Case Study: Where Digital Interactive Displays Support Learning
Leeds City College in West Yorkshire, UK is the city’s largest Further Education institution, with 26,000 students and 1,000 staff.
When the college was designing its new core building, the planning team reviewed the teaching and presentation hardware in all classrooms. They wanted to move away from a mix of whiteboards and projectors, which were using outdated technology. They decided that they needed one easy to use solution throughout the new building, which would be the same in each classroom.
While the construction of the building went ahead, a brief was created to incorporate touchscreen displays into all teaching areas of the new college campus. While most buildings would need a single interactive display, in special areas it would be necessary for two screens to work simultaneously together.
KPMS Commercial, one of the UK’s leading suppliers and installers of Audio Visual systems into schools, colleges and businesses was chosen as the system integrator for the project. Ben Peacock, Head of IT at Leeds City College said:
‘When we put the initial brief together there was no specific model in mind. However, during a scoping piece of work with KPMS, it was recommended that we take a look at Sharp’s BIG PAD.’
‘From a technical point-of-view, we were impressed by the quality of the Sharp product, as well as the software functionality in terms of teaching and learning.’
Graham Eland, Director of IT concurs, ‘For the college, the specification included connectivity and technical aspects of the displays which matched our requirements. I was also impressed with the five-year warranty and the fact that it isn’t a consumer unit with an interactive overlay. The construction is exactly what we needed – it’s excellent technology that will benefit our teaching and learning strategies’
Jason Hirst, Sales Manager at KPMS, said, ‘We looked at many different brands with the Leeds team, and Sharp’s BIG PAD was the popular choice. This was because everyone not only liked the look and feel of the touchscreen but they also liked the enhanced audio of the device, which meant we didn’t need to add external speakers to the installation.’
SUBHEAD: Compelling BIG PAD Features
Before placing an order, teachers trialled the display and gave their feedback. ‘The trial proved very positive.’ said Graham. ‘We looked at many different models and suppliers but the Sharp was an outstanding solution for us, based on the quality of the product. Cost was also a key factor but primarily the technology and functionality of the BIG PAD met the needs of the College.’
As a result of the positive trialling of the display, Leeds City College placed an order for 52 Sharp BIG PAD interactive displays made up of the 70-inch Sharp BIG PAD PN-70SC3 and Sharp BIG PAD PN-70SC5, along with a smaller number of the larger 80-inch Sharp BIG PAD PN-80SC5 to be installed.
Most of the 70-inch displays are installed in teaching spaces at Leeds’ Print Works Campus (30), in the University Centre (15) and in the Enfield Centre (2). In addition to this, extra displays are available for students to use in the open plan Independent Learning Zone at Print Works (one 80-inch display), two 80-inch displays are installed on mobile trolleys for events and as additional resources when required, and one 80-inch display is in the Print Works Meeting Room for hire or for staff use.
Once all of the screens had been installed, a comprehensive training course for all staff was put in place so that everyone felt comfortable and confident to use the displays.
Impact on Teaching
With the new academic year starting, staff and students started to use the BIG PAD displays straight away.
‘Collaborative learning was one of the key requirements we were looking for in this type of technology.’ Graham told us. ‘We’re already starting to see this happen more and more, as many students are working interactively with BIG PAD on many projects.’
Jennifer Aleksandrowicz, Learning Technologist at Leeds City College, said, ‘Because the displays are interactive, they help people learn more. Getting students to write straight onto the board creates more fun and engaging lessons. This level of functionality was something that we didn’t have access to before.’
Jennifer also highlighted that BIG PAD supports multiple users: ‘you have the functionality of having more than one person being able to write on the board, so getting the whole class participating.’
It’s not just students who have enjoyed using Sharp BIG PAD displays. Teachers have also discovered the benefits, from being able to use uniform tools regardless of the screen they use, to the software itself.
Many have found the pen tool allows them to be more productive, while the handwriting-to-text functionality adds not only legibility to what is being written, but also has the added benefit of giving confidence to those who believe they have poor handwriting skills.
‘We’ve also heard feedback that teachers like the shape tool. If you draw a circle, there is a tendency for it not to be right. However, with the tool it looks right every time.’ Jennifer said.
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