How The Geelong College ICT department provides technology guidance with the rest of the college

5 July 2021 | By Vivi

Mark Nurnaitis, Director of ICT at The Geelong College, finds himself in a desirable position where his team gets to interact with every other department, and his biggest challenge is the fast-paced nature of the technology industry.

“In IT, we’re in a unique position in that we see and interact with every part of the college. We get to provide guidance to the college on the implementation of any product or solution that provides value to the college, and I find that is really rewarding. I really enjoy leading and mentoring a team with a customer-first focus, which really allows our staff to get on with educating our students and not worrying about the technical problems they might have.

“The biggest challenge we face, at least the main one, is the pace of change in the IT space.

“There are new products going to market every day, new startups coming on board every day, and every product today is next-gen. We get staff coming to us all the time about the latest thing and managing expectations is a big part of it.”

Mark says a key part of introducing any new products to your school is to start with the problem you’re trying to solve, not necessarily what a product can deliver.

“We don’t look at the product itself, we look at what problem we’re trying to solve. What problem have you got, and what product can we implement to solve that problem? So we’ve found taking the product out of the equation from the start is a more efficient way of solving problems.”

One major change came in 2016 when the college introduced Vivi to 12 classrooms in their junior campus. They now have 159 Vivi-enabled displays across 140 rooms.

“It’s pretty straightforward and teachers really don’t get a choice anymore because it’s in every room [laughing]. 

“It’s really easy to use and it works virtually every time. And when I say virtually, there are always technical problems with everything. Having said that, the number of cabling issues we used to have before Vivi is not even comparable. The cabling issues we had were just enormous – wasting money, wasting tech time, wasting cables, damaging devices trying to get the cables in. Vivi solved a lot of those problems for us. 

“Teachers love that they can sit anywhere in the classroom, that they can use direct video features so they can continue using their device while students are engaging with video content. Once they’re in there, staff get a minor amount of training and away they go.

“The only detriment that Vivi has had is the number of features it’s starting to put into its product. Now we need to educate our staff on those new features and make sure they’re making use of them.  

“Cable replacements and breakages are only one part of the picture that Vivi gives you. It gives us a lot more in terms of things like digital signage and the integration with our emergency management system we’ve got. Those things are outside the scope of the return on investment. I daresay we’re over and above what we expected with our ROI for Vivi.

“The fact that they can teach anywhere means that they can be seen as part of the class rather than teaching to it. They can sit at the back and see their engagement. As we know, laptops pose a distraction for most students, and it just enables them to keep the students involved and focused.”