Elite private schools need to stay at the head of a fast technology curve in order to attract students and meet admission quotas. With a 126 year legacy, Ipswich Girls Grammar School, one of the leading private schools in Queensland, Australia, didn’t lack for name recognition. But technology-wise, the school discovered that the solutions it was using across its campus had long passed the expiration date.
“I walked around the school and noticed all these monitors propped up with telephone books and quite honestly, it was a bit of a shambles,” says Paul Murrin, Director of Technology at IGGS.
In addition, the school auditorium was still running on legacy AV equipment, limiting the technical potential of school productions in terms of how large images could be projected on the stage without the people in front of them causing a shadow effect.
Perhaps most importantly, the school also found it was using dated classroom technology that was not at all user friendly, hampering the effectiveness of lessons that made use of the device.
By 2017, the administration had reached a point of frustration where they felt the most of the technology the school had been using needed replacement to effectively serve its population of 930 students, which ran from early education through to grade six and then girls only from grade seven though to twelve.
“It was time for a renewal,” said Dr. Peter Britton, Principal and Chief Executive Officer at IGGS, describing a disjointed patent of IT equipment around the school. “We were seeking to identify a provider that could help take us along the journey, to unite it all and work with us come up with a solution that could meet our needs.”
The first technology problem that IGGS set out to solve were the monitors used by staff, most of which were approaching the 10 year mark. Murrin chose BenQ for the high screen resolution and height adjustability that was perfect for users of different statures and removing the need to put books underneath them.
After seeing how perfectly a newly-acquired set of BenQ monitors suited their needs and being deeply impressed by the speed by which they arrived, the school reached out to its supplier to see what other challenges BenQ could help them to resolve.
Among these was making a significant upgrade to its projector technology in the school lecture hall to extend the space’s functions beyond simple assemblies. According to Daniel Maher, Audio Visual Supervisor at IGGS, the new 4K high brightness short throw projector IGGS acquired offers a range of benefits over the school’s older system, not the least of which being that they can now use over three quarters of the stage without casting a shadow on the projection.
“This makes it ideal for use in creating things like backdrops for performances or for musicals,” explains Maher. “Furthermore, because the new projector is digital, it gives us crisp, clear images, amazing colors and a level of brightness that really bring presentations to life in a large area like our hall.”
Murrin notes how the previous projectors required frequent lamp replacement, which was both costly and required dangerous scaffolding. The new BenQ solution provides 20,000 hours of maintenance-free operation, preventing extra expenses on lamp replacement and maintenance, which has saved the school approximately $3,500 in costs over the life of the projector.
What’s more, the projector is helping the lecture hall gather momentum in the community, with discussions being held for leveraging the space for other events.
However, the core of IGGS’ journey to become a truly 21st century educational institution was utilizing technology to better help students learn.
Previously, the school was using nearly decade old interactive classroom projector technology in its classrooms. The projectors were not height adjustable for smaller children and often ended up sitting unused. On top of that, the products were at end-of-life and changing the bulbs already did little to improve image quality. The school wanted a solution that would both increase teacher and student engagement while offering longevity.
The BenQ Interactive Flat Panel solutions were so enthusiastically received by teachers, who praised the quality of the 4K resolution as well as the boards’ responsiveness.
“We (both students and the teacher) love the BenQ board in our room, said Andrea Ferrando, teacher at IGGS. “The children can see their work really easily, and regardless of whether we are projecting student work up to the board using a BenQ document camera, or if students are using the internet, it just works. The board is very responsive to student handwriting when they use the whiteboard setting. It is significantly better than the boards we had been using.”
Kathleen Liddel, who also teaches in the junior school, agrees. “I really like features Floating Toolbar that runs on the board. It allows me to pause content whenever I want and underline keywords for the kids to really make sure that they are understanding what I'm talking about.”
Some teachers at IGGS are so happy with the IFP that they leave it on all day, using the BenQ InstaQShare app to cast content to the screen. Students also make ample use of the app from their laptops, which teachers say is especially helpful for shyer students to share their work. The IFP takes collaboration even farther from there, with students making changes or additions to their classmates work at the same time via the EZ Write function, which was a major selling point for IGGS.
“Best of all,” added Liddel, “I'm not juggling multiple desktops, which I use to find quick tricky with our previous solution.”
Since implementing the IFPs, teachers are seeing a roughly 50% growth in student engagement in the course material, with students utilizing the myriad of features to assist with their learning and demonstrating their understanding.
For its business classrooms in the higher school, IGGS needed a more presentation-based solution since the focus was more on clearly presenting information than interactive learning. Two issues to overcome were the ceiling height, which varied from other buildings on the campus, and the issue of light coming in from the windows that occupied most of the walls, which necessitated using a thick curtain to make the room dark enough to see the images. The business teachers also wanted a projector solution without a long start up cycle so that they could begin the lesson immediately.
In order to overcome the issues, IGGS installed the BenQ short throw laser projectors in classrooms in their business faculty, which was especially popular among staff for the easy installation and high brightness. Teachers were also extremely pleased by the instant on, the instant off feature – which saves them approximately 5 minutes per class - and their ability to project clear images in broad daylight.
“Aside from how crisp the image is, from an IT maintenance and budget point of view, the BenQ projectors are fantastic,” says Sian Jones, IT Support at IGGS. “Being laser projectors, we don’t have to keep replacing bulbs or filters. We don’t have to keep calibrating the projectors. We quite literally simply put the projector in the classroom leave them alone.”
Britton also commended the BenQ IFP technology for its role in helping IGGS to connect with people in overseas countries such as China. The school has also opted for an interactive panel solution in its conference rooms to enhance discussion and collaboration on academic issues.
“One of the things that panel has done for executive meetings and other departmental meetings at the school is provide us with the opportunity to move seamlessly between presenters, to have multiple people write on the screen at once, which has allowed us to facilitate a wide range of different strategies that we have used to achieve an end.”
Britton added that IGGS has a range of other projects involving other technologies that they are currently discussing with BenQ. “This partnership has really opened doors for us in terms of opportunities to enhance learning at Ipswich Girls Grammar School.”
“It’s definitely a talking point when taking kids and families around on a tour,” adds Murrin. It’s a bonus for them to see that we are a school that’s progressing with technology.”
Murrin said that IGGS’ overwhelming satisfaction with the BenQ solution has already made the brand the key supplier for the school on future technology procurements.
“I can save a lot of time and effort by turning to a company like BenQ, who have become a trusted partner, to see what they offer as their range is so extensive.”