.
- If you plan on using a Apple device like the iPod or iPhone, you may have to invest in the lightening adapter – as Swivl uses the old style of connection.
So consider the above and then make your choice, as with any pierce of technology. Could this piece of technology be used effectively in the Virtual Academy? To begin looking at this question we need to focus on what has been the central focus of the four units within the MSc’s second module, the answer is the student. The main point of this module has been supporting blended and online students, as I highlighted in the 2nd paragraph the Swivl has been used to record a classroom session to not only make it a reusable resource but make the recording available to online learners as well. This makes sure there is an equality of experience for both face to face and online learners, by offering the same opportunity view a classroom discussion and then post their reflection on the points made as well as expressing their own reflective thoughts, critique and analysis.
Rourke, L., Anderson, T. Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2001). Assessing social presence in asynchronous, text-based computer conferencing. Journal of Distance Education, 14(3), 51-70.