EyeLearn – To Calibrate or Not to Calibrate
You have an EyeLearn system in your grade 3 classroom. You want to try it with Sarah, a student who is non-verbal, in a wheelchair, with a complex array of physical and sensory challenges. But even though you’ve been working with Sarah for a few months, you’re not even really sure how well she can see.
You want to give Sarah her best chance of success – does that include calibrating the system to her?
Does recalibrating make her more likely to be successful to learn with this form of access or less?
Calibrating is boring, let an adult do it
If you are going to be using the EyeLearn primarily with early learning activities, you shouldn’t have to calibrate for each specific student. Out of all the things you can do on an EyeLearn calibrating is probably the least interesting. That's not such a big deal for an adult -- it only takes a few seconds. But for someone like Sarah for whom this is all new and she probably has no idea that this is leading to something much more interesting, calibration can become a real obstacle.
In our experience, when you get your EyeLearn it's best to run a calibration with an adult with fairly average vision -- both eyes targeting preferably without glasses or contacts – to create a base profile. That base calibration should work very well for most students.
When you’re working with big targets and simple activities, the goal is to get a user like Sarah started quickly with success. Calibration can be tedious, and the incremental improvement in accuracy will likely not make a difference in the sort of forgiving tasks used by your learners.
Now if your user is someone who will be working with a keyboard or communication boards with many choices -- that’s a different story. More choices on the screen means smaller targets for the eyes and a need for greater accuracy.
Or you are working with a user who may have the functional use of one eye or some other obvious issue. Again, a specific calibration for that user may indeed be beneficial.
But because of the large targets of EyeLearn activities, the basic calibration from an adult should work fine for most of your students.
That also means that you absolutely do not have to re-calibrate every day. If the calibration is working well -- whether it was done with the user or you're using a generic base calibration -- don’t mess with it.
The most important part about successfully making the set up work, we’ve found again and again, is not calibration but positioning.
When you first get the EyeLearn, play with it yourself and with other adults experimenting with positioning the camera to the user.
With a colleague, play with the EyeLearn in lots of different positions:
- slouch in a chair
- lean forward
- sit upright
- lie in a bolster and point down etc.
Fiddle with the mount in all potential directions and tilts. If you’ve got a Rolling EyeLearn, try it in different areas of your classroom.
Bad positioning can disguise itself as bad calibration. Some users will sit up straight but as their energy slackens they may slouch down or away from the camera. These changes in position are easily accommodated by a physical adjustment of the screen/camera unit; that's exactly what the EyeLearn's easily adjustable mount was designed for.
So the rule of thumb is… (to torturously paraphrase William Lyon Mackenzie King):
Calibrate only if necessary, but don’t necessarily calibrate!
Position, POSITION. POSITION
- Bogdan Pospielovsky