With 435 students, St Margaret’s Primary School is a rapidly growing primary school in the Melbourne suburb of Maribyrnong, about 8.5km northwest of the city center. The school, part of the Melbourne Archdiocese of Catholic Schools, prides itself on delivering a dynamic curriculum that includes discipline-based, physical-based, and interdisciplinary learning. The belief is that the combination of all three will help develop well-rounded, well-prepared, and confident students.
The Challenge: The Mounting Cost of Maintenance
Around four years ago, the school wanted to move away from using data projectors in the classroom. They were reaching their end of life, and the maintenance costs were mounting. “We were starting to find it was a challenge to source the parts we needed for particular devices,” says Gary Romeo, the school’s IT Leader. “The technology was being superseded—some of the new devices we were trying to use didn’t even have VGA cable ports, so we couldn’t connect them to our existing equipment. The upshot was that the projectors were affecting how we taught our students—we weren’t getting the interactivity in the classroom we had hoped for.”
When the teachers were in the classroom, they needed something that would work whenever it was called on. It was time for an upgrade. “We needed a cost-effective solution that could eliminate the need for all this maintenance and prevent devices being out of action for what was sometimes weeks,” says Romeo.
The hunt for a solution began with the assistance of a company called Effective Tech Solutions. They arranged a visit to another school that used Vivi. It is not often a product takes your breath away. But that’s what happened when the team from St Margaret’s Primary School first saw Vivi in action.
“We were just blown away by what Vivi could do,” says Romeo. “The first thing I noticed was that there were no cables or projectors. Straight away, I could see that we would save lots of money in each class. It would free up capital to invest in other areas around the school.”
The implementation went smoothly. As well as Vivi, all the projectors in the classrooms were replaced with brand-new TV screens. An EduTouch Interactive Panel was also added to each room. The plan was for each classroom to have the same equipment—no matter what room someone was teaching in, they’d be able to connect and start screen sharing instantly. Vivi has since formed the foundation of their approach to classroom learning and engagement.
Every class now has access to reliable, advanced technology, and teachers are comfortable using it. Vivi is so reliable that the money the school used to spend on maintenance has now been invested elsewhere.
With the help of Vivi, St Margaret’s has been able to:
- Save an enormous amount of time. Now that teachers can log in quickly and reliably to Vivi, rather than waste time trying to access technology, they can spend more time doing what they do best.
- Reduce spending on maintenance, parts, and cables. The combination of Vivi’s reliability, flexibility, and wireless connections means the school has been able to invest money it would otherwise have spent on maintenance, elsewhere.
- Ensure all classes have access to the same equipment. It brings consistency to the classroom and means that if a teacher must change rooms, they don’t need to change their lesson plan.
All Romeo must do now is manage the system. He ensures the labeling and logins are correct and keeps them in a master document that he can refer to if necessary. Though Vivi has so far proved to be extremely reliable, Romeo sees it as vital that if something does go wrong, he’s able to sort it out quickly and efficiently.
Implementing Vivi has changed the dynamic of the teacher-student relationship in the school. “Not only did it transform the school’s technology,” says Romeo, “but it also transformed our teaching. It gives teachers the mobility to teach from different vantage points without being tethered to an HDMI cable.”
From a staff perspective, the school uses Vivi to enable meetings and host a notice board. “We’ve got our daily schedule that shows what is coming up,” says Romeo. “Actually, we use Vivi for almost everything; we use it for streaming lessons, when necessary, and video content. We use it for the students to engage in activities and games in certain classes. We have even implemented a document camera or visualizer, which we use with a laptop to help spotlight student work.”
“We’re getting to the stage where Vivi is so embedded in our classrooms that teachers are just using it without thinking,” he continues. “That’s exciting. We’re now seeing a consistently good base level of usage, and we’re at a stage where we’re slowly integrating and introducing new features Vivi offers to help our students engage more effectively in lessons.”
An Hour and a Half Saved Every Week
From Romeo’s perspective, Vivi saves an enormous amount of time. “I walked into a meeting about an hour ago and simply logged in and connected straight away,” he says. “It all adds up; once you’re saving five to ten minutes in every meeting, it can give you back an hour and a half each week—time saved just logging in to meetings!” When that translates to the classroom and teachers can just get on with what they do best without wasting time trying to connect, the benefits are significant.
Because Vivi shares whatever is on the device that is presenting, the school can make use of its displays in many ways, from attending Zoom calls when Covid protocols demand separate rooms or using education-specific tools like Google Classroom and other G-Suite programs, as well as 3D printing and design programs, like Maker’s Empire.
“I think it’s been really pleasing to see how programs are used and how the students engage,” says Romeo, “especially when there are interactive games in Maths or English. Teachers can also watch students doing tasks from anywhere in the room while still controlling the classroom display via Vivi. I think it’s allowed them to become not just more independent in terms of devices and vantage points but also in terms of the way they do things—Vivi allows them to do things differently. What I like about it is that you could have 30 devices going, and you can have one of them share a solution to a problem the teacher has posted whenever you want. And it’s all being done through a single piece of technology.”