Capturing lessons with Swivl

Most people who know me would describe me as a gadget guy.  But that’s not really how I would identify myself.  While I do like technology, I usually look for devices that can make my life easier and support the work I do.  I’m an educator so I tend to examine technology using an instructional lens.  I like to experiment with new technologies only to see if there are ways to expand our pedagogy and increase student learning.

I came across the Swivl a few months ago and instantly thought it would be a great teaching tool.  The Swivl calls itself a “personal cameraman” and includes a rotating base to which iPod Touches, iPhones and iPad Minis can be connected.  Coupled with a microphone lanyard, the pair offers the ideal recording device for classroom environments.   The microphone lanyard provides crystal clear recording quality from a distance and provides a marker for detecting the location of the speaker.  If the speaker moves, the Swivl rotates to make sure that the speaker is always within the camera frame.  The lanyard will work from a distance of 30 feet, which will help instructors who want to record their lessons in larger classrooms. Recording can be initiated by pushing a button on the lanyard, even when the instructor is across the room.  The free Swivl app creates a seamless link between the iOS device and the Swivl and makes recording a simple process.

Educationally, the Swivl provides a relatively inexpensive way to support lesson recording.  This process can be used for Flipped Classroom initiatives, for professional development sessions or even for providing materials for students who need remediation or who have missed classes.  For those educators working in teacher preparation programs, the Swivl also offers a great way for pre-service teachers to record demonstration lessons for reflection and instructor feedback.  The Swivl is also compatible with Skype and Facetime for instructors who want to videoconference with students while teaching a lesson.

While the technology behind the Swivl is really advanced, the device itself is priced cost effectively.  The Swivl retails for around $180, which means that a simple lesson capture unit can be created by pairing the unit with a $200-$400 iOS device.  An instructor could start recording lessons without investing the thousands of dollars that some high-tech lesson capture units cost.  The Swivl is also tremendously mobile, which means that any educational environment can be recorded.  Working in a lab with minimal space?  Teaching a lesson outside?  Leading a field trip to some far off location?  The Swivl can support all of those learning environments and so much more.  By offering simple, inexpensive lesson recording, the Swivl is definitely going to turn some heads.

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