In 2015-16, lecturers leading a Master’s module on teaching practice piloted the use of video to support student teachers in their reflection. The pilot was a success as far as student learning was concerned, and garnered a lot of good feedback; see the presentation from the Durham Inaugural Learning and Teaching Conference: Using Video, Video Editing Tools and Online Learning Forums to Develop Reflective Practice (PowerPoint). However, there were several issues with the technology that needed to be addressed for the next academic year.
Following on from the pilot and their own research, the lecturers determined the following requirements:
- The video camera needed to record as much as possible, including student interaction as well as the teacher, in a tight space.
- Audio recording needed to pick up everything the teacher was saying, no matter where they were in the room.
- Audio recording also needed to pick up everything the students were saying, including small group discussions occurring simultaneously.
- The final file needed to be uploaded very quickly so that staff were not tied to the classroom or the wifi connection beyond the end of the class period.
- Video needed to be available to all of the student teachers in a secure space.
- Student teachers needed to edit their own videos, singling out short clips to reflect on and discuss with their colleagues.
- Student teachers needed a simple way to share and discuss the clips.
In the previous academic year, video had been recorded straight to Kaltura. This was convenient for access in duo, but it took too long to upload an hour’s worth of recording when time was tight.
Other university systems were considered, including rooms that were already fitted out with video conferencing systems. While this would have addressed some of the issues, it still left the problem of multiple audio feeds (and of guaranteeing that these rooms would be available at the right times).
The Learning Technologies Team had been trialling the Swivl robot with some other projects at the university, and this seemed like the best fit:
- It tracks the presenter when they move, but also comes with a lens extender to capture more of the room if tracking is not appropriate.
- The Swivl C5 comes with four additional microphones to pick up audio feeds from around the room, ensuring that all of the student discussions could be recorded.
- Files are uploaded to the cloud very quickly over the university wifi, to be downloaded and added to duo (via the Kaltura plugin) when convenient.
- Student teachers could create short clips of their videos and post these into the module blog to share with everyone.
The following conference presentation explains the project in more detail: Video for Reflective Practice in the Classroom.
The cost of the Swivl varies from approx £500 to £1,000 depending on the number of audio markers included. Also required is a smartphone or tablet with the free Swivl app installed. In this project we found it useful to attach the Swivl robot to a tripod, although it could sit on a table or desk.
Overall, the trial of the Swivl was a success. It was easy to transport and set up, and at this scale (i.e. producing one video file per week), the process of getting the video to the students was quick and simple. Student feedback was, again, very positive.
This is a recommended solution for certain types of in-class video recording at Durham.
Things to Watch
There was one major issue that we encountered. Especially in a small space where the teacher was likely to turn their back to the Swivl, the tracking connection was sometimes lost. The audio feed still came through, but the camera no longer tracked the teacher. This was particularly problematic when the connection was lost when facing a corner, meaning that the video showed a blank wall for the rest of the session. This was eventually avoided by turning the tracking function off and using the lens extender instead.
Other issues were: ensuring that the Swivl and all five audio markers were charged before each session; downloading files from the Swivl website and uploading them to Kaltura on duo (extra work); ensuring that the teacher did not inadvertently stop or mute the recording with the controls on their audio marker.
To discuss whether the Swivl is right for you, please contact the Learning Technologist for your faculty. We can lend you a robot for trial purposes.
The lecturers involved in the project were:
REVIEW DATE: March 2017