Chris Langdon | Swivl

Many UM faculty use video to “flip the classroom.” The idea behind this innovative teaching technique is that they post recorded lectures online for their students to watch in advance. Then students come prepared for class ready to discuss the topic at a higher level. So rather than covering the basics in class, faculty post these lower level conceptual materials online, and then discuss them in class.


Dr. Langdon a professor at the Rosenstiel school used technology to flip classroom. His Marine Biology class had a guest lecturer who wanted to present a statistics lecture for six different sections of their MSC232 Marine Biology Lab. Dr Langdon and his guest lecturer came up with a technical solution to allow the presenter to present only once. So rather than having this professor present the same lesson six different times they decided to record the presentation. This is called “lecture capture,” but they did so with a device called a Swivl.

Swivl allows an iPhone to capture video of the presenter but also includes a cloud video editing software. That is they uploaded the iPhone recording to the Swivl app, and then edited it online. This presenter had PowerPoint slides which could also be uploaded and those were edited into the presentation, producing a single MP4 file. This file was then downloaded and then posted within Blackboard for later playback and presentation to the six sections of Marine Biology. The class responded well to this technical solution. Students often prefer videos to live lectures, because they can play them when needed and use them to reinforce their learning and performance.

The Rosenstiel school first borrowed a Swivl and used it to record job applicant presentations. This created a permanent file for the chair to review, but it could be shared with others too. But they found they liked it so much that they wanted to purchase one ($350) and use it for online instruction. Obviously this technology has many uses, but it well suited for recording lectures.

Langdon YouTube

Video Presentation: Statistics boot camp for MSC232 with Will Drennan

Instructor Perspective

Dr Langdon thought the guest lecturer was very pleased and happy that they did not have to lecture six times for six different sections. More importantly those online lectures are reusable so may be used a year later in the same course. This flipped classroom technique promotes higher level discussions in the classroom, because the introductory course content has already been covered online. Faculty certainly appreciate this higher level of discussion.

Marine Biology faculty have previously recorded materials for their courses. On occasion they used an XLR camera which provided video files. However these files were quite large making it difficult for learners at a distance. For instance they once had a group of students in France who had bandwidth issues and had a difficult time with the large files.

The Swivl provided an alternative that was designed for online video. Online learners found that this solution produced files that were much more manageable. In addition it alleviates the need for travel in some instances. All in all, Dr Langdon was very positive and felt these videos were good for students who need to review materials especially if they have language difficulties.