With students learning away from home and classrooms empty for the majority of the academic year, the education sector had to prioritise educational continuity above all else.
When schools in the UK had to rapidly implement remote learning strategies, at Thrive Co-Operative Learning Trust, the immediate response was to mobilise and leverage existing tools and resources. Thanks to ongoing investments in modern education technology that had long been in the planning, the school was equipped to support distance learning without negatively impacting teacher workload and gave students access to familiar systems.
Having already installed the Promethean ActivPanel across numerous classrooms over the last three years, Dave Kemp, IT Network and Operations Manager at Thrive Co-Operative Learning Trust, explains how his team safely navigated pandemic challenges and national lockdowns as well as keeping the Trust’s ICT upgrade programme on track.
Streamlining technological infrastructure
With nine schools under its wing and mixed technology estate, the ICT department at Thrive Co-Operative Learning Trust aimed to streamline hardware provisions across its schools to make the delivery of lessons, sharing of ideas and management of technology even easier.
“When we set about our upgrade five years ago, Promethean emerged as the favoured manufacturer due to the majority of our schools already using legacy Promethean technology and the remainder incredibly keen to get hands-on with the tech. Confident in its abilities, we instructed the support of Promethean and its reseller partners to conduct demonstrations of the ActivPanel, understand our processes at our Trust and work with us to develop an implementation strategy that would help us to facilitate this standardisation of provisions across our schools,” Dave commented.
Seeking out a well-rounded solution for its front of class displays that would inspire interactivity within the classroom, the Trust worked closely with Promethean and its reseller partner to align the Promethean ActivPanel with individual school requirements. Confident in the potential of the ActivPanel in becoming a focal point of interaction within the classroom to encourage lesson engagement and support wider participation, the ICT department made the decision to adopt a phased implementation process that would see each classroom in the Trust’s network benefit from the technology.
Pioneering ActivPanel processes
Taking into account budgetary considerations and knowing what ambitions lay ahead for the Trust and its schools, a phased plan was devised that saw the classroom at the heart of the entire process.
Identifying the classrooms that would benefit immediately from the new technology, an effectively designed strategy was put in place and the implementation programme began.
“As our process has been ongoing for a number of years, naturally we have ActivPanels that vary in age. However, this isn’t proving to be an issue because Promethean assured us that the ActivPanel would receive the same software enhancements and over-the-air updates, no matter the age, ensuring all teachers benefit from the same quality tech access,” Dave continued.
The phased installation was guided by ensuring the technology was put in the most suitable places. One way this was achieved was to make sure each department had the same ActivPanel, enabling teachers to share their newfound tips and tricks. As the pandemic hit in March 2020, Thrive Co-Operative Learning Trust was already well underway with its upgrade strategy across nine schools. Pushing on with its plans safely and securely, Promethean partner, Gateway Heyworth Networks Ltd supported the Trust to install more than 50 new ActivPanels over the next few months.
Bridging the gap between school and home
With students and teachers adopting new processes to ensure educational continuity, the ActivPanel supported lesson delivery by becoming an integral part of Thrive Co-Operative Learning Trust’s home learning programme.
Using accompanying lesson delivery software, ActivInspire, which is supplied free as standard with the Promethean ActivPanel, teachers were able to use pre-existing resources to support students wherever learning took place.
Using ActivInspire Screen Recorder, teachers were able to record their lessons, talking students through the key learning points as they would in the classrooms. The recording was then exported as a video file and shared with students to watch at a time that suited them. Supporting teachers to save time and reduce additional workload, ActivInspire Screen Recorder enabled teachers to use existing resources and learning platforms to navigate the distance. Furthermore, it also ensured students had access to resources that they were used to seeing in the classroom.
The classroom environment has evolved greatly over the last year, and Thrive Co-Operative Learning Trust is already investigating ways the ActivPanel can be used even further. Taking functionality to the next level, the Trust is currently arranging further training with the Promethean team to explore the potential of the IT management software, Panel Management.
“As a Trust, we are incredibly lucky as our teachers are passionate about technology and have seen first-hand the difference in engagement and interaction when using the front of class device. The ActivPanel will help us not only from an IT perspective, to streamline infrastructure and overall management of display devices, but also from a classroom perspective, as the product has been designed for the learning space and accompanying software, ActivInspire is incredibly effective.
“Promethean and Gateway Heyworth Networks Ltd have been incredibly supportive over the years and have ensured that our process is guided by us and our needs. As a result, they have been incredibly flexible with our phased approach and we’re excited to continue on our tech journey with them,” concluded Dave.
With over 200 ActivPanels now installed at Thrive Co-Operative Learning Trust, Gateway Heyworth Networks Ltd and Promethean remain in close communication with the ICT team to ensure they are able to respond to the Trust’s needs with flexibility and agility. With the intention of getting the ActivPanel Elements Series installed in all classrooms across the Trust, the Trust’s ICT department is confident in its chosen front of class technology solution. Designed for the classroom environment and with first-hand experience of Promethean’s support, the Trust is assured that the Promethean ActivPanel has effectively aligned itself with the Trust’s technological ambitions.