“We didn’t have a big buyer’s remorse. Obviously, it’s a huge price commitment, but we wanted to provide a high-quality education, regardless of the circumstances.” These were the words of Mrs. Anne Kramer, Ed-tech chair, as she looked back on Seattle Prep’s use of Swivls during hybrid learning last year.
After learning that a full capacity classroom of socially distanced students was not achievable, a solution to educate both at-home and in-person students needed to be found. A group of 10-15 faculty including Mrs. Kramer and Director of IT Mr. Phil Dietrich, met with Jesuit IT directors through the Jesuit Schools Network to get the ball rolling.
Kramer noted that, without transforming the school into a “broadcasting studio of sorts,” the Swivl- a device that connects to a tablet to broadcast video and audio- stood out as the best option.
The administration made this decision after twelve long weeks of research and discussion. The top-selling point was the variety of mics the Swivl included, which helped unite classrooms, both Kramer and Dietrich explained.
Last school year, the Ed-tech team spent most of their time supporting teachers using the new technology. “I won’t sugarcoat it in the sense that it’s a lot to manage a surface, a Zoom call, a Swivl, an iPad, projecting, and having students in the room,” remarked Kramer.
When trying to have all these pieces work well together, it is crucial to have people that know how to manage each piece, which was something the Ed-tech team focused on. The result was that it worked well: “there were days that were glitchy and frustrating for teachers, but nothing unexpected with a teaching transition this big,” remarked Dietrich.
A few months into using Swivls, the administration compared notes with other schools that chose to take different routes for synchronous school. Dietrich explained that “the information we got back made us very confident that the path we chose was relatively solid because we heard some really distressing scenarios from other schools.”
As Prep shifted back to in-person learning, the need for Swivls dissolved, bringing an abundance of 40 iPads that were purchased for the Swivls. Prior to initially purchasing the devices, Dietrich went to each department to survey any need for iPads. The responses were positive—the Art, Admissions, and Athletics departments all awaited new iPads at the end of hybrid learning and have since been granted them.
As for the Swivls, they are currently in storage; however, Kramer explained that they had been around about ten years before covid and are used for teachers who need to record themselves teaching for their master’s degree or national board certification. They could additionally be used for admissions videos or tours of the school in the future.
Although highly doubtful of going back to hybrid learning anytime soon, both Kramer and Dietrich stand confident in Prep’s decision to use Swivls with iPads both during distance learning and in the future if needed.