When two of Amy Gower’s daughters had to be at home recently with positive cases of the coronavirus, neither missed a beat or fell behind in their lessons at Brentwood Academy.
In fact, through the private school’s use of technology known as ViewSonic myViewboard, the two girls were essentially involved in classroom activities just as much as their classmates on campus.
“[They] experienced first-hand what an amazing job Brentwood Academy did putting this technology in place,” Gower said. “Our girls got to be ‘in school’ with their peers while physically isolating at home. With the ViewBoards and cameras in each classroom, they got to see friends, answer teachers’ questions in real-time, and even participate in group work.”
After Brentwood Academy had transitioned to full distance-learning using Zoom technology at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, school officials soon began considering solutions to address remote learning needs for when the 2020-21 school year would begin in August.
Chris Allen, the school’s IT director who was at the forefront of that research, presented the plan to use ViewSonic throughout campus. It involved the installation of 70 65-inch ViewSonic myViewboard in all classrooms and in large meeting spaces.
“That was really the goal, to create that same in-person learning setup with the Zoom-based scenarios,” said Allen, who has been at Brentwood Academy for 20 years and is also robotics coach. “What we did here was enhance the learning experience by installing these in every single classroom. It allowed us to pivot any moment from the start of school.
“So from August to today, whether a student was quarantined or there was a positive case in the school, it would allow the students to get the same quality education that they would if they were here in person. It’s basically bringing the classroom to the student at home.”
A key component of the system is the dual camera set-up in the classroom, which allows teachers to flip the second camera to show the entire class during a discussion, enabling those participating from home or elsewhere to be fully involved.
As it happens, Brentwood Academy’s success with the technology caught the eye of tech giant Intel. ViewSonic had chosen the school for a case study on its hybrid learning model, and Intel hired a global marketing firm in September to document the use of the technology both in a home and a classroom setting. The tech video, titled “How Interactive Learning Gets Done,” was released a couple of weeks ago as a national ad campaign on Intel’s customer spotlight page.
“The myViewBoard software combines everything we needed to teach under any circumstance,” said Jeff Bryant, Brentwood Academy’s dean of Academics who worked with Allen to develop the new system and is featured in the Intel video. “From the first time I saw it, I was impressed with the ability of the ViewSonic solution to provide interactivity between teachers and students at a really responsive rate and be adaptable to hybrid scenarios.”
Allen said the benefits of the technology will go well beyond the grip of the pandemic. It’s here to stay.
“That whole element has definitely changed the way we think about how to deliver an educational experience and what the future looks like beyond COVID-19,” he said. “For students who might be missing school for tournaments or extracurricular activities or athletics, it allows them to stay connected to their classes.
“It has really opened up possibilities for us.”