Community High School District 117, (D117), serves four communities in the state of Illinois, about halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The district consists of two high schools enrolling 2,752 students served by over 200 teachers and administrators. Among the administrative team is a six-person technology team, which supports the needs of D117 teachers, staff and students.
The district provides 1:1 Chromebooks for every student, while teachers use a mix of MacBooks, Windows laptops, Chromebooks and iPads. Every classroom has a desktop device (Chrome box or Windows PC); projection and display equipment varies with a mix of projectors, interactive short throw projectors, TVs, and recently added BenQ interactive panels.
According to Kyle Bush, Education Technology Specialist for D117, the broad mix of devices and brands across users presented obstacles to the successful use of the Apple TVs the tech team had implemented for classroom screen mirroring. First of all, not all devices could access the Apple TVs. And for those that could connect, cabling was a challenge. The HDMI switches and splitters installed to connect with multiple TVs and projectors were easy to break and difficult to fix. Additionally, teachers with a range of tech skills using a variety of devices had trouble understanding which buttons to push to project their displays to the classroom screens.
Beyond the classroom, D117 used Rise Vision for digital signage throughout their physical spaces. This solution limited the sophistication of their communications, as all TVs had to display the same message all the time, regardless of location. In addition, Bush found the solution to be unreliable.
Growing frustration both with AppleTV’s inability to work well in a school setting with a variety of devices in use and with Rise Vision’s limitations led Bush and his team to search for alternative solutions for screen mirroring and digital signage. Vivi checked all his boxes. Says Bush, “I’ve been doing this edtech thing for a long time, and when we saw VIvi, we were pretty impressed. If you have a large mix of devices and you need to get everything talking to one system, there’s no other product out there that does what Vivi does. If you are using something like AppleTV, [which is] essentially a home theater device that’s been shoehorned into enterprise level stuff – which is not what it was designed for – Vivi would be the way to go.”
Over the course of a summer, Bush and his team installed Vivi in every classroom, at every signage display, and in conference rooms. They also equipped several mobile digital carts with Vivi so they can wheel them around the building for use as needed. Bush reports that “Vivi is installed everywhere we have a display in our building; we are using Vivi for digital signage, for teachers and students to get content up on screen, and even on the Jumbotron in the field house, which is pretty cool. Our goal is to get the full functionality out of the entire Vivi platform for everything that we need.”
Vivi makes it easier for the teachers to cast their screens in the classroom with whatever device and operating system they use, whether Apple, Windows, or Chrome. As a result, teachers are communicating their lessons with fewer interruptions, less downtime and less frustration. This translates to more time spent on instruction overall.
For digital signage and announcements
Vivi allows D117 to diversify their digital signage content and on-campus announcements with flexible, varied and targeted messaging depending on the display location. Simply showing different information on different screens offers a welcome upgrade from their previous signage solution, and improves connection and communication throughout both high school campuses. Vivi’s ease of use has streamlined training needs and encouraged staff to take more ownership of their areas of focus and get creative in their displays.
- Staff in charge of media post announcements, videos and timely information throughout the school. They’ve even incorporated a timer during passing periods, which both staff and students find helpful to get to class on time.
- Two integrated district-wide calendars display upcoming events for the day. The screen by the auditorium displays Fine Arts events, reminding students of what’s coming up or letting them know whether the space is available.
- Staff that manage the concession stand during athletic events replace the general, daytime building announcements with their menus, displaying them on the screens located above the concession stand during events.
Eventually, Bush plans to set up a TV with a Vivi for every department. “Our buildings are zoned so each hallway is its own department. It would be awesome to have every department manage their own digital bulletin board so they can display whatever is relevant to their department.”
For technology teams: Less maintenance and troubleshooting
Troubleshooting with the AppleTV solution required a technology team member to be physically present in the classroom to identify and then fix the problem, all while the teachers and students were stuck waiting. Vivi Central – the admin panel – enables remote troubleshooting, keeping devices online, and avoiding annoying classroom interruptions and instructional delays whiles teachers and students wait for support. Intuitive Vivi features, whether for display signage or classroom interaction, make training teachers and staff easy and straightforward. Vivi allows everyone to focus on using the tools for teaching and communicating.