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Preparing Students for Future Jobs through Interactivity and Collaboration

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Preparing Students for Future Jobs through Interactivity and Collaboration
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CHALLENGE

Expose students to collaborative technology in preparation for the workforce and develop students' interest to pursue high-tech jobs.

SOLUTION

Standardizing on the Epson BrightLink ultra shortthrow interactive display to provide students with large, bright collaborative workspaces well-suited for modern classrooms.

Preparing Students for Future Jobs through Interactivity and Collaboration

Muskego Norway School District (MNSD) is thinking differently about its college and career readiness due to the large growth of high-tech jobs and tech-focused educational programs in the region. “Industry 4.0 is upon us, yet there is a limited supply of qualified workers to fill an influx of future jobs,” said Tony Spence, chief information officer at MNSD. “We want our students to develop an interest in pursuing high-tech careers.” To help provide the nearly 5,000 students with an opportunity to become members of the high-tech workforce, MNSD has changed the way it approaches instruction. They’re exposing students to new technologies and increased collaboration. By partnering with Epson to install the BrightLink® 3LCD ultra short-throw interactive display in every classroom, the district has shown its priority for content sharing between teachers and students.

Choosing the BrightLink

The district started the technology transformation when the community ratified a referendum for the building of a new middle school to include state-of-the-art technology. “We had piloted Epson BrightLink displays at Mill Valley Elementary the previous year and loved the interactivity, so we were confident this was the right technology for every classroom at Muskego Lakes,” said Spence. The BrightLink interactive display transforms any flat surface such as existing whiteboards, plain walls, and tables into an up to 100-inch interactive workspace. This eliminates the need for dedicated electronic boards and allows teachers to still use their whiteboard. With the BrightLink’s built-in interactivity features, teachers and students use BrightLink pens or touch to control the interactive workspace like a giant tablet.

They can also annotate and draw on projected images and documents, making it a powerful tool for classroom instruction. Muskego Lakes Middle School installed 61 Epson BrightLink interactive displays throughout the building. Because of its popularity and ease of use, Spence made the decision to outfit all Mill Valley Elementary and Bay Lane Elementary classrooms with BrightLink interactive displays as well.

Increased Interactivity

The BrightLink creates the opportunity for teachers and students to interact in new ways. During a Family Consumer Education course, the teacher livestreams food preparation and students’ work areas from her phone using the Epson iProjection™ App onto the BrightLink display for the whole class to see. In addition to Epson’s own built-in Easy Interactive Tools and its iProjection App, the BrightLink includes a one year subscription to the SMART Learning Suite Software. Many MNSD teachers were already very familiar with the interactive software, which eliminates the need for extensive training and allows teachers to use lessons they have already developed in SMART Notebook®.

Hands-on in the Makerspace

As part of opening its new state-of-the-art middle school, MNSD gave students and teachers unprecedented access to new cutting-edge technology in its new fab lab makerspace. “We were one of two districts chosen by a local technology manufacturer to be a ‘showcase’ example of the future of makerspaces,” Spence explains. “When we started construction on our new middle school, it was a great opportunity to design and build our first fab lab.” The 900 square-foot fab lab has 3D printers, laser engravers, a desktop CNC machine to cut aluminum, vinyl cutters, and more – all to give students access to the tools they need to explore STEM and high-tech career skills. The fab lab’s BrightLink interactive display has become a hub for collaboration and connects students to an online makerspace curriculum that provides lessons for using the fab lab’s hardware. During a recent lesson where students designed and printed their own three-dimensional logos for products they invented, MNSD’s K-8 librarian and tech integrator Toni Heinowski used the BrightLink to demonstrate how to use the design software. “Regardless of what software and hardware we’re using for a project, I demonstrate everything using the BrightLink,” added Heinowski. The BrightLink display can also be used to facilitate feedback sessions on the design process. “I love asking the class to provide feedback on their classmates’ designs,” said Heinowski. “If a student has a question about a specific part, we can zoom in on the design element in question. Students use their classmates’ feedback to improve their designs in real-time right on the board.

The BrightLink makes it super easy for students to manipulate their designs and the whole process gives them a chance to collaborate and learn from their peers.” Other projects students have completed include using the laser engraver to engrave on a wide variety of materials including wood and metal and designing and assembling 3D objects.

Large Installations Benefit from the Right Installer

In order to get the middle and elementary schools open in time for the school year to start, MNSD was tasked with installing a large number of BrightLink interactive displays in a short amount of time. MNSD hired a local BrightLink installation company, Technogaf LLC, to handle the project. Spence was impressed with how quickly Steve Gaffer, founder of Technogaf, worked to get his classroom installations complete. Gaffer worked so skillfully that he could install up to 10 BrightLinks a day.

Standardizing for the Future

With 130 BrightLink displays now installed in classrooms and other general spaces such as labs, coaching spaces, and libraries across three of its six schools, the district is about halfway to its goal of having BrightLink interactivity in every classroom. The district anticipates completing this project in the next two years. “So much thought went into the technology choices at these new schools,” added Spence. “I’m happy to say we have the right solution in place.”