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Sharp’s Big Pads help prepare pupils for world of work

Woodchurch High School in Birkenhead, UK has replaced its aging short-throw classroom projectors with 76 ‘Big Pad’ interactive flat panel displays from Sharp.

In addition to upgrading the school’s technology offering, the move is also designed to help prepare pupils for work after they finish school. “Pupils will be using office technology as soon as they start working, stated Steve Woods, computer science teacher at Woodchurch High School. “They are expected to be familiar with it – confident of using it to develop, share and capture ideas, and to perform well within a team.”

Deputy head Andrew Crick agrees: “We must ensure that, from day one of their employment, the students are skilled with popular software such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint and that using equipment such as interactive touchscreens is second nature. It’s what their employers expect.

“Thanks to Big Pad, our pupils are learning how to communicate and work together using technology that they will find in the workplace.”

Before inviting manufacturers to bid for the contract, Crick set out the school’s selection criteria. The interactive flat panel displays had to be tough enough to withstand the rigours of classroom use, bright enough to use in daylight, and compatible with the school’s current software. They also needed to be capable of linking to tablets, supportive of multi-touch fingerswipe gestures, representative of current business technology and easy enough for teachers to use with very little training.

Although Sharp’s Big Pad came out on top following an initial round of comparative testing, the school still wanted to fully test it in a live environment.

“We tested a Big Pad for seven weeks in a live classroom environment,” said Crick. “It was a big success. The feel of the board, the software, the versatility and ease of use, the contrast and brightness, its connectivity, the build quality – everything is well designed.

“Sharp were extremely helpful before, during and after the trial. They invested a lot of time working to understand our objectives, processes and selection criteria. And they were impressively quick to resolve any issues that we discovered.

That was important. If we hadn’t had that level of support I don’t think that we could have made the decision this academic year.”

As a result of the early support offered by Sharp, when the first 25 units were installed, the teachers were able to use them with confidence. A challenge was the fact that unlike businesses, which can temporarily close meeting rooms while new equipment is installed, schools need classrooms to be continuously available. Therefore Sharp sent in a team during the half-term break to work with the school.

“Sharp’s technicians worked collaboratively with the school’s ICT support and Premises teams. The whole installation took four days to complete with the school teams uninstalling the existing solution and making good. Sharp’s technicians were then extremely efficient in installing and testing the first 25 Big Pads,” explained Crick. “When the term resumed, everything was in place and ready to go.”

The feedback from the teachers and pupils on the Big Pads has highlighted the ease of use of the Big Pads, its compatibility with various software applications including RM Easiteach, as well as the responsiveness of the touch pens, the ability to use the whiteboards in bright daylight, and the easy annotation with automatic conversion of handwriting into a neat digital font.

Crick concluded: “Thanks to Big Pad, our pupils are learning how to communicate and work together using technology that they will find in the workplace. They are learning how to present their thoughts to an audience and they are learning how to capture and share ideas, linking their tablets to the Big Pad. But most of all, they are learning the life-skills which they’ll need for a successful career.”

Sharp interactive solutions