Mitchell Welch: About Teachscape and Swivl

Jun 8, 2015 by


An Interview with Mitchell Welch, Senior Account Manager, Teachscape: About Teachscape and Swivl 

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) First of all, can you tell us a bit about yourself, your education and your experiences?

I was born, raised, and now live in San Antonio, TX.  I have a wonderful family—my wife, Aimee, and two beautiful daughters, Ava (9) and Lily (10).  I have more than 13 years of public school experience that includes teaching and administrative positions. My public school career was dedicated to teaching science and mathematics, and guiding schools as an assistant principal and principal at elementary, middle, and high school. I have worked as a national consultant developing, designing and implementing numerous programs focused on leadership, mentoring, classroom management, parent involvement, video implementation, and reflective coaching. I have also had a wide range of experience implementing programs and software, from individual institutions (Higher-Ed and K-12) to state-wide implementations. 

2) Why is video-based professional development important and how do you define it?

Video-based professional development can be used to serve as a focal point for teachers’ collaborative exploration of the central activities of teaching. By choosing video clips, posting reflective questions, and facilitating productive conversations, facilitators can guide instructors to examine central aspects of learning and instruction.

Video-based coaching is a two-way process between the educator and instructional coach where both parties collect and exchange formative data in order to improve student mastery, decrease re-teaching, and increase instructional precision.

3) Can you tell us about Swivl?

Swivl was founded in 2010 with a vision of making video a more useful tool with robotics. The company was one of the first major crowdfunding projects for hardware and its dedication to customers has paid off with rapid growth. Early last year Swivl released their second-generation product, offering increased features and functionality for improved video and lesson capture. The company now has operations that span the globe, from Silicon Valley to Kiev, Ukraine, and Hong Kong, China. Swivl is backed by a world class team of investors including Grishin Robotics, Innovation Works, Newbury Ventures, Kima Ventures, Zhen Fund, and many more.   

4) Can you tell us about Teachscape?

Since its founding in 1999, Teachscape has been dedicated to systematically improving expertise in education. As an early pioneer of both video-based digital learning and technology-based classroom walkthroughs, Teachscape has partnered with the leading experts in K–12 and higher education to develop tools that enable educators to continuously develop their practice.Teachscape’s software tools, online content, and services enable educators to assess their skills and competencies, collaborate with colleagues, and build their expertise.  

5) What exactly is this Swivl Robot? What does one look like and how much does one cost?

Swivl is a robotic device that works with smartphones and tablets to record classroom instruction, presentations, etc. It tracks the movement and captures audio of a teacher or student, who wears a small marker with a built-in microphone. The basic Swivl unit costs $399, while a Classroom Bundle, which includes a Swivl Robot, two markers, carrying case, floor stand and charge cable, costs $599. Swivl is compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, and DSLR cameras.

6) I have been on the campus of Texas Tech in Lubbock, quite frequently, and I understand that they are using this methodology. What have they found?

The teaching preparation program is having a lasting effect on the city of Lubbock and the surrounding area. The teacher candidates participate in a year-long clinical experience (student teaching placement), using video to capture evidence of the development of professional skills (uploaded to the Teachscape cloud), using the TAP rubric to facilitate professional performance and development of reflective skills through observation (video and live), and reforming the educational coursework for their undergraduate studies. This type of approach has empowered instructors at Texas Tech to “chunk” their instructional competencies and standards into aligned and strategic strands.  It has facilitated the growth and development of the teacher candidates, administrators, and instructional coaches through University and District partnerships.  

7) How could this be considered as “evidence-based professional development”?

This video-based approach with teacher candidates allows them to measure the impact of their professional learning on their daily work and on their students’ learning and retention of skills.  This process has given the teachers candidates the ability to identify the purpose of formative and summative data, allowed them to make data-based decisions, and make correlations between student and instructional evidence that informs and measures the impact of professional learning. The teacher candidates are able to facilitate their students’ needs based on evidence and encourage a continued inquiry into their teaching. This type of professional development encourages the teacher candidate to evaluate the impact of their reflective practice on their students’ learning and skills mastery. 

8) Is this for pre-service or in-service teachers or both?

This is for both.

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