How technology may enable a return to some kind of normal

25 September 2020 | By viviedu
Webb School of Knoxville Knoxville, Tennessee Webb School is a PreK-12 private school in Knoxville, Tennessee.

At Webb School of Knoxville, 2020 began with an experiment of Vivi’s new live broadcast feature. It formed part of the overall plan to communicate messages to students in different ways. Little did the school’s leadership know then just how important Vivi’s new features would be once all students return to campus, in a world forever changed by a global pandemic.

Students returning to the beautiful campus of the Webb School of Knoxville

Live Broadcast

With social distancing expected to be the norm for the foreseeable future, the live-broadcast feature enables students to participate in assemblies from their own classroom.

Digital Signage

Messaging has never been so important. The ability to display messages on screen about guidelines for social distancing, or the responsibility everyone in the community has to keep others safe, is likely to come into its own as students return to campus.

Like every school, the Webb School of Knoxville—a private, pre-K-12 co-ed day school in Tennessee, with an enrollment of just over 1000 students—had detailed plans in place to help their students grow over yet another academic year. It was supposed to be a year of excitement; the year in which the new Innovation Center—a state-of-the-art facility that would include a science lab, innovation studio, robotics studio, maker-space, research library and a professional broadcasting studio—was to open. Instead, a pandemic raged through the world.

COVID Driven Communication

With many students off campus at times during the year, the school had to find ways to communicate effectively with them. Over the previous year, Vivi had been embedded as a mainstay of the classroom, a tool that enabled teachers to deliver the extraordinary learning that the school prides itself on.

Once the students return, Vivi will be at the fore once more. With guidelines in place that recommend students remain at least 6-feet away from each other in the classroom, the kind of flexibility and access that the Vivi system provides, will give the school far more options than it would have with a wired system.

And those new features of Vivi that the school began to trial at the start of the year are likely to come into their own once the campus is buzzing once more. Jim Manikas, the school’s director of IT, was encouraged by the initial small-scale trials of live broadcasting.

Whole-school or year-level gatherings are unlikely to happen in the coming months. In the case of the Webb School, the Middle and Upper Schools can have assemblies live-streamed to the classroom, and the investments the school has made in big-screen, interactive displays and the Vivi system unlocks the benefit that will allow them to broadcast messages and information effectively to each division.

The new semester will be accompanied by new rules, built on the guiding principles of health and safety; student development; connectedness; and community. They will come with shared goals and responsibilities across the entire school community and the need to communicate messages and reminders more frequently than ever before. Messages like keeping a distance and not congregating in hallways.

Emergency Communication

Prior to the events of this year, the school had already incorporated Vivi into its emergency plans. Various scenarios were created and, in the event that any occurs, Vivi will display messages on the screens to advise what students and teachers should do, including the need to evacuate, if necessary. It is a vital function that the school hopes it will never have to use.

Back-to-School Nights

Earlier in the year, the school successfully used Vivi’s digital signage to facilitate back-to-school nights. They are occasions for new or existing families to come to the school, familiarize themselves with a new environment and meet new teachers. Vivi’s digital signage feature is perfect for such occasions, as the school uses it to communicate specific messages about the classroom or division. It’s all part of making families feel welcome at the school.

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