Fareham College: Projecting an inspirational learning environment

Fareham College: Projecting an inspirational learning environment

Fareham College: Projecting an inspirational learning environment

Fareham College provides a range of courses, apprenticeships and higher education qualifications, for adults and students aged 16 to 18. As part of a £16 million transformation programme, the college has installed 54 Epson projectors to create an interactive, engaging and inspiring learning environment

Time to Change

Fareham College provides a range of technical, vocational and professional courses, apprenticeships and higher education qualifications, for students aged 16 to 18 and adults in the Fareham, Gosport and wider Solent area. The college is committed to providing an innovative and exceptional learning experience – a vision that’s reflected in its new and outstanding learning facilities.  The transformation of its main campus was recently completed following an investment of over £16 million. This has seen the opening of a new range of workshops for teaching construction trades, an advanced digital industries laboratory, and a fully integrated media, music and performing arts suite, brand new science labs and new art and graphics studios. The site also has a fine-dining restaurant, Avenue 141, and a working beauty salon, Salon 141, to complement tuition with real-life experience. This follows hot on the heels of the opening of the college’s new £12 million Centre of Excellence in Engineering, Manufacturing and Advanced Skills Training (CEMAST). CEMAST has advanced labs and workshops that replicate facilities in the aeronautical, automotive, marine, manufacturing and electrical engineering sectors that has already picked up numerous awards and accolades for its stunning design and its groundbreaking links with employers.

As part of these projects, the college wanted to install the best technology to support its teachers. Peter Marsh, the College’s appointed Project Director, who masterminded the entire programme of investment, said:

“It’s not often that you’ve the chance to spec a new building from scratch – but we had that with CEMAST,” says Peter Marsh. “Our brief was to help create an interactive, engaging and inspiring learning environment.”

Audit of teaching spaces

As part of this process Peter and the college’s in-house IT team spent time with teaching staff. They found that while the college had older interactive whiteboards in around a third of the old estate these were situated in the centre of the classrooms, but were often ignored in preference of less favourably situated standard whiteboards.

Says Peter Marsh: “The reason for this was that the equipment was from two different brands and was not universally provided in every teaching space.  In short, we had some expensive kit that was unused. We decided that we must standardise on a new presentation system across CEMAST and the main campus that allowed staff to embrace the new technology but still use their old trusted white board pens when they wanted to.”

Innovation suite for testing

The college created an innovation suite for its teaching staff. Here, interactive whiteboards and projectors from various brands were installed for a week at a time for testing. The standout performer was the Epson EB-1420Wi interactive ultra-short-throw projector.

From the teachers’ perspectives, the projector was selected for several key reasons: they valued the fact that large images could be presented from a very short distance with minimal shadows and glare; the projector was deemed to be highly intuitive; the colours were more vivid and realistic compared to competitors’ models; and it was easy to wirelessly connect students’ devices to the interactive board to discuss work. In fact, four device screens can be displayed on the board at once, while the interactive pens can be used to highlight and annotate the content. The Epson projector was also the preferred choice of the project team.

Comments Peter Marsh: “Not only were the key performance specs, such as the brightness of the Epson EB-1420Wi (at 3,300 lumens) better, the units were also more affordable. It looked a much neater and more aesthetically pleasing unit, and it was easy to install. All the cables and circuitry could easily fit into one run and, once we had one classroom signed off, our installers could simply ‘cut and paste’ the same install process across every classroom.”

In all, 54 projectors were installed: 21 in CEMAST and 33 in the main campus building.

An engaging learning experience

Teaching staff are embracing the projectors, which are used in all lessons, but as they utilise a standard whiteboard as the projection surface, this can also be used in a more traditional way with markers. Says Peter Marsh: “The fact that the whiteboard can be used without the projector meant that we could change the narrative from ‘you must use the projectors’ to ‘use whatever works best for you’. But now that the teachers know they have just one device to standardise on, they are all using the new kit”

At CEMAST, the screens are helping to create an engaging learning environment. While it is not easy for a group of 15 students to look into a car’s engine bay, teaching staff can now display a live feed through the projectors onto a screen for everyone to view and discuss the project. Away from CEMAST, the projectors are also proving popular. Music teachers are using the interactive pen to draw staves on lines of music and display videos of the arrangement being played by musicians. And, in art, the projectors are being used to display four students’ work at the same time to allow for critiquing.

 

Justin Bateman, Fine Art Lecturer and Course Leader at Fareham College, comments: “This is the best projector I’ve worked with – the split screen and annotation functions are really valuable to stimulate discussion and, critically, the colours are replicated with lifelike accuracy. Obviously this is really important when reviewing our work.”

Simple installation and maintenance

Hugh Symons, an Epson Authorised Partner, worked with Fareham College to help them test and learn about the Epson EB1420wi that they subsequently decided was the best solution for them. Installation of the units went smoothly and Chris Gittins, IT Manager, Fareham College, remarks: “Standardising on the one unit made it much easier to install the projectors. But I must also say that Hugh Symons did a great job. Whenever we had a slight problem they found a workaround and they put in a lot of hours to ensure that we delivered the install on schedule – I can’t speak highly enough of their work.”  

After installation Hugh Symons arranged for Fareham to be registered on the Epson Authorised Self Maintainer (ASM) programme. This will see its staff trained to triage and resolve common problems, and should a projector be faulty this can be swapped right away with a replacement unit held by the college on site. A simple process than allows the college to log the faulty unit, which is then collected, repaired and returned by Epson, should it be required at a later date. The college also has a five-year warranty agreement covering the projectors and lamps, bringing added peace of mind and a reassuring total cost of ownership. Hugh Symons will continue to support Fareham College over the coming years to make sure that they get the best from their investment in this technology. 

The best all-round solution

Concluding with an overall take on the installation of the units, Peter Marsh who, through Peter Marsh Consulting, works with a small team who advise other Education Clients on project design and delivery says: “At Fareham College we set out to build inspirational learning spaces and the projectors are very much part of that. They are performing well and helping to create an engaging learning experience. We’re seeing other benefits too: it’s great for students to see the college investing in learning technology and, by standardising on the Epson EB-1420Wi, teachers are converting their content to work on the projectors. Commercially, by buying in volume, we were able to get a competitive price for the projectors, while the maintenance programme and five year warranty ensures that running costs and downtime are kept to a minimum. This is a product and a partnership we are recommending to our other educational clients – it is the best solution, without breaking the bank, to help deliver great teaching and learning”