Old School AV
The last thing Chaminade High School needed, it seemed, was an upgrade of its AV technology. The numbers said it all: of its 1,600 students, 99.7 percent of them go on to attend college upon graduation, and the 2004 graduating class of 389 students garnered a total of 872 scholarships.
CHALLENGE: Catapult a highly successful but traditional private high school into the modern era of AV technology by facilitating the faculty's use of multimedia teaching tools.
SOLUTION: Install Internet access and an independently controlled AV system in each classroom that's simple and easy to use.
THE LAST THING Chaminade High School needed, it seemed, was an upgrade of its AV technology. The numbers said it all: of its 1,600 students, 99.7 percent of them go on to attend college upon graduation, and the 2004 graduating class of 389 students garnered a total of 872 scholarships.
A Mineola, NY-based private Catholic school founded in 1930, Chaminade High School requires its students — young men in grades 9 through 12 — to follow a rigorous academic program. Yet even with such outstanding results and an intelligent student body, teachers were constantly looking for ways to incorporate material from current events and resources outside the textbook. Recently, Chaminade High School turned toward AV technology to better address the needs of its teachers and students.
“Prior to the AV install, Chaminade was fairly traditional in its classroom setup,” says Brother Michael John McAward, former principal and current supervisor of technical services who oversees the school's television station, AV equipment, website, and also teaches Spanish. “It was a lecture-based format supplemented with films or filmstrips and some VHS videos. The teachers had to request a TV from the AV department and it was wheeled in on a cart. For our 45 classrooms, there were 15 to 20 carts available. There were also in-room overhead projectors and screens in each classroom.”
Fifteen years ago, McAward had first introduced the use of Microsoft PowerPoint and LCD projectors in the classroom to replace notes on an overhead projector. The school owned two extra LCD projectors, but other faculty members rarely used them. At that time, the school also had two computer labs that were open to the student body, but reduced it to one because there wasn't enough demand to justify both. Students had computers at home and most teachers feared computers would be more of a distraction in class. The lab's heaviest user was the math department faculty, which only used the lab for computer instruction, and math students followed up with assignments at home.
Academically, Chaminade is in step with other schools in its category. Technologically, the school had more of a “wait-and-see” attitude. “We don't choose technology for technology's sake,” McAward says. “For example, we wanted to observe the Internet's usefulness in academics before offering access to the students and faculty. With that governance, we moved cautiously into the technology area.”
Two years ago, there was a groundswell from the faculty for Internet access in the classrooms and the desire to use more PowerPoint in class. There was even enough interest to request a permanent setup in every room, which launched Chaminade's Smart Classroom Initiative to push the integration of AV technologies into every course and grade level in the school. The initiative also included providing teachers with access to high-speed Internet and DVD/VCR units.
McAward suggested replacing the traditional overhead projectors in each classroom with a Canon LCD projector and a video visualizer. McAward presented his idea to the school board and received the budget to install the system in 10 classrooms. Each room cost approximately $5,500 to equip, excluding labor.
To ease budget concerns, McAward enlisted the help of some students and completed the installation in several phases over the course of a year.