Trying Out Swivl’s Recap

Leave a comment

I’m a Swivl Pioneer and so was alerted to the launch of Recap, a website that allows students to interact via video with questions the teacher poses. (I’ve heard this is similar to VoiceThread, which I know of but with which I am not directly familiar.)

In my Medieval Lit class, we’re focusing on manuscripts for the next few weeks, and so I thought I’d turn my class loose with Recap and some introductory videos on MSS to see how Recap works.

Once you’re logged in to Recap, you make classes:

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 9.00.49 AM

There’s my Medieval class.

At the upper right of that screen is the ‘Add Recap’ button, which allows you to write questions for your students to answer and you can set the length of max response (2 mins max).

When I first started writing the questions, I was sticking to largely objective questions (because they were the ones that came to mind) but I realized that it seemed somewhat wasteful for students to record answers to objective questions (though I was happier with the video responses to those questions than I expected; more on that below). As I went on, however, I made more open-ended questions, including questions that required physical props; this, it would seem, is the real advantage to Recap, is the ability to hold before the camera in a dynamic way objects to enhance a response.

Once the students answer and submit, the teacher has a summary screen:

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 9.25.00 AM

(At the risk of sounding defensive, the students were working in groups, which is why the percentage is so low.)

You can see too that students are able to rate their understanding with a simple visual key and student videos are available for watching at the bottom.

Here’s a screen-scroll of all of the responses / summary screens:

ScreenFlow from Ed DeHoratius on Vimeo.

Recap also produces (and I mean that to some extent in the technical sense as well) a ‘Daily Review Reel’ (at upper right) that puts together the videos with some music, borders, and the question at the beginning. (I’m not quite sure why all of the videos didn’t make the review reel but I did find that you could add or subtract videos from the reel; perhaps they try to keep the review reel on the shorter side?)

Here’s a link to the video (Recap provides this; no embed code as far as I could find). And here’s the screen-grabbed video:

ScreenFlow from Ed DeHoratius on Vimeo.

In the end, I’m always trying to assess whether a new tool like this has staying power. Is it an effective tool for me and my students to make more efficient and more successful my teaching and their learning? The easy answer is I don’t know. They were initially skeptical (at best) of videoing their answers but, once they got used to the idea, they produced good responses in a more natural and comfortable way. I enjoyed listening to the answers because their personalities came through. And even for the objective questions, which, as I said above, I felt like was a bit of a waste for this kind of format, it seemed like they had a better handle on that objective information than they would have if they were writing it down, filling in a blank, etc. I will try to do circle back to this information later to test that sense, but that was an initial impression.

So a good first foray. I think finding the right kind of assignments for this is important, but I’ll continue to experiment with it.

Classical Play Project Redux / 2017 – Increasing Productivity

Leave a comment

The dynamic in this year’s class is very different from last year’s, largely because of size. We went from 22 in the class last year to 7 in this class this year (a bit embarrassing to admit, I agree, but there is a valid reason that it’s that small and that it ran: because of a new scheduling system, 5 students dropped the day before school began because of a scheduling conflict).

So last Friday we had a particularly unproductive day. Now, granted, it was last block on a Friday and we had rotated out on Thursday, so that didn’t entirely surprise me, but it did make me think about my role in productivity and the lack thereof.

We meet in a conference room with a big table that essentially takes up the entire space, with me at the near end of the table and everyone else around (including the other end). But this set up means I have nowhere to go. I have to be at the table with the students; I can’t remove myself to let them work without my (passive) presence. Last year, with 22 in a traditional classroom, I could sit at the back and be out of sight but still within earshot and speak-shot.

So today I figured I would remove myself. I gave the students a few options: I could leave the room entirely and go to the room across the hall, or I could sit at the table with my headphones and be there but shut off. The students came up with a third solution: put me with my back to them in the room at the countertop with my headphones on. So that’s what I did. And it seemed to work out. I didn’t hear much but I could tell by the end that they were much farther along than they had been when we began.

I think we are very nervous about not only letting go but also the perception from others, either fellow teachers or administrators, about the amount that we are working. (I was secretly hoping that an administrator would pop in just for the shock value.) But ultimately we have to do what’s best for the students, and for this project my presence was hindering them. By removing my (figurative) presence, I let them be more productive. And I’m ok with that.

I had one of the students take some pictures of my set-up: