Case Study: Toronto School Creates Hybrid Classrooms to Sustain Quality Education

Hybrid learning using Logitech video conferencing equipment

OVERVIEW

Based in Toronto, Canada, St. Michael’s College School is Ontario’s only independent Catholic school for young men. The school’s motto, “Teach me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge” exemplifies the focus of the faculty and administration on developing well-rounded students who serve their communities. 

With an enrollment of over 1,000 students in grades 7-12 and a full-time faculty of more than 80 educators, St. Michael's alumni include publicly-recognized business leaders, politicians, athletes, and media personalities. High academic standards are also supported by a broad global perspective. “Teaching isn’t just about what’s in the textbook,” says Kurt Charter, St. Michael’s Department Head for Modern Languages and Classics. “It’s the kids’ world to do with what they will, and they need to be interested and engaged not just in their classrooms but in their communities.”

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INDUSTRY
K-12 Education

LOCATION
Toronto, Ontario

SOLUTIONS
Logitech® Rally Plus
Logitech® Brio
Logitech®  Zone Wireless

SOFTWARE
Zoom

McLaren + Logitech

Meeting Room Products Story

CHALLENGE

“One of the challenges of a teacher is to keep the students engaged,” says Charter, “and if you don’t have the tools with which to do that, it becomes difficult because you lose them, and you lose them quickly. In this world they have so many things coming at them, you need to be technologically sound.” 

Student engagement became an even bigger challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic. The school adopted a hybrid learning model  where half of the students used Zoom to video conference into class while the other half attended in person. St. Mike’s wanted to ensure that students remained engaged, regardless of their location. “We wanted a video conferencing solution that feels natural to the student and to the teacher. We wanted to have the student at home looking at a screen and feel that they’re included in the classroom,” says Daniel Vasile, St. Michael’s IT Manager.

In addition to being seamless and easy to use, the video conferencing solution had to be viable long term. “We wanted to make sure that the hardware we installed will continue to be useful for years to come. Pandemic or not, video collaboration is definitely part of our future,” says Vasile

SOLUTION

“I naturally turned to Logitech when we were investigating conferencing systems,” says Vasile. “From keyboards to mice to headphones and personal web cameras, Logitech has never failed to deliver a quality product. When I saw Rally Plus, I knew that was what we needed to help our teachers keep students engaged.”

For the implementation, St. Charles engaged with DTS, a systems integrator based on Toronto. In less than two weeks, DTS installed the Rally Plus solution in 48 classrooms.

Rally Plus is a plug-and-play video conferencing solution that is compatible with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet. The solution includes ultra-HD cameras with automated pan, tilt, and zoom. Rally speakers and mic pods ensure quality sound so that everyone is heard.

“Teachers can ask a student in the classroom to read or a student on the video conference to read, and the experience remains engaging because of the microphones that the Rally system offers plus the great quality of the speaker system that is also connected to the Rally system,” says Vasile.

A camera and big screen TV are placed in the back of the classrooms. “When a teacher turns around from the whiteboard to speak to the class, in one look they can see students at their desks in the classroom, and students at home on the screen,” says Vasile.

RESULT

To use the system, teachers simply plug in one USB connector, and they have access to a camera, external microphone and external speakers. “Training was very easy because you plug it in, and it just works,” says Vasile. “With Logitech you can never go wrong. The hardware is robust, and it’s thoughtfully designed and executed.”

The faculty agrees. “The technology is absolutely seamless,” says Robert Fantilli, who teaches math.“I really appreciate being able to see my students’ faces. I don’t get that when they’re in the classroom wearing masks. When students are online, we get to see each other face-to-face, and it adds a personal touch to the classroom,” he says.

Charter also appreciates being able to see his students. “With half the students at home and half being in the classroom, the setup with Logitech and Zoom enables me to engage students, entertain them, and empower them. It’s been pretty effective,” says Charter. “I can see those a-ha moments, and they’re pretty precious.”

The Logitech solution has also proven valuable outside of school hours. “The technology opens up a whole new world of possibilities and opportunities in terms of what programming could look like, extracurricular or co-curricular programs -- clubs and activities -- which are a big part of the school life here and take on a different role in a virtual world,” says Lianne Castelino, director of marketing and brand strategy for St. Michael’s College School.

While many schools were putting clubs and activities on hold during the pandemic, St. Michael’s students continued to participate in extracurricular activities. One student, for example, started a politics club and invited former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to attend a virtual meeting, who accepted the invitation and participated virtually.  

“Having the Logitech technology in the classrooms propels the school forward in many ways,” says Castelino. “This innovative technology speaks to the school’s strategy and a global vision of technology moving forward.”

“Any organization that has yet to incorporate the technology hardware that Logitech brought into the classroom here at St. Michael’s is missing out on the ability to engage with students, make them feel that they’re connected to the classroom, connected to their teacher, and that their teacher is available to them and present. That, to me, is what teaching is all about.”

Robert Fantilli, faculty at St. Michael’s College School

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