Elstree School has it all. It’s an award-winning and independent boarding and day prep school, for boys and girls from Nursery to Year 8, with a reputation for academic and sporting excellence and access to 150 acres of spectacular Berkshire countryside. It truly is picture-perfect, and it’s no surprise Graham Wootten, the school’s new Head of Digital Learning, was blown away when he first arrived at the school in 2020.
But there was to be no honeymoon period for Wootten. Almost immediately, the country went into COVID lockdown. All of his focus went to designing a remote learning program through Microsoft Teams for the entire school.
Once everything returned to relative normality and the pupils were welcomed back to the school’s immaculate grounds, the push to embrace the mobile side of learning continued. It provided every pupil in Years 6 to 8 with a Surface device.
For Wootten, there was also another pressing problem to solve. The pupils in his ICT classes needed hands-on support as they worked their way through each task, but the room’s projector screen and whiteboard trapped him at the front of the class. Having used Vivi at a previous school, he knew the little blue boxes would give him the power and flexibility to present from anywhere in the room. The school approved his request and, in no time at all, a Vivi unit sat on top of his projector. Instantly, he was able to walk around the IT room during classes and give help to anyone who needed it.
Once the school started looking for a wireless screen sharing and digital signage solution for all classrooms, Wootten saw the opportunity to bring Vivi to everyone. On his recommendation, the school agreed to add a Vivi unit to every projector with an HDMI port. If they didn’t have one, the projectors were replaced. In total, 25 classrooms were Vivi-enabled, and the school also wired the classroom speakers into the back of each projector. By the time the implementation was finished, all classrooms had access to the same tools.
As well as finding a wireless screen-sharing solution, the school wanted to replace the stick PCs it was using to drive digital signage. In public areas, the school’s displays were already scrolling through content, but the Xibo PC sticks that drove the content kept running out of storage and displayed an error message rather than the engaging media the school wanted to showcase.
Vivi proved to be a reliable and easy-to-use screen-sharing and student engagement solution. It was the perfect tool to drive digital signage. The school can now showcase its pupils’ talents on all the public screens, including those lining its stately corridors.
With the help of Vivi, Elstree School has been able to:
1. Free teachers to spend more hands-on time with pupils. In a school that is academically ambitious and prides itself on delivering a first-class education, Vivi has freed teachers from the front of the class and enabled them to collaborate, engage and support students from anywhere in the room.
2. Showcase pupils’ efforts and talents. Whether they are looping videos showing the creative process or demonstrating how cricketers can improve their technique, the school’s screens are working hard to help students as they strive to reach levels they thought they might never attain.
3. Give teachers the confidence and tools to take their class anywhere there is a screen. With Vivi as the backbone, every class now has the same tools. This uniformity and the ease with which teachers can access Vivi has brought a real sense of mobility to teaching.
Says Wootten, “My vision is for teachers and groups of children to be able to teach and learn anywhere there’s a screen. With Vivi, if you can see a presentation screen and know how the use the app, that’s all you need!”
Making every display accessible without risk
One of the benefits of adopting Vivi schoolwide was that it also brought a very effective way of managing digital signage. Having a common platform for screen-sharing and digital signage not only meant it was easy to use but also meant the school saved time and money on support. All the school had to do was plug a Vivi unit into each display.
The Vivi units came with the ability to provide varying degrees of access, which meant both teachers and students could use the system when required, without the risk of students hijacking the displays in other rooms.
Showcasing student talent
As you might expect from a school that’s about to celebrate its 175th anniversary, Elstree has a strong marketing team. Consequently, there is a real focus on displaying pupils’ talent and effort, and the screens dedicated to signage scroll through photos of school activities, trips, and performances. For convenience, the sports fixture lists are shown at certain times so pupils can visit the nearest screen rather than having to make their way to the sports hall to find out who is playing, and against whom.
The school has a new science block, which includes a science atrium—it is a perfect space for presentations and somewhere to home the models and prototypes created by the students each year as part of the annual Headmaster’s Project. “Go out and create,” says the Headmaster every year. And they do. Sometimes, the models and prototypes the pupils create are simply too large to fit inside the school’s science atrium.
Recently, for his entry, one pupil constructed an amazing wooden swing seat that was far too large to be displayed indoors. To give it the exposure it deserved, Wootten set a video of the pupil making it play automatically on the screens in the atrium. It was the perfect way to make such an incredible project part of the exhibition, even though it was outside.
Such is the power of Vivi that, in the near future, the school will be putting a new Vivi-enabled screen into the sports hall. Its use will go way beyond merely showing photographs or details of team selection. The aim is to use the functionality to show pupils recordings of their performance—perhaps their bowling or batting technique—to give them real-time and actionable feedback that will help them to develop as players.