During the height of the pandemic in 2020, one of Ron Cone’s craziest memories was the day his team set up a tent on a brutally hot Washington day and handed out 18,000 Chromebooks to students.
“I remember the sun was starting to set and coming right through on our faces. That was really something else.”
Ron is the Executive Director of Information Technology for Kennewick School District, which is the largest employer in the city of Kennewick, Washington, home to almost 20,000 students and over 1,000 teachers – and just happens to be Vivi’s largest customer globally.
Kennewick schools have a technology stack that Ron describes as “everything”. Teachers use Microsoft products, students use Chromebooks, Zoom is used for virtual lessons (which are a separate stream of learning, not to be confused with a hybrid classroom). The one consistent element? Vivi in almost every classroom.
“Look, Vivi was just very quick and easy to adopt. We set it up in our first building and were starting to plan how we were going to start training our teachers when we discovered they were already using it. It’s so easy to use, they just took off and ran with it.
“When we first started using Vivi, our teachers loved the mobility around the classroom and would walk up to students at their desks and use the whiteboard feature on the teacher’s device to get students more involved. Now we’re pretty much at 1:1 devices so students can just share their work from their desks.
“Prior to Vivi we had another wireless connection system, but it couldn’t handle more than 30 devices, which is obviously a problem for a large district like ours. Then we started using Vivi and all of a sudden it’s working and teachers aren’t yelling at us anymore. We have really high usage of the system.”
Through 2020, Ron jokes that they started school three times in one year, and when a new school year starts, “it’s typically 60 days where we’re really busy. All of a sudden we’re figuring out how to hold the school dance outside with masks.”
Ron and his team built a new internal help desk that provided phone access remotely, a text messaging service between teachers and parents that didn’t reveal teachers’ personal cell phone numbers, and a new curriculum planner.
As well as the functionality Vivi brought to the classroom, the teachers quickly learned to rely on it. “That’s one of the great things about Vivi,” says Burgess. “Before Vivi, we were forever replacing lost or broken HDMI cables. When people went to project, they couldn’t. Now, there’s no reason why our teachers can’t project—every room has Vivi and everyone knows how it works.”
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