Q&A with Ivan Smyth,  Managing Director, Toomey Audio Visual, Dublin

Tell us about the school?

Scoil Aonghusa based in Tallaght caters for 189 boys and girls and is situated with a staff of 17 teachers near to Tymon park in Dublin. When the school first opened doors in 1975, Tallaght as then at its peak of rapid development and growth. In 2007 Principal Theresa Clarke took over and she decided it was time to move technology out of the computer room and into the everyday classroom. At that time a much needed grant permitted the installation of projectors and eBeams devices into each classroom and thus a journey into the integration of technology into everyday
pedagogy in Scoil Aonghusa had began.

Innovation and keeping pace is very much a part of this schools DNA but they resisted the temptation over the last few years to upgrade to interactive whiteboards with a view to leapfrogging to the next level of innovation in technology in the classroom.

What challenges did the school face?

With limited funds Theresa needed also to ensure she partnered with a company she could trust. The right technology was also crucial and the school did not want to expose itself to any ongoing increased costs sometimes associated with bringing new technology into a school.

Being aware of the advantages of the interactive whiteboard but also aware of some of the pitfalls the school set out to look at the options available.

Why did the school choose Clevertouch?

The ability for the Clevertouch to not require a laptop to run was welcome news for the school. It meant one less device to have to worry about and it would ensure the investment was always
available. to the teacher and students regardless of the status of the teacher’s laptop.

According to Theresa:

“From the start we had an idea we wanted screens as they don’t need to have bulbs replaced or filters cleaned. With the projectors we had to put up black plastic bin liners over the skylights for the kids to be able to see the image well. This is less than ideal for reading and writing as the classrooms then lacked natural light. We did look at another multimedia solution but we would still have needed to keep the projectors and supply new laptops. It would not have been as costly but the technology was not as relevant.

We really wanted to find the best solution we could for our funds and this was when we became interested in the Clevertouch. We really wanted something that was going to make the teaching a more pleasurable experience and the learning a more pleasurable experience.

After Ms Marie Gavigan, Deputy Principal and Ms Audrey Gahan, resource teacher reviewed and tested the Clevertouch in Citywest we decided the best thing to do was take a giant step rather than a few small steps and we looked at getting in eight screens at the one time for the school.”

Why did the school choose Toomey AV?

In the past many schools have selected the “cheapest” partner even though the company might be just set up or located miles away from the school. Scoil Aonghusa truly wanted to
ensure they picked a partner that was responsive to issues and a partner they knew they could trust with such a significant investment.

Toomey also have been supplying education for 45 years now in Ireland so it was obvious they would be around to supply the 5-year on-site warranty and support moving forward for the school.
Training and support from Toomey on the Clevertouch is carried out by David Kearney. David is a pioneer of Interactive technology in Ireland who spearheaded the Interactive Whiteboard Project in Drumcondra Education Centre in 2002.

What was the reaction from teachers and pupils?

“Everybody who helped us raise funds including the school board, the parents association, children and teachers were very excited to see this project become a reality. Just looking into the classrooms now there is really no comparison in the quality with what we have been using in the past.

I went into the classroom the other day and one of the kids said to me ‘all we need now are recliner chairs and popcorn’. I was in good form that day. As far as I’m concerned that’s the final approval.”

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