Many schools want devices that are easy to integrate into hybrid environments, which is likely why Chromebooks are the best-selling computing device in K-12 education worldwide.
Wappingers Central School District
Hopewell Junction, New York
10,400 students, 895 teachers, and 15 schools, including two high schools, one alternative high school, two junior high schools, and 10 elementary schools.
Boosting Student Engagement in the Classroom with Interactive Audio Visual Displays
Keeping students involved in learning and excited about going to school is a growing challenge in our era of digital transformation. Wappingers Central School District in New York solved it by installing cutting-edge teaching tools in their K-12 classrooms.
Educators wanted a cutting-edge learning environment in every classroom. Bluum delivered a solution tailored to the district’s technology plan for maximizing collaboration and interactivity in all their schools.
Old Classroom Audio Visual Presents New Engagement Challenges
Technology evolves rapidly in every sector, and education is no exception. As the information age unfolds and the world’s digital transformation accelerates across industries and professions, interactive engagement and collaboration are becoming increasingly vital. Keeping students who are digital natives actively involved in the learning process at school is more important and more challenging than ever with disruptions and distractions emerging as constant hurdles to be overcome.
Wappingers Central School District (WCSD) in New York faced these same 21st-century challenges with keeping students actively involved at school and found an education technology (EdTech) solution for surmounting classroom barriers to academic success. The district’s technology plan lays out a vision of offering “a technology-rich learning experience for each student throughout their educational years, kindergarten through grade 12.” Their ambitious technology goals can be found on page 4 of the document linked above.
The multi-year technology plan called for equipping “teachers to use technology to create a student-centered environment that enhances the learning process.” Wappingers CSD is a stellar example of educators succeeding in the difficult task of improving student engagement at school to drive better learning outcomes by leveraging the high-tech power of new interactive audio visual (AV) learning tools. The district technology team’s planning and implementation experiences serve as a student-engagement paragon for educational institutions of every size and level, from pre-kindergarten through higher education.
Their forward-looking technology plan focused heavily on addressing the following challenges:
- Teachers needed the ability to easily connect with the AV displays and share lessons from their computers or tablets
- Being a school district that uses Google’s educational platforms, screencasting to classroom AV displays from student devices such as Chromebooks was an essential capability that their existing technology could not offer
- Evaluating multiple AV display options took a long time and finding a solution for both teachers and students to connect and screencast using different devices was a challenge for almost five years
- Outdated whiteboard and AV displays in classrooms, including television sets, did not offer enough interactivity to keep students engaged in lessons
- Older displays were breaking down, running on software that was no longer supported with updates, and their screens were becoming dim or faulty, lacking responsiveness
- Some classrooms used outdated projectors that also did not offer an interactive experience and provided poor AV quality, with dimming projector lamps and low-fidelity desktop speakers
- The district needed a superior level of personalized after-sale technical support and Professional Development training services for its teachers
Addressing the Need to Actively Engage Students in the Classroom
Wappingers Central School District proudly bears the motto "Empower. Challenge. Grow." Educators experienced the same difficulties in holding the attention of students as other school districts throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Since the start of the pandemic, finding ways to continue educating their students safely and effectively was the district’s top priority as circumstances and governmental guidelines were in constant flux. As with most schools and districts in the U.S. and Canada, faculty and staff at WCSD quickly transitioned in 2020 from in-person to remote learning.
Student engagement in class was already a priority before the pandemic, and it became even more important when in-person learning returned, and teachers were back in classrooms with students full-time. Despite their best efforts, over time, WCSD educators noted decreases in active involvement in classrooms that relied on aging audio-visual teaching tools. As a new normal emerged, it was clear to the district’s technology planners that more cutting-edge classroom AV upgrades were merited, so the job was to accelerate their efforts that had already been underway.
After determining that continuing to live up to their motto meant they would have to invest in new interactive audio-visual (AV) hardware, software and services—new classroom engagement tools and resources for teachers to support their students—the upstate New York school district consulted with Bluum, North America’s largest single-source provider of full-spectrum EdTech products and services (formerly known as Trox+Tierney).
