Our Lady of the Southern Cross College
The teachers love the platform as there are no connectivity issues. I don’t think many lessons have occurred this year without interactively using an IWB in the room.
Regional school enhances learning with Ricoh interactive whiteboards
Our Lady of the Southern Cross College in Dalby is a major centre of teaching and learning on Queensland’s Darling Downs. The College’s 92 staff members support more than 550 students from Prep to Year 12.
As a Visible Learning Lighthouse School, the College recently embarked on delivering digital enhancement of the curriculum. This strategy incorporates a range of components including new student laptops, a reliable wireless network, cloud-based storage and communication capabilities, as well as outstanding classroom technology that enables collaboration between all aspects. This is where Ricoh and Downs Office Equipment and Supplies came to the fore.
In previous years, the College had acquired a variety of different interactive products from a range of different vendors. This resulted in a significant challenge for both teaching and administration staff.
College Principal, Peter Cuskelly, says adoption of various classroom technologies led to a situation where some lacked interactivity and others were poorly installed. Financial provision had not been made for replacement and the devices were unreliable and expensive to maintain, swap or relocate as needed.
“The smartboard idea broke down as many were becoming unusable, but we still wanted to bridge the technology gap to enhance student learning and support our teachers in becoming more effective and efficient,” Mr. Cuskelly explains.
Unfortunately, faith in the new technology began to decline with many teachers questioning whether interactive whiteboards were worth the cost. “We realised we needed to re-evaluate our strategy and determine whether we had the very best technology mix for our staff and students,” he says.
The College had an existing long-term relationship with Toowoomba-based IT company, Downs Office Equipment and Supplies, so requested that the company evaluate the College’s IT infrastructure and recommend how it could be improved.
A thorough review identified challenges with ageing projectors and static whiteboards. The fleet was disparate in branding and quality, requiring expensive consumables and maintenance.
Working in partnership with Ricoh, Downs Office Equipment and Supplies identified a new technology platform that could better support teaching staff and digitally enhance the curriculum.
The new Ricoh Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) solution was presented to teaching staff, who conducted a number of “mock” lessons to ensure the devices could deliver the support they required.
The IWBs have high-resolution 4K displays, fast response times, the ability to link rooms, display, save, snapshot and annotate from the desktop.
“We evaluated other smartboards and undertook thorough research,” says Mr Cuskelly. “We were looking to invest up to $1 million on IWBs, laptops, the network and software so we weren’t taking anything lightly and wanted the best technology for an eight to ten-year period.”
Once the evaluation had been completed, a decision was made to deploy new IWBs across the College. In conjunction with Ricoh, Downs Office Equipment and Supplies worked over the holiday period to ensure more than 40 IWBs were ready for returning students at the end of January. Ricoh provided technical support as required to ensure the project met its deadline.
Mr Cuskelly says the user-friendly nature of the Ricoh IWBs means lessons can now be all about teaching and learning rather than configuring devices. “The teachers love the platform as there are no connectivity issues. I don’t think many lessons have occurred this year without interactively using an IWB in the room,” he says.
“With other large-scale rollouts there are often ongoing setbacks, though this simply wasn’t the case for us. Our work with Downs Office Equipment and Supplies and Ricoh has meant an outstanding result for the students, teachers and the College in general.”
With the new infrastructure in place across the College, the benefits quickly became apparent. Improved functionality, reliability, consistency and ease of use means staff utilise the technology for the vast majority of lessons.
“Teachers can relocate to another classroom and deliver the same lesson experience,” says Mr Cuskelly. “They transition empty handed, the login profile roams to the destination classroom and teaching can commence immediately.”
Staff also no longer need to carry anything around the College and the students need very little besides their laptop. During the coming years, all textbooks will be available digitally, so carrying paper-based resources to class will be unnecessary.
The IWBs make life so easy – it’s just like a tablet on the wall with 100 times the capability
Other benefits include the ability to produce lesson plan templates for classes that can be reused each year.
The sequence of a lesson can be recorded on an IWB and teachers can replay it for one group as they conduct a lesson to another group.
In addition, students who miss lessons can now keep up to date with everyone else and don’t fall behind as they simply catch up the lesson online. This has resulted in a very positive behavioural benefit among students.
“Because there is no dead time, we only had five behavioural incidents compared to 50 for the same time last year,” Mr Cuskelly mentioned. “Teachers are better planned and prepared, and there is greater clarity for the students resulting in a whole cultural change at the College. Even better, everything that is done on the IWB in class is immediately available to the students on the Learning Management System (LMS), so revision, worked examples and everything the teacher uses in class is available 24/7 to the students.”
Mr Cuskelly says, “The IWBs make life so easy – it’s just like a tablet on the wall with 100 times the capability."
Digital enhancement of the curriculum is a reality at OLSCC. All lessons can be saved, retained and displayed as required, helping the College transition to a truly paperless operation.
“The technology allows us to go from ‘chalk and talk’ teaching methods to flipped learning capability where students can read through lessons, focus on the most pertinent aspects and spend time improving their capabilities. In turn, their results will continue to improve,” says Mr Cuskelly.
He concludes that the College’s transformation program is part of a broader vision and he looks forward to working closely with Downs Office Equipment and Supplies and Ricoh to make that vision a reality in the future.