Wauconda Community Unit School District #118, (D118), is located roughly 40 miles northeast of Chicago. It comprises 6 schools with 4,367 students and approximately 400 classroom teachers. All teachers and students in the district are provided with an individual Chromebook.
For projection of videos and screen sharing in the classroom, D118 employed Chromecasting from teacher-provided Chromebooks, along with an Epson BrightLink Short Throw projector in each classroom. Unfortunately, this consumer-designed technology fell short when deployed for an enterprise-wide system; the Chromecasting technology proved to be unreliable and offered few security features essential for a classroom setting. Without the necessary security settings in place, teachers and students were not able to access desired features, which limited engagement and interactivity in the classroom. The five-member technology team, led by Assistant Superintendent of Technology Services Scott Cittadino, sought a stronger, enterprise-wide solution for the district.
When surveying his options to upgrade the security situation and improve the “casting” screen mirroring technology, Cittadino quickly decided on switching to Vivi. “We moved very quickly with our decision. I could tell from using Vivi for just a short amount of time that it was easy to deploy, it was easy to manage, and it essentially did what it was advertised to do.” Wauconda purchased 400 Vivi boxes, estimating they would need about 340 units right away, and could add more as needed from their supply.
Ease of implementation and maintenance
Two members of D118’s IT team spent about one month setting up the Vivi boxes by connecting to one of the two network jacks that already existed in most of the classroom ceilings. Before Vivi, Cittadino intended to connect the Epson projectors directly to the network jack, but ultimately decided that the Epson interactive software was not robust enough. Now, Vivi is used in conjunction with the existing Epson projectors, rather than relying on the projector’s interactive software. Cittadino’s team installed the Vivi app via Google admin onto every teacher’s Chromebook, which now updates automatically to reduce maintenance. Teachers also have the option to access the Vivi web app for screen mirroring and engaging with students.
D118 also implemented the digital signage and announcements features at the high school, with the goal of eliminating lengthy audio announcements that were easily tuned out and replacing them with engaging morning videos displayed on 20 screens throughout the school.
Having spent 15 years in the educational technology realm, Cittadino appreciated how straightforward Vivi has proven to be. “If you have a product that’s easy to install, it’s easy to maintain. And it’s easy to use. I think Vivi checks the box on all three of those. This is a product that’s going to do what it says that it does.”
Flexibility to integrate with your existing environment
Cittadino stresses the ease of implementation using their Ethernet infrastructure rather than relying on WiFi, which they have in some places but can be less reliable. The district’s IT team was able to take advantage of existing capital investments, including network jacks, POE injectors where they did not have Ethernet connections, Epson projectors, and any HDMI-enabled TVs throughout the school system. Over time, they are gradually upgrading their older Epson projectors with newer versions, which plug and play seamlessly into their Vivi environment, as well as integrating more TVs into the Vivi ecosystem. Several classrooms now have multiple projection areas, which allows for increased screen sharing and student engagement in a 21st Century world.
Deliberate rollout to build trust
D118 opted to start small with screen mirroring features and, based on ease of use and effectiveness, allow a few champions to forge ahead and adopt more interactive features that were previously unavailable with the Chromecast solution. This grassroots approach eliminated objections to learning a new technology and eased teachers into trusting the system to work.
Almost immediately after setting up the Vivi boxes across the district, teacher use of screen mirroring increased dramatically, as indicated to the IT team through the Vivi dashboard. Focusing on one feature at rollout proved an effective strategy, according to Cittadino, “one of my main jobs is to eliminate excuses. And I find that if I can eliminate excuses, teachers don’t have any other reason to avoid going forward and trying something new. That is definitely something that Vivi does – it eliminates those excuses…it’s very easy to use, it’s very easy to install. And it’s very cost effective.”
He continued, “I will often get a lot of pushback when we try to implement new technology. With Vivi it was, ‘hey, here’s the app, here’s how you connect, go to it.’ And really, that was kind of how simple it was, which obviously makes my job a little bit easier and makes [the teachers’ jobs] a little bit easier. You can get rid of some of the complications. That’s really all teachers want. They just want it to be simple. And just do what it says it’s going to do. And if you can do those two things, which I’ve found Vivi does a very good job with, then the rest of it becomes easy after that.”
Now that D118’s teachers are more comfortable with screen mirroring and gaining trust in the system, more of them are enabling student engagement features like timers and whiteboard, simply by taking advantage of existing tools from their installed app rather than learning a separate, additional piece of software. The IT team shares helpful “how to” and “did you know” tutorials with the teachers to encourage adoption of more use of the interactive Vivi features at a gradual pace.
The use of Vivi’s signage and announcements feature at Wauconda High School has evolved from static signage displayed on 20 devices throughout the building, to morning announcements delivered via video. Cittadino believes that replacing the overwhelming, lengthy “squawking” announcements with morning videos has built a sense of calm as the students start their day.