Nguyen Bui was facing outdated projectors, expensive bulb replacements, and the need to build a stronger network infrastructure to support 1:1 student devices. His role as Executive Director of Technology Innovation and Initiatives partnered him with Akilah Willery, Executive Director of Instruction Technology Integration at Aldine Independent School District (ISD).
The Tech Decision
After the district received a bond earmarked for the construction of new schools, renovations, and enhancements, Bui and Willery worked with an outside party to conduct a district-wide technology survey. Results from the survey made it clear that it was time to update their technology to the level of neighboring districts.
There was no district-wide standard at the time of the recommendation, and Aldine ISD used a mixture of projectors and TVs.
“Projectors are very expensive to maintain and sometimes teachers had to turn off the lights to make it easier for students to view images,” says Bui.
The district understood that they would need to conduct extensive research to ensure that this update was done correctly.
“We traveled to conferences and made connections with districts across the country,” says Willery. “We were also questioning whether a 1:1 environment was right for us. It was the attractive option for us in terms of how easy it would be to secure funding for the initiative, but we were still questioning if it would result in true innovation in instruction, such as personalized, student-centered lessons. We wanted to ensure that it would truly make an impact on our teachers rather than just substituting one tool for another.”
For the district to move forward with a 1:1 initiative, they needed to create an environment that supported digital learning.
“Devices would have been rendered useless without a rich digital foundation,” says Bui. “Also, our teachers needed to be exposed to and trained on new instructional methodologies and pedagogy.”
As the district began assessing different types of classroom technology, Bui and Willery worked with a group of school principals, teachers, and the district’s C&I Innovation Coaches to test many products and attend tradeshows to gather best practices and ideas.
Aldine traveled to TCEA Convention & Exposition, a national event that attracts thousands of educators who are interested in securing best practices to engage students, enhance curriculum, and increase teacher productivity. After attending TCEA, the district piloted a program that gave teachers access to Wi-Fi, an interactive flat panel display, and a mobile device on a trial basis to see if it changed the way they approached instruction. Teachers involved in the pilot program used interactive flat panel displays from several different companies, but in the end, Promethean offered what the district needed: an interactive flat panel display that works with new and existing technology and that can change the dynamic of instruction in the classroom.
ActivPanel is a premium solution that delivers an easy to use tablet-like experience and puts the digital world at the fingertips of teachers and students. ActivPanel’s unique screen technology continues to offer the industry’s most natural writing experience using, enabling both teachers and students to collaborate in front of the class with ease.
The interactive panel automatically detects differences between pen, touch, and palm erase – allowing teachers to teach efficiently without switching between software tools. The new instant whiteboard brings its unique screen technology to life through free-form writing with practically no script-lag, pinch-zoom navigation, and pre-loaded teaching tools to enhance productivity.
With the ActivPanel, teachers have access to Promethean’s suite of lesson delivery software for free, which includes ActivInspire and ClassFlow. ClassFlow is a cloud-based software that allows teachers to present engaging lessons. With ClassFlow, teachers have access to advanced classroom collaboration tools, such as instant polling and quizzes, and millions of educational resources and activities. ActivInspire is a collaborative lesson delivery software that provides teachers with differentiated lessons, creation tools, and activities to bring their lessons to life.
Compatible with third-party device management software, including Google G-Suite, VMware Airwatch, and Radix VISO, the ActivPanel enables IT administrators the capability, with support Mobile Device Management suites, to manage the ActivPanel centrally and provide over-the-air software updates.
After deciding to move forward with Promethean, Willery says, “We took bits of what we learned from other districts and created a plan to implement the new technology, strengthen the network infrastructure, and update the curriculum.”
Since installing Promethean’s ActivPanel throughout the district, Bui and Willery received a lot of positive feedback from teachers. Willery stated that hearing that the students are getting out of their seats and interacting with the ActivPanel is the most exciting part of the implementation. The students often work in small groups and interact with the ActivPanel to accomplish something that they wouldn’t have been able to do in the past.
Now, the district is updating the curriculum. Aldine puts a heavy emphasis on professional development. “We make sure that our teachers never have to go outside the district or outside of their campus to find the training and support that they need,” said Willery. However, it was important for the district to update how professional development was implemented to avoid using old practices with new equipment.
“We worked with Promethean to restructure our professional development,” says Willery. “Instead of hosting the same afterschool or weekend workshops, we decided to offer our training online through our learning management system.”
In addition to the online training, teachers have access to instructional technology specialists that are trained by Promethean’s Professional Development team and are available on-site at each school to troubleshoot any problems that may arise.