“What's been difficult, especially lately, is substitutes. We found ourselves having to throw individuals into classrooms who often don’t have a computer login at that moment.” Art Schouten
Art Schouten leads WCSD's technology planning and implementation.
Joining Forces to Make Classrooms More Interactive
Before implementing their latest technology plan, WCSD identified and documented decreases in student engagement, along with other challenges such as providing access to temporary users, including substitute teachers.
According to Art Schouten, Director of Instructional Technology, Data, Assessment, Library Media Services, and Technology Education for the district, “We now have our day-to-day business where teachers are logging in and they're taking care of all their instruction and using the interactivity of the audio visual display. What's been difficult, especially lately, is substitutes. We found ourselves having to throw individuals into classrooms who often don’t have a computer login at that moment.”
Bluum’s education technology consultants studied the district’s EdTech goals and worked closely with the IT and AV administrators to determine their needs and limitations, including connectivity requirements, classroom dimensions, class sizes, budget, customizability, advanced cybersecurity and other priorities.
After a thorough assessment and recommendations by Bluum, WCSD decided that new digital teaching and learning tools were the most effective and efficient way to engage students and improve academic and mental health outcomes. In alignment with their technology plan, they wanted a state-of-the-art interactive AV display in every classroom.
The Right Classroom AV Solution for Wappingers Central School District
Understanding WCSD’s challenges and assessing their requirements, Bluum proposed a solution that addressed all their AV needs. Using a highly consultative approach, Bluum worked closely with Schouten and his district technology team to create a plan.
Together, Bluum and WCSD decided the best all-in-one hardware and software solution for the district’s classrooms was Newline's RS and RS+ series of interactive flat-panel displays (IFPDs or IFPs).
Implementing the Interactivity Solution
The Wappingers district’s consultative solution phase included multiple product demonstrations staged by Bluum to show the proposed interactive display units from Newline, a leading designer and manufacturer of cutting-edge IFPs. The units addressed the use cases and challenges WCSD had with their old digital whiteboards.
There are multiple benefits realized by adopting new IFPs and WCSD immediately recognized nine of the most important for their unique goals and challenges:
- Easy for anyone to walk up and use with no training (simple plug-and-play functionality for teachers, including visiting faculty who often don’t have immediate access to the school IT network)
- Seamless screen-casting for students from their Chromebooks
- Remote display management for teachers
- Compatibility with the software the teachers used (Android OS allowed teachers to connect their Google accounts to share documents via the IFP)
- Compatible with the hardware and software used by students
- Superior audio visual quality for an engaging learning experience enhanced with brilliant video and sharp audio
- Access to the cloud for saving, sharing and presenting
- Touchscreen interface with object recognition
- Dynamic lesson content available immediately
Easy Purchasing and Full-Service Support
A 75-inch demo unit was delivered to the district to try out for themselves. Happy with the demo and convinced with the comprehensive functionality presentations they were taken through by Bluum, Wappingers CSD procured 50 IFPs and put them to the test in classrooms, then expanded to 200. The success of the first installations led to another round, equipping a total of 350 classrooms with new IFPs.
Purchasing was made easy by Bluum being an approved vendor on the district’s existing technology contract. Free shipping and a 5-year warranty were included with every IFP unit, along with free software updates. Bluum’s return merchandise authorization (RMA) process also ensures that the learning does not have to stop, with a replacement display sent out immediately if there is a technical issue with any unit that requires repair. Additionally, service and repairs are available through Bluum throughout the whole product lifecycle, which extends beyond the warranty, and buyback options allow educators to stretch every dollar.
Turn On Your IFP and Power Up Classroom Instruction
According to Schouten, “One of the main benefits is the ease of use. We did not have to spend a lot of time doing additional professional development and training to get the teachers up and running once the equipment was installed.”
