The Victorian College for the Deaf is a specialist school that teaches the Victorian curriculum to deaf students. Through a rich, deaf-specific educational program, the college equips deaf young people with the skills, knowledge and experience for a prosperous future in the hearing world.
The only bilingual college of its kind in Australia, VCD focuses on developing strong communication, literacy and numeracy skills, with AUSLAN as the instructional language and English as the language for reading, writing and speaking.
The college has occupied the same vibrant and verdant St Kilda Road campus since it was founded in 1860. But today, it is a modern teaching establishment that utilises all that technology offers to help its hearing and deaf staff provide a safe and engaging learning environment for its 60 students.
Keeping students safe
The college, like all schools, places student safety as a top priority. They have to be able to manage potential evacuation and lockdown situations, and communicate safety information. They also have to signal to students and teachers when lessons start and end. “Most schools have auditory PA systems”, says Brenton Wade, the college’s IT manager. “But with all students and many of the staff here being deaf, traditional PA systems, alarms and a ‘school bell’ don’t do the job.” The college was looking for a way to get important information rapidly to classrooms.
VCD aims to actively engage students in lessons and make learning an immersive experience. With deaf students, all teaching is via visual media, so whiteboards, projected PowerPoint slides and worksheets are crucial. “You can never have too much whiteboard space”, says college Principal Marg Tope. “But we wanted to make our teaching tools less clunky and more engaging.”
The college saw ASI demonstrating Clevertouch interactive panels at an education technology conference, and knew they were just what they needed.
Brenton explains: “ASI supplied not just the technology, but support throughout the entire project: consultation in designing the solution; the hardware; professional development and training for our teachers; and building the solution into the school IT and teaching ecosystem.”
The technology consists of 75 inch, 4k resolution panels, mounted on portable, height adjustable stands. Features include dual pens, connectivity to the college’s network and the ability to instantly save documents to the school’s Google cloud platform. The panels have 20 points of touch, which means that several students can interact with them at once.
Every teacher has their own style, and the success of technology in the classroom relies on teachers being able to adapt it to the way they teach. Based on their 35 years’ experience providing technology solutions for education, ASI gave VCD’s teachers the confidence that they could use the panels to complement, not dictate, their style. They provided training for the teachers, showing them how to use the panels to get the best learning outcomes.
Safety information, such as notice of an evacuation or lockdown situation, can immediately be sent to all staff from any associated device.
The Clevertouch panels act as a ‘visual PA’ system, with all panel content managed from a central point. During the pandemic, the college plays handwashing reminder videos to the classrooms. The panels also perform the important role of ‘school bell’, signaling the end of lessons.
ASI helped teachers understand how to engage students via the Clevertouch. Teachers now use the pens, for example, to create a ‘vocabulary competition’ with students writing their words on the panel.
Digital learning records
The panel allows teachers to take real time digital records as evidence of student work or to share with parents.
Teacher notes for PowerPoint presentations ensure all teachers deliver the same material. The panels allow the notes to be visible on the teacher’s laptop, but not to the students. It is easier for teachers to use notes, improving the consistency of teaching.
A long term, fully integrated solution
ASI’s technology and education experience ensures the college has a solution for the long term and which will integrate with and enhance their entire teaching program.
Once the teachers are comfortable with the fundamentals of using the panels, ASI will provide additional training to show them how to build more of the curriculum around the panels. They’ll look at the software that comes with the panels, such as the Lynx lesson builder, and Snowflake, a teachers’ community for sharing curriculum linked lessons, building bespoke quizzes and other interactive activities.
“We’re just at the beginning of finding out how to be clever with Clevertouch”, says Marg.