App of the Week – Swivl

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.28.25 AMThis week’s app of the week is the Swivl app. Early this week we featured a review of the most recent CETL purchase, which was the Swivl device. It is a device that when paired with users’ iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches allows them to record lectures and slides while the device moves 360 along with the presenter. The app itself is free. However, the Swivl is not. If you would like to use the Swivl in your class you may reserve it at the CETL. In addition, you will need a to create a Swivl cloud account. To learn more about that please read the post  we wrote about it. To learn more about this app and device watch the video below. If you have used this app in your life or in your classroom please let us know by commenting on this post! We would love to learn about your personal experiences and we would love to share them with other Texas Wesleyan folks!

Using Swivl

This past week the CETL has acquired a lecture capture device called Swivl. It allows the user to record 360 video and audio with iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. To learn about it works please watch the video below:

In the interest of really testing it out, I created a video myself. I followed all the steps and created a slide presentation that you can see by going to this link: or below with the slideshare embed feature plus a video to go along with with (embedded below via youtube):

*** 9/25/2014 3pm UPDATE: To see the presentation (It is working! click here)


Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 10.44.36 AM

Image of the email notification.

After creating this video, Swivl provided me with the option to save the video to my camera, upload to the Swivl cloud, to preview, edit or delete it. When previewing the video from my iPad I could see both video captures: the slide presentation and the video capture side by side. When selecting to send it to the Swivl cloud I have encountered several issues. First, the processing time for the video, which was only about 5 minutes long, was super long: almost 12 hours. I received an email (seen below) notification when it was ready, but if you are recording a 50 minute lecture it would take too long to process. I sucessfully was able to download the video to my iPad’s camera roll and I was able to upload the video to youtube (embedded above). However, when I would go on the Swivl cloud to see how my video would look like an error message appeared: “The video could not be loaded, either because the server or network failed or because the format is not supported,” (pictured below), which is odd since I created the video with the software they have provided. I tried to re-upload the recording. This time around the processing time was a lot faster, but I still had the error message in my video.

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 10.50.36 AM

The image of the error message, which you have already seen if you have clicked on the link to my shared Swivl presentation.

I tried to use the support tab on the website, but that didn’t seem to work either. I tweeted to the company (see tweet below) and you can see their twitter response below as well.

I will email support[at]swivl[dot]com as per their suggestion and update the outcome of that here. But ultimately the video recording capability of the Swivl was really good. The quality of it when previewed on the iPad is excellent and I assume that when you see them on the cloud it is great as well. When saved to the camera roll and uploaded onto YouTube the video quality was compromised. Unfortunately, when you save the presentation (video+slides) you cannot save to your iPad camera roll, which would bypass the “network problem” or “not supported video format.” Yet, the Swivl cloud is now in its beta phase, perhaps it will get better from more updates. If so, it will be a great solution for mobile 360 degree lecture capture.

The email notification with the link to your shared swivl presentation.

The email notification with the link to your shared swivl presentation.

*** 9/25/2014 3pm UPDATE: The issue was resolved and to see the presentation click here.

By the way, when you are done with your video you may share it by getting the public link (the hyperlink destination found on the “click here” from the paragraph above) or you may email the presentation directly to the person you want to share this with via email. They will receive an email notification like the image featured here.

Teaching Thought — Note Taking as Critical Thinking

  • Recent research shows students who take written notes as opposed to on a laptop have higher retention of material. We ought to encourage quality note taking in our classes for learning and critical thinking.

A recent article in Scientific American is an excellent summary of research on how students take notes and how that method impacts their rendition of material. Simply put, students who take notes on their laptops retain and remember less than students who write their notes by hand. This is because, the researchers hypothesize, students who take notes by hand are forced to synthesize while writing. Those who type on the laptop can type faster than they write. Thus, they record more verbatim speech from the instructor.  In other words, They transcribe; they don’t really take notes. When students are forced to go slower due to the limitations of pen and paper, they must think more about the material as they prioritize what is being said in order to write down the vital bits. While laptop users took more notes, those who wrote out their notes by hand took better notes. “In each study, however, those who wrote out their notes by hand had a stronger conceptual understanding and were more successful in applying and integrating the material than those who used took notes with their laptops.”

We don’t often draw an immediate connection between note-taking in class and critical thinking. That connection seems more distant; taking notes in class becomes the foundation for critical thinking. Material gained from a lecture is just basic concepts, coming in on the lower level of Bloom’s taxonomy. The critical thinking happens later, when students take those notes and do something with them — use them to solve problems or construct an essay. Except that’s not what the research suggests. Students who are taking notes by hand are engaging in critical thinking as they take notes. This seems counter-intuitive until one reads why the reseachers think those pen and paper notetakers learn more: “[students] listen, digest, and summarize so that they can succinctly capture the essence of the information.  Thus, taking notes by hand forces the brain to engage in some heavy “mental lifting,” and these efforts foster comprehension and retention.” Summarizing and synthesizing are higher order thinking skills, a level up from sheer memorization. Note taking by hand makes students do that in the moment, while new information is coming at them.
What does this mean for classroom practice? Should we all ban laptops? Not necessarily. They certainly have utility as a research tool. I think the real take away for classroom practice comes in questions we can ask ourselves and our students about how they take notes, how we facilitate that note taking, and what happens afterwards. Do we share note taking strategies and research (like the Scientific American article) with our students? Do we pause when lecturing, taking a minute or two to let our students catch up, reflect on what they’ve written, and maybe even share it with a partner? Are we discouraging the critical thinking that happens when students take notes by hand by posting our own notes and/or presentations for students to access?
I have thoughts about all these questions, particularly that last one (which I think is the trickiest) that I hope to explore in the coming weeks. In the meantime, do you do anything to encourage a particular style of note taking in your students?

App of the Week – Storehouse

storehouseThis week’s app of the week is the Storehouse app. Storehouse is a free visual storytelling app for iOS that allows you to create stories using a combination of images, videos, and written narrative. Once you are done creating your story you can share it through the app or through your social media accounts. To download it for iOS for free click HERE. To learn more about this app, watch the video below. If you have used this app in your life or in your classroom please let us know by commenting on this post! We would love to learn about your personal experiences and we would love to share them with other Texas Wesleyan folks!

P’s of Inquiry

P’s of Inquiry CETL Workshop

About the CETL

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Texas Wesleyan University (CETL) promotes a student-centered university by providing resources and professional growth opportunities to faculty on enhancing instructional practice, integrating technology, and promoting essential student skills.

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