“That was huge because that usually takes a long time. Sometimes you put new equipment in the room, and then you're spending the next three to six-plus months training teachers to get up to speed. The learning curve with these Newline displays was almost immediate. Teachers turned it on, and it made sense. The layout of it, the ease of use—very simple, highly intuitive. They're able to start using it quickly and more frequently.”
As for the login issue, Schouten said, “With the Wi-Fi option you don't need special usernames and passwords, so any individual can walk in and immediately at least use the board for classroom instruction. It also allowed us to have outside entities—such as groups coming to teach CPR, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts—use a classroom and have an interactive board without having to log into our network system.”
Wappingers CSD was able to bring hassle-free collaboration and engagement into classrooms with the Newline RS and RS+ displays in alignment with the rich interactive educational experience the district set out to deliver in their technology plan. Teachers got their students more actively involved in classroom learning by using 75-inch 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) interactive displays that empower classes to collaborate on the same sharp, bright, colorful screen. Teachers are now able to bring their lessons to life with a vibrant and vivid focal point for their classrooms that is easy for anyone to use.
“Bluum was the perfect EdTech partner from start to finish. They were able to address the complexity of our needs, especially in a multi-platform learning environment with diverse wants and necessities in each of our schools.” — Art Schouten
Repeated orders are a testament to the district choosing the right classroom AV solution, fully supported by the right learning technology experts.
“Bluum was the perfect EdTech partner from start to finish,” said Schouten. “They were able to address the complexity of our needs, especially in a multi-platform learning environment with diverse wants and necessities in each of our schools. They were able to provide a number of options that fit our unique needs, helping us achieve a better sense of equity and uniformity throughout the Wappingers CSD learning community. With their assistance, we have been able to streamline our classrooms and provide appropriate solutions within each of our learning spaces. We continue to be impressed with their support. With each new project, we have confidence that Bluum will have the software, resources, and training that we will need."
Cultivating New Possibilities
A shining example of how educators can use classroom AV to enhance teaching and learning is on display when you step inside a newly upgraded classroom anywhere in Wappingers Central School District. It has redesigned education around the technology of today to enable its students to explore subjects alongside their teachers, building strong foundations for future career success. With the addition of interactive flat-panel touchscreen displays, WCSD experienced greater student engagement, better connectivity, and higher teacher satisfaction ratings with potent digital teaching tools at their fingertips that save time and energy.
“Bluum has always been there to help us whenever we need it. If there’s a new service that they’re offering, they always make sure they reach out to have a conversation. And that’s generally what it always is. It’s just a conversation of like-minded individuals that are looking to make education better.” — Art Schouten
Wappingers CSD’s solution for student engagement in the classroom also provides a foundation for expanding into new teaching modalities. The latest IFPs sold and supported by Bluum feature the power to deliver effective, efficient remote instruction and blended learning.
While older digital whiteboards, conventional flat-screen video monitors, and digital projectors invite passive viewing and allow only limited interactions, new IFP displays in classrooms equip educators to craft cutting-edge, student-centered, data-powered lessons, transforming schools into modern spaces that drive collaboration and limitless learning.
Constantly improving software for interactive flat-panel displays now features data analytics that make it fast and easy to check attendance, gauge the responsiveness of students, and provide deeper insights into student performance and the impacts of their learning environments. From kindergarten through college, students are now learning by watching videos, and with new cloud-camera-equipped IFPs, teachers can also record lessons for sharing and viewing later, helping with absences and curricular reinforcement. New and expanded capabilities come with each generation of software and hardware, opening new pedagogical possibilities.
Having a full-service EdTech partner with a comprehensive suite of solutions and services ensures a positive return on investment throughout the product lifecycle and every stage of the continuous improvement journey.
“Bluum has always been there to help us whenever we need it,” said Schouten. “If there’s a new service that they’re offering, they always make sure they reach out to have a conversation. And that’s generally what it always is. It’s just a conversation of like-minded individuals that are looking to make education better.”