Return to Headlines

High Ridge Elementary Uses Technology to Create Virtual Classroom for Homebound Student

High Ridge Elementary is using technology to create a virtual classroom for a student unable to attend class in person. High Ridge Elementary is using technology to create a virtual classroom for a student unable to attend class in person. The technology, called Swivl, is on loan from SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

“The Swivl is a robotic device that holds an iPad to record or live stream video while tracking the speaker,” explains Shelly Goedde, a teacher with Cardinal Glennon’s Shining Time School. “It is pretty simple to use. The Swivl is mounted on the tripod and then the iPad is placed onto the Swivl. The teacher carries or wears a small device called a marker which allows the Swivl to track his or her movement throughout the classroom.”

Swivl is used by schools, colleges and universities, and even for corporate training. According to the Swivl website, some of its uses within those areas not only include remote learning, as in this case, but performing unbiased assessments, lecture captures, focus groups, presentations, skill training, and more.

Goedde said that helping to normalize a patient’s hospital experience is to help them stay connected at their school, and Swivl does that.

“It tracks teachers’ movement in the classroom, plus additional markers provide an opportunity for patients to hear small group discussions throughout the classroom which helps them feel more engaged in what’s going on,” she said.

Goedde said that the Swivl can be used for live streaming purposes as well as recording the lesson for the student for use at a later time to watch on an iPad.

“With use of the live streaming app, the kids can raise their hands and they can control how much of them the class sees. For example, they can make it so that they and their surroundings are completely visible, they can make it so only their faces are visible and they have a cool fun background, or they can make themselves invisible.”

She added, “If the patients are not feeling well enough or are not able to participate by live streaming, the teachers can record the lessons. Consequently, the patients still get the lessons, but are able to control the timing of the lessons, so they can tune in when they are feeling well enough to absorb the information.”

Cost is not an issue for any of the students, schools, or school districts using the technology thanks to the funding of a private donor.

“Cardinal Glennon teachers researched numerous types of robotic technology and decided the Swivl was easy to use and would provide the services most needed,” Goedde said, “It was affordable so the hospital was able to purchase numerous robots, thus increasing the number of patients we could serve with the technology.”

HRE teacher John Baker wears the "marker" which enables Swivl to see the classroom. John Baker, a teacher at High Ridge Elementary, is using the technology in his classroom for his student. When asked about having the technology in class, he said “My feelings at first were of nervousness; ‘Oh my, people are going to be watching me, critiquing my craft, rating me as a teacher.’ Once I put the situation into perspective and knew that this isn't about me, this is for the betterment of one of my students and that I have a responsibility to provide her with the education that she deserves, the nerves just faded away.”

Baker likes how the technology makes his student feel included.

“I do believe the technology does a good job of including (the student) in classroom activities and interaction. She is able to greet the other students when they walk into the door. She has the same workbooks, textbooks, and activity sheets that everyone else has and works right along with us. She can listen to me read a story to the class, watch a video or lesson on the Smartboard.”

It’s not just Baker who likes the software. The students in the class do, too.

“The class is thrilled to have the technology in the class and always bummed when she has to exit for the day. We ask her questions and talk to her just like if she was physically in the room.”

Thanks to Swivl, those barriers are no longer an issue for students unable to attend class in person, enabling students to stay connected with their class from anywhere.