Harnessing the Power of Video Observation with Swivl

Henno Kotze, Senior Teacher – Technology and Independent Learning at UQ-ICTE discusses how Swivl has been a game changer in TESOL Teacher professional development.

Imagine the following scenario:  You are a conscientious teacher who only wants to provide the best possible teaching for your students. You know that one way to try and achieve this is by constantly reflecting on, and improving, your own teaching methods through feedback and revision. Usually, this involves having other teachers or managers sit in on your classes, which can by stressful and might in its own way impact on your teaching performance, not to mention influence the classroom dynamic and the students’ learning experience.

Teachers are constantly faced with the dilemma, but thanks to a nifty piece of educational technology called the Swivl robot camera, this need not necessarily be the case. The Swivl is a smartphone or tablet attachment specifically designed to record classroom sessions, thus allowing for “video observations that strengthen and inform teachers”. It enables your device to ‘swivel’ and follows an infra-red marker which the teacher wears around their neck and allows the camera to stay focused on the presenter. It also comes a number of audio input markers to pick up high-quality audio from the teacher and students.

At UQ-ICTE, we invested in our first Swivl robot camera in 2016 and were so impressed with it that we bought a second one in 2017. The main value of the camera lies in its ability to answer the dilemma posed above in a user-friendly way: once students have given their consent to being filmed in class, the Swivl allows teachers to unobtrusively record their classroom lessons without the changes to the classroom dynamic or student learning experience that a human observer inevitably brings. This has been especially useful for our DELTA candidates who have utilised the Swivl to record and reflect on practice lessons in preparation for DELTA module two assessments.

The software is very versatile and allows you to record not only teacher interactions but also video and audio from student interactions, providing a holistic view of what is happening in the classroom. This results in an intimate classroom observation and reflection previously not possible, allowing the educator to make powerful and meaningful changes to their teaching in response. 

Thanks to its multifunctional nature, at UQ-ICTE we have used the Swivl for teacher observations, and also for recording student presentations, video tutorials, professional development workshops, product demos, and staff meetings. Other ways the audio-visual power Swivl can be leveraged include mentorship programs, high-quality audio for video conferencing or live streaming and recording different interactions simultaneously thanks to the dual-camera feature.

Once the video is recorded, it is uploaded to the Swivl Cloud drive, where it can be easily and quickly edited by adding slides, cropping, bookmarking or choosing the audio channels to be added before it is downloaded or shared online.   

In terms of educational technology, the Swivl camera redefined classroom observations and, through harnessing the power of video, empowered our language teachers to take their teaching to the next level. 



Last updated:
13 April 2018