An interview with Donna Kocur, Field Placement Coordinator with the Department of Education
The Education Department purchased multiple Swivl devices (https://www.swivl.com/robot-teams/) to be used by student teachers. The Swivl is a robotic mount for an iPad, camera, or smartphone that comes with a remote control Marker that can be worn on a lanyard by a presenter. It is designed to track the Marker and, with the video capture abilities of the other device, record videos of a moving person. Perhaps most importantly, the Marker also acts as a wireless microphone, greatly improving and simplifying recording the presenter’s voice.
Check out this video from Grand Valley State University to see the Swivl in action.
Why did you do it?
As part of North Carolina state requirements for licensure, all student teachers must complete an extensive pedagogy assessment. A passing score is a requirement of teacher licensure. At Meredith College, our student teachers complete the Praxis Performance Assessment for Teachers which is owned by ETS. For Task 4, student teachers are required to submit a 15-minute recording of their teaching. In addition, they submit responses to written prompts, artifacts such as lesson plans and student work samples, and timestamps that highlight effective teaching practices as seen in the video.
Before we purchased the Swivls, student teachers used recording devices (iPads, smartphones) placed in the back of the classroom. Although the video was adequate, the audio was not. Typical classroom sounds, like children coughing, chairs moving, and papers shuffling made it hard to hear the teacher and the students. in addition, the microphone on the recording device was not always close to the speaker. I learned from a PPAT reviewer that if the audio is not clear, the student will not receive a passing score for this task.
A colleague had seen a Swivl being used in Greensboro. We decided that the Swivl might solve the issue of clear audio for our student teachers.
What was the outcome?
The Swivl is easy to use with either an iPad or smartphone. Each student teacher makes a Swivl account and can easily access and share recordings. But the best part is the clarity of the audio. Since the student teacher wears a microphone and tracker (clipped or on a lanyard), the audio is clear. They can walk to a student who is speaking and record the student responses. The video is relevant because the Swivl follows the teacher. The recording can also include conversations among student groups if the tracker is placed in the center of the group.
What else do potential users need to know about the Swivl?
The Swivls are expensive, and we were able to purchase just two for our department. Media Services also purchased two that we are able to use. This is so helpful since we tend to have more than 30 student teachers each semester. We have had no technical issues with the Swivls, and they have been passed back and forth among students and carted in and out of schools for the last four semesters.
To learn more about Swivls and evaluate one to use in your class, contact Paul Keys at firstname.lastname@example.org.