Orange County explores high-tech remote learning tools

Orange County School District officials want kids to feel like they are inside the classroom even when at home in front of their computer.  

Administrators unveiled OCPDLaunchED@Home as one possible option for students in the fall.

District leaders showed a video from a company called Swivl during a school board workshop Tuesday. They say the camera can track teachers as they move around the classroom and kids at home able to watch and interact in real-time.  

“We’re certainly seeing an uptick in interest in what we do,” said Swivl CEO Brian Lamb.

He says the company has worked with more than 40,000 schools over 10 years.

“We have microphone systems that help capture not only what the teacher is saying but what students that are in the classroom are saying and then, of course, we bring audio from the students that are at home or wherever they may be and play that for the classroom here so they can foster that discussion,” Lamb said.

So how much will all of this cost? OCPS says it’ll be $1.4 million for Swivl bases and the iPads that go with them. The district says that could be covered by CARES ACt funding but the plan still needs to be approved by both the school board and the state.

Parents will likely be choosing from OCPSLaunchED@Home, Orange County Virtual School, and sending their kids back in person five days a week.

“For me, both of us… we both work. So when I have them both home, they’re going to be home alone,” parent Jody Bennett said about her sons.

“I don’t feel safe with my daughter being at school right now,” said parent Ree Doan.

The school board is expected to make final decisions about ‘back to school’ next week.