School uses audio visual technology to teach pupils a lesson

I find Digital Vision AV very responsive. A quick email and within a couple of days we’re meeting up to look at solutions to the problem.

Mark Thorpe, IT & Systems Manager, St Joan of Arc Catholic School

When St Joan of Arc Catholic School in Rickmansworth needed to upgrade its audio visual system, it faced challenges that will be familiar to many schools: budgetary constraints, a mix of legacy systems and the need for work to be carried out without any interruption to lessons.

Acting on a recommendation, the school turned to Hemel Hempstead-based audio visual specialists Digital Vision AV to bring its technology up-to-date.

The challenge

To bring St Joan of Arc School’s audio visual systems up-to-date within budget and without any disruption to lessons.

The solution

Digital Vision AV recommended a comprehensive solution that included:

A SMART® interactive white board (mix of analogue and digital) in every classroom

A six-speaker PA system, 3m projection screen and wireless microphones in the main hall

Digital signage at strategic points around the school

Upgraded WiFi network

An 80” screen in protective casing for the gym

The outcomes

No wastage – The system has been designed to support both older and newer technology in use throughout the school so existing equipment can continue to be used until the end of its natural lifespan.

Flexible - The main hall features technology that allows equipment to be connected to any display format, whether VGA, HDMI or the universal standard, DisplayPort™, quickly and easily.

High quality sound – Wireless microphones in the main hall enable presentations to be made from a laptop on stage while a roving presenter gives a clear commentary over the top. They are particularly useful for events where questions are taken from the floor as they allow the mic to be handed to a member of the audience.

Greater control – The upgraded WiFi network interfaces with the school’s Active Directory database which specifies access to the various platforms the school uses so it has more control over who sees what content.

Better communication – Important messages can be easily changed and instantly broadcast to staff and pupils.

Built-in redundancy – The second display screen in the gym gives the school a backup in the event its main hall is out of action for any reason.

Improved versatility – Installing a display screen in the gym makes the space more versatile, giving the school the ability to use it for assemblies and sitting exams.

Productivity levels maintained – Ad hoc support from Digital Vision AV ensures the technology is well-maintained and trouble-free. With technology running smoothly, teachers and support staff are freed to do their jobs effectively.

User-friendly – Ease of use by non-technicians was a key consideration in product choice.

We can’t simply buy AV equipment off-the-shelf as our unique school environment means everything needs to be tailored. I trust Digital Vision AV to come up with pragmatic, bespoke solutions for us

Mark Thorpe, IT & Systems Manager, St Joan of Arc Catholic School

A trusted partner

“The buildings we’re working with range from the old manor house dating from 1782 to temporary Portakabins being used while building work is taking place and ultra-modern classroom blocks,” explains Mark Thorpe. “We can’t simply buy AV equipment off-the-shelf as our unique school environment means everything needs to be tailored. I trust Digital Vision AV to come up with pragmatic bespoke solutions for us.”

St Joan of Arc Catholic School has entrusted its audio visual systems to Hemel Hempstead-based Digital Vision AV for more than a decade. The well-regarded Hertfordshire school aims to “create a thriving community for learning where students aspire to excel in all areas of their development: academic, spiritual, personal and moral.” The Rickmansworth school is housed on a grand Georgian estate built in 1728 consisting of the house and 11½ acres, with a stream running through the grounds. The house is famous for being the residence of novelist George Eliot at the time she was writing Daniel Deronda. Over the years, Paul Mayhew, founder and MD of Digital Vision AV, has built a strong working relationship with Mark Thorpe, IT & Systems Manager for the school, working with him to overcome its technology challenges. As St Joan of Arc’s IT systems have grown piecemeal over time, it has a mix of different technologies that need to be accommodated. However, installing modern technology in buildings of vastly differing ages on the estate is probably its biggest challenge.

“The buildings we’re working with range from the old manor house dating from 1782 to temporary Portakabins being used while building work is taking place and ultra-modern classroom blocks,” explains Mark Thorpe. “We can’t simply buy AV equipment off-the-shelf as our unique school environment means everything needs to be tailored. I trust Digital Vision AV to come up with pragmatic bespoke solutions for us.”

Bespoke solution

Understanding the school’s budgetary constraints, Digital Vision AV recommended a mix of SMART® boards, some using a projector to create a 77” image and others that use more expensive LED technology to create a 65” image. As the buildings were not purpose-built for a school, classrooms are not uniform sizes and some were too small – or had too low a ceiling – to accommodate a projector so those rooms were equipped with LED displays instead.

In another cost-saving measure, Digital Vision AV recommended a projector manufacturer that uses long-life lamps in the equipment to reduce the maintenance burden and bulb replacement costs.

Recognising that a craft room would, in all likelihood, be a dusty environment, for this setting Digital Vision recommended an LCD display rather than a projector, which would be prone to becoming clogged up.

When Mark Thorpe needed to upgrade the school’s first-generation WiFi to support its Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, he worked with Paul Mayhew to trial, and ultimately implement, a solution that gave it dramatically improved network coverage. This involved complex three-way conversations between the school, Digital Vision AV and Microsoft and Apple resellers to successfully resolve technical issues around network access points.

Walking in the client’s shoes

Ease of use was a key consideration for Digital Vision AV when evaluating equipment and suppliers. With all the demands placed on teachers today, they need stress-free technology that is intuitive to operate so they can focus on delivering engaging, inspiring lessons.

The school was understandably keen not to cause unnecessary disruption to students and teachers, so planned for the installation and set-up of the new equipment to be carried out by Digital Vision AV during a school holiday.

With St Joan of Arc relying heavily on its audio visual systems, any hiccups must be resolved quickly so Digital Vision AV provides a trouble-shooting service in the rare instances a problem occurs.

I find Digital Vision AV very responsive. A quick email and within a couple of days we’re meeting up to look at solutions to the problem,” comments Mark Thorpe. “It’s fair to say the school views the company as a reliable service provider and, personally, I value their honest, impartial advice.

Paul Mayhew remarks, “St Joan of Arc School is a beacon of excellence in the local area. We were honoured to be chosen to work with them all those years ago and are equally proud of our strong ongoing relationship, which is built on mutual respect and jointly striving to achieve common goals.

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Recent customer feedback

"It’s no exaggeration to say video conferencing and other technology solutions have enabled us to keep the business going and functioning effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic."
Peter Thorne, Head of Technology, Smart Energy GB