Showa Elementary School, Japan

Experience A Realistic Hybrid Lesson with The DL30

  • Showa Elementary School Affiliated to Showa Women's University
  • An affiliated school of Showa Women's University located in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. The number of children is 655 (2021). With the founding spirit of "Becoming the Light of the World" set by the founder, Enkichi Hitomi, we are practicing education that nurtures people who are full of love, understanding, and harmony.

    Founded in 1954.
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Experience a realistic hybrid lesson by utilizing DL30.

Showa Elementary School in located in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. The number of children is about 650, and there are 18 classes among all 3 classes in the first grade. In April 2021, we introduced an iPad for each child.

Teacher Okuma (4th grade, chief of morals department) is said to have many opportunities to experiment with ICT equipment as a member of the 9-member ICT education promotion team at the school.

The school has introduced one remote camera DL30 with AI automatic tracking function. We interviewed teachers Taro Okuma and Etsuo Kato from the same school who started using the camera.

At school, a 4th grade hybrid class that’s held in their native language started using the distance learning camera. In this class, the DL30 is installed at the back of the classroom, and the image is displayed on a large monitor in the front left of the room. On that day, there were three children at home that participated in the online class via Zoom.

"I put the DL30 behind the classroom because I sometimes move around and talk near the children's seats. And I thought the children at home would be able to see the whole classroom this way. I was right," said Okuma.

Just like what Okuma said, you can see the remote camera follow the movement of the teacher as he moves to the left and right of the whiteboard. Even if the teacher steps away from the front of the classroom, the DL30 is still able to capture him and zoom up close. Essentially, the camera is "locking on" the teacher.

The remote camera DL30 has a function that recognizes the shape of a person through AI by a person detection function which automatically tracks a specific target or area. The targeted teacher does not need to wear any special equipment to maintain the automatic tracking. After turning on the camera, AI will recognize the first captured subject and start automatic tracking, so it is easy to use without any hassle. With the touch of a button, a so-called "one-operation selfie camera" can be enabled.

Excellent tracking and 12x optical zoom convey the atmosphere of the classroom.

The DL30 will firmly track the teacher even if they move around in the classroom. During the lesson, even if a child crosses or blocks the teacher, the camera will still continue to detect and target the teacher. This is because AI inputs information such as coordinates obtained from the shape of the body (e.g., the position of the shoulder) and a vector such as the direction the target is heading towards. Even if the teacher wears a mask or has his back facing the camera, he can still be tracked.

The tracking function of DL30 has two modes. The first is "presenter mode", which automatically adjusts the whole body or upper body of the tracked target to the center of the screen. You can easily change the target via the remote control. The second one is "Zone mode". While the camera is automatically tracking the target, the angle of view changes when the target enters a predetermined shooting position. Unlike the presenter mode, you can focus on the content you want to share, such as the blackboard, and distribute as you like.

"During the class, we went around the room as the children work on their group assignments, giving them necessary advice while the remote camera kept track of us," said Okuma.

"I used to mainly use Zoom. One Zoom account can set up two screens at the same time. For example, I can set up one screen for the DL30 to track me while the other screen can project the whiteboard or display materials at all times. By using both "moving" and "still” approaches, you will feel like you are actually in the classroom. With this, I believe we can offer online lessons with almost the same quality as that of in-person."

It is said that children who participated online also connected with the class by wearing earphones. Since the teacher's movement and the entire classroom can be seen through the screen, it seems that the children who participated online could understand what their classmates were doing and could feel a sense of unity and connection with the rest of the class even from home.

For children who participated online, unattended screens can easily cause them to lose focus. Hence, from the viewpoint of maintaining the motivation to learn, it can be said that the benefits are high.

The DL30 is equipped with a high-quality camera with an optical 12x zoom. With smooth movement without distortion, it is possible to take wide-angle shots that capture the entirety of the horizontal blackboard, as well as medium- and short-distance shots centered on the teacher. There are two patterns, one that zooms so that the upper body of the person is in the center, and another that zooms in the center of the whole body, both of which can be executed by AI. Because of the high-definition image quality, it is also appealing to be able to clearly project the characters on the board even from a distance.

Expected to be utilized according to the characteristics of each subject and event.

DL30 can be widely used based on the characteristics of each subject and event. For example, science, experiments, and home economics all seem to be suitable for situations where you’d want to show the teacher's hands. Other examples include cooking training procedures or shooting while tracking the movements of a person performing a creative dance in physical education or a vaulting box.

It will also be effective for events like athletic meets. While educational institutions are increasing the opportunities to shoot videos for online distribution and recording, it was also necessary to place three video cameras on the ground and operate each with a person. With DL30, you only need one person. For example, the school used the DL30 at the graduation ceremony by setting up the position of the camera’s preset points in advance. By doing so, you only need one person to press "1" and "2" to easily shoot from wide-angle to close-up shots.

Teacher Okuma says he wants to use it for open classes.

"It's difficult at the moment to hold a study group with teachers from other schools, but I'd like to use this remote camera to ‘relay the images from a child's perspective’ when I open my class to the public."

Teacher Kato also hopes to provide lessons based on the situation of the children. She says for the children who want to go to school for a variety of reasons but can’t, distance teaching may help them keep up. This way, it would make the school and classes more interesting for the children, allowing them to also learn well. The DL30 seems to be able to build this kind of new mechanism.

Creating new value by multiplying ICT equipment.

Teacher Taro Okuma (4th grade, Chief of Morality Department)
Showa Elementary School
Affiliated to Showa Women's University

The school is currently conducting comprehensive learning through the use of ICT. In order to give children the experience of connecting with society, we contacted external experts and used ICT equipment to let children gain new awareness and in-depth learning for them to think and act. As a result of these practices, Professor Okuma won the Best Newcomer Award from the Japan Digital Textbook Society last summer.

Because of my experience with Covid-19, I have more options for lessons using ICT. Professor Kato says that he takes that positively. Teacher Okuma also realized that "what children are looking for is a connection" through trial and error in online classes and hybrid classes. The importance of an environment where we can be aware of each other's existence in any situation – this was what the teachers experienced in Covid-19.

"If only there was one camera in the average classroom. The number of ICT devices is increasing steadily, but I often think that multiplication is more effective than addition, even with Zoom x DL30 and fixed point camera x DL30. But it's a good match. I think that the possibilities will expand depending on the combination. It's a new type of tool that has never existed before, so it's really exciting to think that it's better to do this when creating lessons.

DL30 allows you to create connections with children who are far apart with the sense of realism of being in the actual classroom. I hope that various classroom practices will further increase knowledge and bring many benefits to both the children and teachers.

* This content is an authorized re-edited version of an article published online.

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