St Michael’s College is a K-12 co-educational Catholic College in the Adelaide suburb of Henley. With a total enrolment of around 2,000 students across two campuses, the school is one of the largest in South Australia. Ashley Morrison is the school’s ICT Manager. He oversees all the technology in the school, from laptops to displays and AV systems to networks.
In late 2016, the school was in the process of constructing a brand-new building focused on senior—specifically year-12—learning. “Part of our early design philosophy was to look at some modern pedagogy,” says Morrison. “The one direction my principal gave me was to free the teacher from sitting at the front of the classroom. He had seen other schools—mainly interstate—where teachers were unshackled from the desk at the front and were out interacting with students during class. He posed me the challenge of enabling our teachers to do that.”
If teachers were to be freed from the front of the class, St Michael’s College needed a wireless screen-mirroring solution. The school investigated a number of options and began a trial to see which would be best for the job.
Five years ago, St Michael’s College implemented Vivi in its new building. The school then began a rollout across both its campuses. Now, every room in the school—including the library—is Vivi-enabled.
With the help of Vivi, St Michael’s College has been able to:
- Free teachers from the front of the class. Now that teachers can connect wirelessly to their display, they are free to support, collaborate, and engage with students from anywhere in the room.
- Create huddle spaces where students can collaborate. The school has given students unrestricted access to Vivi in special areas of the library to encourage independent collaboration.
- Give teachers the confidence to allow students to share their screens. One great benefit of Vivi is that students need permission to present. It means the teacher always remains in total control of what’s on the screen.
The Selection Process
Morrison embraced the task of finding the right solution. He began researching the market and speaking to other schools around the country. “In early 2017,” he says, “I acquired four different technologies to test, and put them into eight classrooms. Every two weeks, I moved the technology between the rooms so the teachers could experience and compare all four.”
The idea was for the staff to complete a survey during the trial to say what they liked and didn’t like about the various products. “One of them was Vivi,” he continues. “From my perspective, it was the preferred product because of the technology behind it. It was also the only one that understood the concept of student and teacher—the centralized authentication meant teachers could present to the class without any problem, but if a student wanted to get on the screen, they needed the teacher’s approval. It’s critical that the teacher remains in control of the room.”
As part of the testing, he received some excellent feedback from one of the teachers about what she liked and didn’t like about each program. “She gave me some extremely detailed information about how she wanted to use the product in class and the features she liked. She also told me what the products did and didn’t do. Back in those early days, Vivi could only clone your primary display—it couldn’t offer dual screen—and, for her, that was a limitation. She wanted to be able to work on something else while also presenting from her screen.”
As a result, the teacher recommended an alternative to Vivi because she saw the lack of dual-screen functionality as a big issue. “She made it clear to me that without that problem, Vivi would be her recommendation,” says Morrison. “So, I called Vivi and told them what she’d said. They explained this feature was already under development and would be released in approximately 8 weeks. I passed this information back to the teacher and asked her if it would change her recommendation. She said yes immediately.”
The school has even begun to incorporate Vivi into its emergency management process. “That’s probably the most recent thing we’ve done with Vivi,” says Morrison. “At the moment, it’s set up so that when we trigger an alert in our current system (a combination of Integrity and some physical evacuation alarms), it pops evacuation signage onto any Vivi that’s up and running. We’re now looking at automating it so that even if the classroom system is switched off, we can display emergency signage on any screen when a lockdown or an evacuation is triggered.”
The school decided to implement Vivi in the new building—the Lasallian Education Centre—for the 2018 school year. By the time Vivi was deployed, the new functionality was there, just as Vivi had promised. “It showed me that Vivi could live up to expectations and was prepared to listen to customer feedback,” says Morrison. “And they’ve since proven that time and again. They send surveys out to us regularly and ask us what we’d like to see included in their product roadmap.”
“The building opened with Vivi in every classroom,” he continues. “It was the first location on the campus to have Vivi, and it was a great success. Our teachers loved the idea that they no longer needed to physically stand at the front of the room to display content from their screens.”
The following year, wherever it was possible, the school used Vivi to replace the desktop computers and docking stations that were running the AV in its other classrooms. “There were some rooms that we just couldn’t update,” says Morrison. “Some of the projectors ran on older technology and couldn’t handle a wireless signal. So, as part of our program of updating technology, we replaced them.”
And that program continued until this year when the school hit a major milestone: the last of the equipment that was incompatible with Vivi was replaced. Presently, the school has approximately 140 Vivis situated in every learning space across both campuses, from reception (kinder) classrooms all the way through to year-12 rooms, large assembly areas, and the school’s 2,000-seat Founders Hall.
Even the library is using Vivi, with huddle spaces built out during a recent library renovation. Each huddle space hosts Vivi along with a 50-inch screen on the wall and a table in front of it where students can collaborate. There are now 8 of these huddle spaces in the school’s library. In these areas, access to Vivi is unrestricted so that students automatically have permission to use it. This means they can just go straight in and start working together.
Making Vivi the Norm
Not only does Vivi have great functionality, but it’s also easy to use. “It’s one thing to put technology in,” says Morrison, “but you also have to show teachers how to use it. In the case of Vivi, once we’d shown a few teachers, the word spread organically. Teachers were showing each other how to use it.”
Vivi’s functionality has made it integral to the way teachers deliver their classes at St Michael’s College. “Vivi is a very functional platform,” says Morrison. “I’d love to see us do more PD internally to help our staff unlock it, but there’s only so much that people can do. The base functionality is very quick and easy to use—to the point where we rarely show people how to do things in Vivi. Instead, they work it out themselves or ask another teacher.”
In fact, right from the moment St Michael’s College began that initial trial, Vivi has proved how easy it is to use. “When I did my trial,” says Morrison, “we produced one-page sheets on how to use each of the different pieces of equipment we were testing. Most ended up double-sided, but not Vivi—we were able to show people how to use it on a single A4 page.”
The school currently uses a separate system for digital signage and will reassess this in a few years. However, Morrison does see a role for Vivi in Emergency Management. Now that the rollout of Vivi across the school is complete, there’s an opportunity to explore this further. “The feature of Vivi that we are exploring right now is the API integration,” he says. “It will allow us to trigger messages on our screens during a lockdown or evacuation. We did some early development testing on that a couple of years ago, and it was quite successful.”