Recently I was given the chance to test out the Expand Lens by Swivl for free. I have been a big proponent of the Swivl robot for a while now and was very pleased to be one of their Swivl Video Pioneers. I think that teacher reflection using video is something we should be promoting more and the Swivl makes it much easier to record classroom interactions. By recording classroom experiences, we can use this as a learning opportunity for teachers. Teachers can easily record their classroom and then with the help of another teacher or instructional coach, they can reflect on what happened and how they can improve and learn.
Quick Overview of the Expand Lens
The Expand Lens builds upon that by providing protection to the iPad and the use of the wide angle lens should improve many recording situations. The Expand Lens is better than almost all of the cases I have used with my iPads and I have had iPads since the day the first one came out. It matches the grey covers well which is great since that is the main color I always buy. The case provides extra protection with some shock-absorbing inserts that you can add inside the case.
I have an iPad Pro 9.7″ and the case fits perfectly even though it is labeled as for the iPad Air 2 and iPad Air 1 since they are the same size. I use the Smart Cover from Apple which fits perfectly with this as the case covers the sides and the back but allows for the Smart Cover to be used with it. (Since this was designed for the iPad Airs, you will notice that 2 of the speaker holes are covered since the Pro has 4 speakers where the Air has only 2 but the sound difference was not noticeable at all to me.)
The Expand Lens also comes with a wide angle lens that includes a stand that fits around the lens so you can easily remove it from the lens and have your iPad stand upright using the stand. This is a well built lens and it fits perfectly onto the case. I have tried a couple of other wide angle lenses but they do not fit nicely and you can see some issues with the images they produce but the images I get with this lens is as good as without, meaning the lens has no imperfections that will affect the image quality. The fact that the stand fits perfectly around the lens so you can have it readily available when you need it is very awesome!
The wide angle lens will allow for more flexible ways to record video. In order to capture the whole classroom or multiple people, if you are doing a close up video, you would have to move the iPad farther away. There is a slot on the back of the case that allows the lens to quickly attach and stay in place, which is important for when the Swivl robot starts to swivel. The wide angle lens allows you to capture more of the room without having to put it in the way back of the classroom.
This case should make it much easier to record and should mean you have more options where you place the Swivl to record the classroom. In the pictures below, the left image is without the lens and the right images is with the lens. While this was just in my home office, you can see a much wider perspective which will translate to a very large difference when used in a classroom or meeting space.
I am looking forward to using the Expand Lens in the classroom and in the meeting rooms that we use. We use the Swivl to record classroom interactions but we also use it to record our professional learning situations so that we can share them out and reflect on our own learning later. The wide angle lens is going to improve the amount of the room that we can see while giving us the flexibility to place the Swivl where we want, not where we have to in order to record as much as we want.
This should also improve the videos that our students make when using the iPad. Using this in connection with the Recap app would work well for students so they can easily record themself and a partner speaking at the same time without having to pass the iPad back and forth in order to get them both in the camera. The extra protection provided by the case will work well with our younger students and the stand should make it easier for them to record since they won’t have to hold onto the iPad while they record.
I am also looking forward to using the case and lens when I am conducting a Google Hangout using my iPad. I used to have to use my laptop for this because the front facing camera on the iPad is not wide enough so either the iPad is too far away or you have to place it right in front of your face, this will allow me to use it in a more comfortable way which should lead to better video experiences. Anything that makes it easier to record quality video is a great thing as far as I am concerned because there is so many ways we can be using video in a very effective way in the learning environment.