Refreshing pedagogy with the ActivPanel 

Published: June 16th, 2023

Founded in 1924, Regent House is a large co-educational grammar school situated in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. For almost two decades, the school has partnered with Promethean, using interactive solutions to support teaching and learning.

After many years of using Promethean interactive whiteboards with great success, the time came to look at the latest education technologies available, which led them to the ActivPanel. The school piloted the ActivPanel with maths and immediately recognised its pedagogical benefits. The positive results of the pilot led to an accelerated rollout of the technology school wide.

With almost 100 panels now installed, the IT team has successfully integrated them within the school network and found Promethean Panel Management to be a valuable and time-saving tool when it comes to maintenance.

Simplifying network maintenance

Supplied as standard with the ActivPanel, Promethean Panel Management enables IT administrators to remotely manage essential updates. “Panel management was really easy to set up. A simple enrolment and login process, then you’re good to go,” explained Gareth Lougheed, IT technician. “It’s been a real time-saver for the IT team and has given the teaching staff a much better experience. From a networking perspective, we can securely manage our estate and ensure all panels are running optimally at all times.”

With the panels operating efficiently and effectively, the school has embraced the opportunity to enhance pedagogy with technology. Having benefited from orientation sessions and support from the local Promethean team, teachers are growing in confidence and exploring new ways of teaching with the ActivPanel.

Consistent technology facilitates curriculum customisation

The school-wide implementation means all students benefit from the ActivPanel, from prep to grammar school. In doing so, the school supports consistent curriculum delivery and ensures a seamless transition through education. Teachers are also developing their own preferences for how they use the technology.  

For example, the maths department uses Promethean’s lesson delivery software, ActivInspire, extensively. Teachers prepare flipcharts using graph paper backgrounds, then use digital protractors, rulers, and compasses to create collaborative experiences. The accuracy of the ActivPen combined with the sharpness of the display have also made the ActivPanel a powerful tool for teaching equations.

The connectivity of the ActivPanel has opened new teaching approaches with other classroom devices. Every teacher has a Microsoft™ Surface Pro, which they can use to screen share to the panel. This frees them up to walk around the class and facilitate student engagement in real time.

“The ActivPanel is vastly superior to what we had, especially with the Surface Pro and the freedom of movement the panel allows,” explained Mark Mahood, IT teacher. “It’s perfect for all subjects. And because the image is sharper than ever before, you can clearly view the screen and content from any angle in the classroom.”

The school makes use of existing resources, too, which helps to reduce teacher workload by minimising lesson preparation time. This includes PowerPoint presentations, which are being made more engaging with the ActivPanel. Teachers annotate on top of the presentations, work collaboratively with students to gather feedback, then screenshot and save comments for future classes. The ActivPanel is also part of the school’s General Certificate of Secondary Education A-Level strategy, as example pieces of work can be easily displayed and collectively worked through.

Instant access to online resources 

Teachers have found it particularly useful to launch web applications directly from the ActivPanel, without having to connect to a computer. “Accessing online applications through the web browser is great for instant collaboration and efficiency,” explained Mr Mahood.

YouTube™ is regularly used as a classroom resource, too. Playing video content directly on the ActivPanel frees teachers’ computers up for other tasks. “It’s great that we can use our computers while students are watching educational content on YouTube,” said Mr Mahood. “Before the ActivPanel, if we wanted to show video content, our computers would be needed. Now we can make use of that time to catch up on school emails or prepare lessons.”

The ActivPanel has given teachers greater freedom and flexibility in the classroom, so much so they are now considering moving away from desktop computers entirely. “We’re in a completely new world now,” said Mr Mahood. “Technology has empowered us to explore fresh approaches to teaching, which are transforming the way our students learn. It’s still relatively early days for us and the ActivPanel, but one thing is for sure, it will remain central to our future teaching, learning, and technology strategies.”