EdTech as a Tool for Collaboration and Engagement

A bit of background

The Holy Family Schools are situated at Aughnaharna, Portlaoise Ireland and are the result of the amalgamation of Sacred Heart School, Scoil Mhuire and St Pauls. Following this partnership, the Junior school relocated to a new, state of the art facility in August 2017.

With over 700 students attending the junior school it was a main priority for the school to ensure its in-class capabilities reflected the modern educational environment. The school, which teaches children valuable life lessons of respect and diversity through a catholic ethos, sought to provide its students with the best possible solutions for lesson delivery to invest in engagement and collaboration within the classroom.

Key Considerations

When considering the best front of class technology to implement into the school, Holy Family Junior School took the request to tender with the help of the Joint Managerial Body of Ireland (JMB). Actively involved in school management, policies and decision-making in Irish education, the tender was an opportunity for the school to review the provisions available on the market and work with a partner who could deliver on the scale that was required.

Understanding the vast number of players in the edtech sphere, Principal, Enda Hickey, sought independent advice on the best provisions for front of class technology from an array of different sources. Also working at the University College Dublin as an Adjunct Associate Professor to the School of Education, Enda pursued to find the best software for the primary school environment by requesting insight from colleagues and other educators to find a solution that would help both teachers and learners to get the most out of the technology.

One of the three schools had already used Promethean technology, therefore a third of staff were familiar with the interface and the potential of the ActivPanel. Having previous experience with Promethean technology and with Promethean as a company, its dedication to provide in-depth training and the potential to deliver to scale led to the ActivPanel emerging as the preferred front-of-class display.

Why the ActivPanel?

Following the independent assessment conducted by the Principal of Holy Family Junior School, as well as support on the tender from the JMB, 50 Promethean ActivPanels were implemented into every classroom in the new school. As this was the first major tender deal in Ireland for interactive flat panel displays, it was essential that the software and hardware were suitable for the environment and that the chosen edtech partner could effectively manage the scale of implementation. Although there was a lot of competition for the tender, Promethean emerged as the favoured provider due to its proven ability to supply panels on a large scale and offer additional support that would benefit the school in the long run.

“As part of our school system in Ireland, there are a variety of licensing requirements that need to be adhered to, in order to implement technology into the educational sphere. Promethean’s software and hardware were chosen due to the compliance with our essential licensing needs as well as the seamless integration of the Panels into the classrooms. Also, with the high-tech specification of the technology, it was important to us that should any issues arise with software, it could be resolved quickly. Promethean’s help-desk and customer service record stood out to us as we could always receive help should it be needed.”

With an ambition to use the new technology as a tool to encourage a collaborative environment which helps students to familarise themselves with modern technology, whilst creating an engaging environment for learning, it was essential that the teachers felt comfortable using the technology.

Enda continued: “While a third of our staff had already used Promethean before, we wanted to ensure that all members of staff were comfortable using the new technology. Promethean was able to offer us initial orientation training sessions to teach us the core features of the panel, and once we had mastered those, we were able to build on our skills gradually with further training.”

As well as creating a collaborative learning environment for students, the technology has helped teachers to familiarise themselves with technology and find new and exciting ways of teaching. In regular staff meetings, teachers at Holy Family Junior School are encouraged to give short demos to their fellow colleagues to help share best practice and build confidence to ensure all teachers are utilising the technology to the best of their ability. The ActivPanel is used to prepare and deliver lessons, with teachers sharing resources and using similar ideas to engage students. The pre-installed Instant Whiteboarding app is used to support learning in the moment, and lesson delivery software, ActivInspire, that comes as standard with the ActivPanel, can help to create and deliver dynamic lessons by using engaging and interactive tools.

While still at the beginning of their journey, Holy Family Junior School are incredibly pleased with their investment in technology. Enda concluded: “We were searching for a tool that would help to deliver exciting lessons, encourage student collaboration and promote technological engagement. The ActivPanel has been embraced by all members of the school and we are looking forward to finding new and exciting ways to support teaching and learning as we progress further on our edtech journey.”

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