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Teaching in a Virtual World


In preparation for the 2020-21 academic year, the St. Mary’s Academy admin team forged a Back-to-School Task Force that sought to examine every aspect of school, ensuring readiness for various reopening scenarios, including both in-person and remote instruction. Among the many initiatives to enhance health and safety for the St. Mary’s community, the Task Force approved the purchase of technology designed to Livestream classes from the school building and enhance the remote learning experience for students. This technology, called Swivl, uses a camera to track teacher movement around the classroom, allowing them to move freely and offering students a 360° view of the teaching environment, while increasing engagement.

“In this challenging time of distanced learning, the student experience is most important,” shares Assistant Principal of Curriculum Design and Instruction Liane Rae. She notes Swivl’s ability to pull in student voices from those who are learning from home for the day as critical, so “their experience is not separate from students who are hearing, learning and collaborating in the classroom.” The capacity to integrate at-home and in-person learning via Swivl fosters community—an essential part of education and St. Mary’s mission. Rae adds that this technology “is more sustainable for teachers. Swivl’s livestreaming abilities are far more engaging and teachers don’t have to teach the same thing twice, once for in-person learners and again for at-home learners.” Teaching live showcases the active problem solving fostered in the St. Mary’s classroom, as “we can't filter education down to pre-recorded video session that we get to edit,” explains Rae. Swivl is an exciting investment and further deepens St. Mary’s commitment to providing a rich and meaningful education.

A valuable investment, Swivl equips teachers for the current state of teaching as well as for our future. Adopting Swivl grants accessibility for at-home learners in the time of Covid-19, and for students who are medically fragile, disabled, or displaced by weather conditions in the future. As leaders in innovation and technology, St. Mary’s is proud to take this step towards the future of education. Until classes convene back at 5th Avenue, this new technology brings excitement and a step towards the St. Mary’s classroom known and loved.


Above: Dr. Desphande demonstrates a Biology lab to at-home learners with the Swivl Robot. 

Above: Students learning at-home with the Swivl Robot.