In 2014, the Berkeley County School District was getting ready to open a new middle school to accommodate its rapidly growing population. Berkeley County is located just 75 miles northwest of Washington D.C. and is home to an increasing number of commuters who work in the Washington/Baltimore metropolitan area. This new middle school would be the third new building in four years and Berkeley County was determined to maintain its tradition of providing students with educational excellence and the latest classroom technology.
For the new middle school, the county was looking to move away from using projectors in the classrooms. Nearly every building has some sort of interactive technology inside including interactive projectors and dual-touch interactive whiteboards with a projector. Although those solutions worked well in the past, Berkeley wanted to move in another direction.
“Even with a very good projector there’s going to be a failure rate,” says David Kenney, director of Research and Technology at Berkeley County School District. “The bulbs, of course, fail before the projectors do and bulbs are rather expensive.”
Kenney wanted a solution that would be less costly to maintain, but would still provide a high-quality collaboration experience. He needed to find 45 of whatever device he chose and with the new school moving along quickly, he needed to find the technology fast. Fortunately, Kenney received a little help from the consultant on the state contract. Richard Sylvester of Pomerory, an IT infrastructure management company, found the ViewSonic CDE7051-TL interactive display and brought the product to Kenney’s attention.
The ViewSonic product is an LED display that supports Windows 8 and offers 6-point simultaneous touch functionality. ViewBoard software allows students to interact with the board by highlighting, editing and moving images around in real-time. Pomerory was able to get the ViewSonic display on the state contract, which brought the price down. As a result, Berkeley only spent a few more dollars on the displays than they did on interactive whiteboards. Kenney decided to go with a 70-inch display for the classrooms, which was a smaller surface area than the whiteboards had offered, but that hasn’t been a problem.
“The Teachers love them. With the displays, you don’t have to worry about ambient light coming into the room. There’s no glare. Even with the best whiteboard and projector you have to be concerned with light coming into the room and glaring off the board,” Kenney says.
After the 45 displays were installed in the new middle school, the district purchased additional displays for each of its other middle schools and high school. It ordered the displays on a rolling cart so they could be wheeled between classrooms and used for training by the district’s Technology Integration Specialists.
One of the best parts about Berkeley County’s new middle school is that all staff was hired with the knowledge that they would be expected to use the interactive technology in their classrooms.
“In probably any school in the country there are a number of teachers who are the first adopters and then the ones that drag their feet and say ‘never, I’ll retire first. At this school that’s not the case,”‘ says Kenney.
The first time the ViewSonic displays were seen by the Berkeley County community was at an open house right before the new middle school opened. The district had student ambassadors serve as tour guides. They were the first Berkeley students to get a look at the new technology.
“The kids were just so excited,” says Kenney. They couldn’t wait for school to start so they could use these devices.”