For Kirklees College in West Yorkshire, their pioneering journey into edtech began over 20 years ago, through the introduction of early interactive whiteboards from global education company, Promethean.
Over two decades later, the partnership is still flourishing, so much so that the college is currently on the path to completing an upgrade of their entire technological estate, replacing the legacy boards with over 100 cutting-edge ActivPanels.
Having played a pivotal role in the initial implementation of Promethean solutions, Neil Spaxman, Head of IT and Digital Vision, is leading the college through the next phase of their pioneering strategy. Working in close partnership with Promethean, the programme is inspired by the college’s ambition to enhance the teaching and learning experience even further.
Consistency is key
For many years, the staff at Kirklees College have been using Promethean’s ActivInspire software, not only to support learning objectives in the classroom but also to help in the digital delivery of the curriculum. Therefore, when the college was considering upgrading to interactive flat panel displays, continued access to ActivInspire became a driving factor in progressing with the Promethean partnership.
As ActivInspire is supplied as standard with the ActivPanel, the tutors are seamlessly transitioning from using the original Promethean boards to engaging with the new interactive flat panel displays. Benefitting from technological continuity, tutors can use the interactive software they are familiar with and continue to deliver lessons using resources they have developed over time.
Neil Spaxman shared his thoughts on how the ActivInspire software has become essential to creating a positive learning environment at Kirklees College: “ActivInspire is incredibly interactive and an excellent tool to promote collaboration within the classroom. Teamwork and interactivity definitely play into the practical nature of the courses available across the syllabus, which are driven by a kinaesthetic and practical approach to learning.”
While ActivInspire has been the constant for Kirklees as it made the move from projector-based interactive whiteboards, the more advanced ActivPanel comes with a suite of enhanced functionality and connectivity. Recognising this, and wanting to gain maximum value from its deployment, Neil ensured that the rollout was underpinned by a comprehensive training programme.
Building best practice skills
Setting the wheels in motion, Kirklees College developed a two-part training and development strategy to upskill the tutors and support staff.
The first stage centred around orientation sessions from Promethean, which provided the fundamentals to get started with the ActivPanel. Focusing on the essential apps which are preloaded with the ActivPanel, the orientations enabled tutors to explore how to use the Instant Whiteboard, Spinner, Timer, and Annotate. They also navigated how to move between the Android environment and accessing desktop applications, including ActivInspire.
The second stage of the strategy focused on a best practice approach to embedding the ActivPanel into teaching. Kirklees College’s digital learning specialists provide ongoing training through on-demand question and answer sessions, advanced follow-on classes, and interactive group workshops. Ultimately, these are shaped by the individual needs and learning preferences of the tutors at the college, which has proven to be very successful.
The digital leads also provide regular training on enhancing ActivInspire skills. Introducing invigorating ways to use the software in different learning environments, the digital leads demonstrate how ActivInspire can help educators meet subject-specific teaching goals.
“Our IT strategy has been developed with our tutors in mind, providing them with the skills to make the most of the advanced technology and to be more confident with the content they deliver. At Kirklees College, we have an open-door policy and will always go above and beyond to support our tutors in developing their technological skill sets,” adds Neil.
Empowering IT teams
While the tutors have been hugely positive about the ActivPanel’s enhanced features, the IT team is equally excited about the increased connectivity of the ActivPanel, made possible by Promethean Panel Management.
Access to Promethean Panel Management, which is supplied as standard with the ActivPanel, means the IT technicians do not have to be physically present to carry out system updates. Instead, these can be performed remotely, saving time and resource which can subsequently be diverted to other support needs.
Engaging with Panel Management has proven particularly beneficial as the college now has improved visibility of the entire estate and even greater control: “It’s safe to say that Panel Management has really changed the game for Kirklees College and was part of our decision to upgrade. Our staff have saved considerable amounts of time and it provides peace of mind that our edtech investment is not only up to date, but as secure as possible.
“I would definitely say that the Panel Management capability on our new ActivPanels is essential for IT professionals in any educational setting. We now have more capacity to explore and advance additional projects that will enable us to develop our IT strategy even further,” Neil added.
Looking to the future
Now that Kirklees College has successfully upgraded their entire technological estate, they are entering into the next phase of a progressive journey.
Having been there every step of the way over the past 20 years, Neil continues to look to the future when it comes to Kirklees College’s relationship with Promethean.
“Promethean really is a trusted advisor. From the early days of interactive whiteboards to the advanced ActivPanels we’ve deployed most recently, it’s clear they truly understand our education needs.
“For us, it’s always been about more than the technology, although having access to solutions that we know stand the test of time in a teaching environment is understandably reassuring. Our longstanding partnership with Promethean comes from their commitment to innovation, underpinned by access to training that enables us to realise maximum educational value from our investments.
“Moving forward, we know we can rely on Promethean’s guidance and support to ensure we meet our goal of enhancing the classroom experience at Kirklees College.”
To explore the many features and applications of the Promethean ActivPanel, please book a live demonstration hosted by a Promethean Education Expert.