St Bernard’s College

Interactive collaborative teaching at St Bernard’s College

Stimulating new open plan learning spaces and complementary technologies are transforming the experiences of collaborative teachers and students at St Bernard’s College. A fleet of lag-free, wireless ZTouch displays support an engaging, collaborative environment.

St. Bernard’s College, in Essendon, Melbourne, is a Catholic school catering for more than 1,500 boys from years 7-12. In 2017, as part of major renovations to the school, St Bernard’s conducted a comprehensive review of its teaching methodologies. The evaluation resulted in the inclusion of creative collaborative teaching, within large open spaces, for groups of up to 90 students.

The Challenge

Securing highly responsive interactive screens that were robust, competitively priced and fully supported. 

The Solution

Large wireless ZTouch screens are now being shared in spaces catering to up to 90 students. 

The Benefits
  • Responsive, no lag connectivity
  • 5 Year on site warranty
  • Competitive pricing
  • Reliable, robust
  • Targeted, helpful training

Our ZTouch screens have been tested in normal and abnormal circumstances. Teachers are finding them much more responsive than anything else we tested. And the toughened glass screens have proved themselves up against groups of Year 9 boys!

Jason Blakey Head of Information Systems,
St Bernard’s College

The Challenge

Rather than standard classrooms, with no breakout spaces, St Bernard’s trialled combining 2-3 classes in one open area. Students with similar skills sets collaborated in small groups or worked independently on individual tasks. “We started with teaching maths in this new, energised environment,” says Jason Blakey, Head of Information Systems at St Bernard’s College.

In a consultative approach between teachers and the school’s IT team, decisions were made as to what technologies would drive learning for the future at St Bernard’s.

“What the teachers wanted was given weight in how the in-the-round learning areas were designed and fitted out. Having experienced earlier iterations of smart touch screens, they were clear that they wanted the latest wireless, interactive touch displays to complement their lesson plans,” says Jason.

The school’s IT team knew that some third party display solutions have connectivity challenges. “Our stipulations were for a solution that would work seamlessly in our Apple Mac environment, be reliable and give us access to Airplay,” Jason says.

“Budget was also a large consideration, particularly as there were 3 spaces being fitted out. If we hadn’t been able to get the right price, we would have had to compromise and take smaller panels rather than what we actually needed to collaborative-teach our large groups of students,” he says.

The Solution

In conjunction with CompNow, St Bernard’s created a research centre to trial new collaborative and interactive learning technologies, and associated peripherals.

“We had seen CompNow’s expertise and thorough design capabilities in action during previous projects. While the ZTouch was relatively new on the market, we had confidence in the solution they were putting together for us,” Jason says.

St Bernard’s was given a demonstration of the new ZTouch screens being piloted at another school. This site was also leveraging the essential Google EShare and Airplay connectivity.

“The ZTouch option covered all our requirements and was also very cost effective given the large size of displays we needed,” Jason says.

“We were buying 13 units in our first procurement round. Coming to the party on price was too much of a challenge for other brands we looked at. But CompNow was keen to assist with sharp pricing on the 86” screens.”

CompNow set up the firmware on each panel and had them delivered within the crucial timeframe stipulated by the builders. Some of the order were to be installed as fixed, while others are moveable on trolleys.

Introductory training sessions were run by CompNow for both the IT team and teachers so the momentum for the screens’ use was set from day one.

The Benefits

For the school’s collaborative teachers, “the ZTouch is much more responsive than anything else we tested. Teachers can write on the board without any lag, so they can keep thoughts & concentration rather than being thrown off by slow or jittery tracking.

“And one of the biggest bugbears from the older technologies has been removed by the wireless ZTouch. They aren’t delayed any more trying to find adapters or fiddling with cables,” Jason says.

From IT’s perspective, as it wouldn’t be practical to send displays of this size away for any potential repairs, “so the five year onsite warranty for the ZTouch was something else that made CompNow’s bid very competitive”.

“One question we had was whether the ZTouch’s audio/video playback would be sufficient for our large areas – we didn’t want to have to add on external systems and have problems with overlapping sound. And we’ve proven that the built-in audio does what the specs said.

“Another potential concern was the video streaming and that playback might drop frames depending on traffic, but it’s all working really well.

“The ZTouch decision has been a great one for St Bernard’s,” Jason says.

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