Case Study

School District Drives Change

With ViewSonic® ViewBoard® Interactive Displays

Company

Fenton Area Public Schools serves the community of Fenton, Michigan, located midway between the northwest suburbs of Detroit and the southeastern edge of Flint, with a population of around 11,300. The district encompasses one high school, one middle school, three elementary schools and a preschool campus. Committed to educational excellence, Fenton Area Public Schools collaborates with its community to deliver outstanding educational opportunities and to develop lifelong learners who are responsible citizens in a global society.

Overview

Problem:

  • Upgrade aging classroom projectors with a solution that maximizes learning benefits and drives positive change

Solution:

  • ViewSonic® ViewBoard® IFP7550 75” interactive flat panel displays with Slot-In PCs mounted on powered mobile carts

Result:

  • Initial pilot demonstrated profound teaching and learning changes in rooms with ViewSonic ViewBoard IFP7550 displays vs. projectors
  • Unanimously positive feedback led to installation in every district classroom
  • Teachers report greater student engagement, collaboration and enthusiasm
  • Slot-In PC enables teachers to run robust software and simultaneously use their ViewBoard and laptop for greater efficiency
  • Powered mobile carts enable creative use throughout the classroom & lowering for reach by young students

Kids got out of their seats. They collaborated. Multiple students stood around the display and worked together. Teachers expanded their teaching methods. Positive changes were clearly being driven by the capabilities of the ViewSonic interactive displays. At that point, we knew we were onto something with this technology.

– Kevin Powers, Technology Director

Problem

In 2016, Fenton Area Public Schools’ aging classroom projectors were due for an upgrade. The annual Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) conference provided the perfect venue for Technology Director, Kevin Powers, to investigate alternatives.

While projection was his initial priority, it was impossible for Powers to ignore the many interactive display solutions. As he visited exhibitors, Powers was struck by the profound implications interactive displays could have for tactile learners. Sure, touch technology was more expensive than projection, but it was clearly worth taking a closer look at the potential benefits it offered. What would it be like to enable kids at his schools to manipulate information during the learning process?

Thus, the 2017-18 school year pilot was born. First, Powers and his team put ViewSonic interactive touch displays in nine rooms at Fenton Senior High School. Fourteen rooms got brand new high definition ceiling-mounted projectors. Later, the IT team asked teachers: did anything change for you?

“We wanted to drive change with this investment,” said Powers. “And after talking with each group of teachers, it was clear that nothing changed in the projector rooms.”

In rooms with the ViewSonic interactive display, however, teachers reported profound change. “Kids got out of their seats. They collaborated. Multiple students stood around the display and worked together. Teachers expanded their teaching methods. Positive changes were clearly being driven by the capabilities of the ViewSonic interactive displays. At that point,” said Powers, “we knew we were onto something with this technology.”

Solution

Powers began the decision process armed with info. At the MACUL conference he talked to every vendor. Clearly, touchscreen was hot. He noted that many companies were now “dabbling” in this market. Ultimately, he chose to pilot ViewSonic product for peace of mind.

“I kept coming back to ViewSonic because they’d made monitors for a very long time,” said Powers. “It was clear that this was their core business; they weren’t just trying to crack into the hot education interactive market. This is a long-term pathway for ViewSonic.”

This longevity in display technology, he said, made the choice clear.

“My fear was getting something from a new company, or one that recently began promoting touchscreen monitors, and have it turn out to be junk,” said Powers. “And we didn’t want to invest in a product to find out a year later that the company was gone. We didn’t have to worry about that with ViewSonic.”

ViewSonic features like one-touch Google Drive™ save, slot-in PC options and mobile stands added impact to the choice. Powers’ research pointed to 75” as the sweet spot for a standard 30’ x 30’ classroom, and the IT team chose the ViewSonic® ViewBoard™ IFP7550 75” Ultra HD resolution 20-point touch screen for the 9-room pilot. Overwhelmingly positive results from the 9-room pilot led the team to a phase two test with teachers in the middle and elementary schools. This too produced nothing but positive feedback.

From there, Fenton Area Schools used bond money to purchase ViewSonic® ViewBoard™IFP7550 displays for every classroom district-wide, including the high school, middle school, elementary schools and the young 5s rooms in the early childhood building – for a total of 153 displays. The final installation included adjustable, powered mobile stands and ViewSonic slot-in PCs.

ViewBoard IFP7550:

  • Ultra HD Resolution
  • 20-point Multi-touch Interactive Screen
  • One-Touch Save to Google Drive
  • Out-of-Box Collaboration

ViewBoard Accessories used by Fenton Area Public Schools:

Result

Every step of the way, the Fenton IT team has had nothing but positive feedback from the teaching staff and students.

“Basically, the feedback has been astronomical,” said Powers. “This is really a home run for our schools.”

From music and art to social studies and math, teachers in every area report greater attention and participation. As one 4th grade teacher put it: “They can't wait to get their hands on it.”

The ability to expand the ways in which they teach is another common theme: Quickly pulling up info to answer questions and enhance lessons; writing directly on top of any content; presenting in exciting new ways. Other consistent accolades include the sharp, “larger than life” images and the ability to easily see the screen without having to turn the lights off.

“I really like the crisp, clear picture. It’s great for sharing artwork and giving examples,” said a middle school art teacher, “I’m also impressed by how well it’s viewed from all areas of the classroom.”

As he conducts training with the teaching staff, Powers hears much of this feedback first hand. The most-loved feature, he said, is probably the ability to quickly save content to Google Drive.

“Many of our teachers use Google Classroom and the ViewSonic IFP7550 enables teachers to capture their notes (or anything on the screen) and upload it to Google Drive using the cloud sync tool,” said Powers. “Additionally, ViewBoard 2.1 lets our teachers create lesson boards that can be printed to PDF and easily uploaded to Google Drive for posting in Google Classroom.”

As a 5th-grade math teacher noted, “I love that I can do my entire math lesson notes on the display, save it, and then send it to students that were absent."

Beyond the collaboration-building, instruction-enhancing multiple touch capabilities, Powers said the slot-in PC and powered mobile stands have added important capabilities.

“During the pilot, we started out with Android and hooking the displays up to our own PCs,” said Powers. “Then we tried the slot-in PC and found it to be a more robust solution. It gives teachers more options. For example, we have a teacher running a graphic calculator emulation. Our yearbook teacher runs the Adobe creative suite and uses the display to bring up page designs for discussion. Having the Windows flexibility with the slot-in PC is tremendous.”

The mobile stands let teachers move the displays throughout their classroom space – tapping into the benefits of a flexible classroom environment. While originally intending to use fixed mobile stands, Powers said they quickly discovered that the youngest students couldn’t reach the display.

“When we saw how terrific it was for students to be able to manipulate content – how well this was driving success and achievement – we needed to make sure our youngest students had access to that tech too,” said Powers. “ViewSonic, being a real player in this market, had a powered stand that lowered the display to 8” off the ground. That solved that problem. The powered stand is amazing. It makes the display friendly and inviting to young students to walk up, grab a stylus and get working on it."

Both features have been widely embraced by teachers for enhancing their teaching abilities. As noted by the art teacher:

“I really like having a separate computer from my own so that I can grade/check my email while playing a learning tutorial on the screen, and I like that it is on wheels and is mobile.”

Next on the agenda, said Powers, is ongoing professional development to help teachers maximize the impact of the new tool.

“The ViewSonic IFP7550s immediately made a positive impact,” said Powers. “But we know there’s so much more the teachers can do with them as they gain experience with the displays. Right now, I’m introducing Share with Air Class. We’re excited to see where this takes us as the year progresses.”

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