Houston-area school looks to make virtual learning interactive with new device

As students report to their virtual classrooms, schools are looking to make the learning experience as interactive as possible.

St. Pius X High School is giving all of its teachers a device called Swivl, which they said will make virtual learning more engaging for students.

The device is on a stand and the teacher's iPad plugs into it. The teacher wears a microphone around their neck and can place microphones around the classroom. The Swivl picks up on where the sound is coming from and rotates to show who is talking.

Sarah Vincent, a math teacher at St. Pius X, taught summer school to nine students in-person and five virtually. She said the device allowed students in the classroom and online to interact.

"You can have the kids online come through the speaker," Vincent said. "Sometimes, the kids online would have a really good question and the kids in the classroom could hear it."

Vincent noticed that having the Swivl allowed students to build a deeper understanding of the material because they were able to discuss it.

"It allows kids at home to gain a more natural sense of being in a classroom, as opposed to just watching me on the camera," Vincent said.

Head of the School, Carmen Armistead said that after the spring semester when they had to switch to virtual learning on a dime, they knew they had to do better for the fall.

Armistead said it is important for students to feel part of the lesson and not just like they are watching it.

"Students can talk to one another," Armistead said. "They can be placed in groups for group work and students have the option at home to talk with their teachers real time."

All students at St. Pius X started school virtually on Monday, but they will have the option to report in-person on Sept. 8.

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