Mission: Interactive Technology for a New School
To remain a leading preparatory educator, Cranbrook Schools rely on the latest technology, like classroom digital white boards, to help teach students and inform visitors. As it has done during a five-year partnership with Cranbrook, AVI-SPL once again provided that technology, overcoming architectural challenges in the process while giving teachers and school technicians the usability they require.
“The majority of our teachers would say they can’t imagine teaching without interactive whiteboards.” – Jeremy Rahn, instructional activity coordinator, Cranbrook Schools
Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is a collection of prestigious private schools that educate nearly 1,700 students in K-12. AVI-SPL’s relationship with Cranbrook goes back to 2007, when the solutions integrator installed multiple SMART Board systems for its classrooms. Since that time, AVI-SPL’s work for the school includes a number of sound system implementations for the school’s hockey arena and auditoriums.
Cranbrook’s commitment to interactive technology continued with the construction of the Kingswood Middle School for Girls. Before groundbreaking took place in May 2009, AVI-SPL was involved in the project, working with the architect, construction team and Kingswood’s staff to determine the best way to integrate the AV solutions.
Action: Getting the Details Right
Working from a consultant’s design, AVI-SPL installed 25 wall-mounted SMART Boards in classrooms and common rooms, as well as a digital signage system in time for Kingswood’s February 2011 opening.
“AVI-SPL took in both what our faculty wanted, and what the architect wanted, and integrated solutions that took into account the changes in technology,” explains Craig Hoerenschemeyer, Cranbrook’s project manager.
AVI-SPL’s team worked fast and solved problems to ensure that the final install would be exactly as Cranbrook had envisioned it. The location of many classroom windows along the top of the classroom walls posed a challenge with the SMART Board installation, so AVI-SPL partnered with technical consultants and Cranbrook staff to ensure that they would be mounted at the desired height.
Because Cranbrook wanted to avoid wall plugs for safety reasons, connections to control laptops and VCRs were run from the podium directly into the floor. Extron MediaLink mounted in each of the lecterns enables teachers to turn the SMART projectors on and off, and switch sources. Working with Extron, the AVI-SPL team came up with a solution so that each SMART projector and Extron MediaLink works in harmony. As a result, the projectors don’t have to be reprogrammed from default mode in the event of a power outage.
In the school’s lobby, a Cisco digital signage display is used for making announcements, providing notices about upcoming events and information for visitors.
Impact: Technology That Supports Instruction
At Cranbrook, technology isn’t implemented for its own sake. AVI-SPL’s integration for Kingswood was the latest in a partnership that values tools like SMART Boards and Cisco digital signage for their ability to create better experiences for teachers, students, staff, parents and visitors. Interactive SMART Boards are also used in Kingswood’s exercise room to show and plot fitness goals.
During half-day classes, Instructional Technology Coordinators Jeremy Rahn and Jennifer Uhl, who are both SMART certified, show new faculty how to use the SMART Boards. They also offer advanced classes on SMART Response (an interactive classroom assessment tool) and 3D document cameras.
“We assess what a teacher wants to do in the classroom,” says Rahn, who is also a performing arts instructor for the school. “We try to encourage interactivity and getting the students involved. The kids pick up on it incredibly quickly.”
Rahn has dealt with his share of teachers both excited and reluctant about using the new technology, but is able to win over the doubters once they discover the power of SMART Boards.
“They make a significant difference,” Rahn says of the technology. “The majority of our teachers would say they can’t imagine teaching without interactive whiteboards.”
Such is Cranbrook’s dedication to improving education through technology that it was named a SMART Showcase School of the Year for 2012.
“It brings prestige to the school,” says Rahn of the recognition. “SMART also provides us with software licensing. We’re one of first places they will demo new software or hardware. We’re open to having other schools visit so we can act as an advocate for the products.”
“SMART really does take care of us as much as they can,” adds Carolyn Miller, Cranbrook’s instructional equipment technician. Miller says the school started using SMART Boards circa 1998.
“We’ve had SMART Boards for a long time,” says Miller. “You can’t beat them for software. Our teachers really love it. Students love it.”