Interactive panels provide immersive learning experience
The Victorian College for the Deaf (VCD) is a specialist school that teaches the Victorian curriculum to deaf students. Through a rich, deaf-specific educational program, the college equips deaf young people with the skills, knowledge and experience for a prosperous future in the hearing world.
The only bilingual college of its kind in Australia, the VCD focuses on developing strong communication, literacy and numeracy skills, with Auslan as the instructional language and English as the language for reading, writing and speaking.
The college has occupied the same vibrant and verdant St Kilda Road campus since it was founded in 1860, but today is a modern teaching establishment that utilises technology to provide a safe and engaging learning environment for its 60 students.
Keeping students safe
As with any school, student safety is regarded as a top priority. The college must be able to manage evacuation and lockdown situations and to communicate safety information. There is also a requirement to signal lesson start and end times to both students and staff.
“Most schools have auditory PA systems,” said Brenton Wade, VCD’s IT manager, “but with all students and many of the staff here being deaf, traditional PA systems, alarms and a ‘school bell’ don’t do the job.”
The college needed a facility to quickly and effectively impart information to classrooms.
The VCD aims to actively engage students in lessons and make learning an immersive experience. With deaf students, all teaching is via visual media, so whiteboards, projected PowerPoint slides and worksheets are crucial.
“You can never have too much whiteboard space,” said college Principal Marg Tope, “but we wanted to make our teaching tools less clunky and more engaging.”
The college opted for Clevertouch interactive panels after seeing ASI demonstrate the product at an education technology conference.
“ASI supplied not just the technology, but support throughout the entire project: consultation in designing the solution, the hardware, professional development and training for our teachers, and building the solution into the school IT and teaching ecosystem,” said Wade.
The solution consists of 75″, 4K resolution panels that are mounted on portable, height-adjustable stands. Features include dual pens, connectivity to the college’s network and the ability to instantly save documents to the school’s Google Cloud platform. The panels have 20 points of touch, which means that several students can interact with them at once.
Every teacher has their own style and the success of technology relies on teachers being able to adapt it to the way they teach. Based on 35 years’ experience providing technology solutions for education, ASI provided VCD’s teachers with the confidence that the panels could be used to complement — not dictate — their teaching style. ASI provided training on how to use the panels to achieve the best learning outcomes.
Safety information, such as notice of an evacuation or lockdown situation, can immediately be sent to all staff from any associated device.
The Clevertouch panels act as a ‘visual PA’ system, with all panel content managed from a central point. During the pandemic, the college plays handwashing reminder videos to the classrooms. The panels also perform the important role of ‘school bell’, signalling the end of lessons.
ASI helped teachers understand how to engage students via the Clevertouch. Teachers now use the pens, for example, to create a ‘vocabulary competition’ with students writing their words on the panel.
Digital learning records
The panel allows teachers to take real-time digital records as evidence of student work or to share with parents.
Teacher notes for PowerPoint presentations ensure all teachers deliver the same material. The panels allow the notes to be visible on the teacher’s laptop, but not to the students.
A long-term, fully integrated solution
ASI’s technology and education experience ensures the college has a solution for the long term — one that will integrate with and enhance their entire teaching program.
Once teaching staff are comfortable with the panel fundamentals, additional training will be provided to illustrate how to build more of the curriculum around the panels. This includes an in-depth look at the included software, such as the Lynx lesson builder and Snowflake, a teachers’ community for sharing curriculum-linked lessons, building bespoke quizzes and other interactive activities.
“We’re just at the beginning of finding out how to be clever with Clevertouch,” said Tope.
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