Changing Classrooms into Wonder Rooms

According to Prendi Managing Director James Ingram, the content and concept behind an AV install is just as important as the hardware that drives it. Ingram has a double degree in Business and Law, and believes AV has a large role to play in education. Books and blackboards no longer make the grade.

“Technology isn’t going to go away,” he says.

“Children are exposed to it from a very young age. The education process has to adapt, it’s not immune to technology. Schools have to adapt to what students are already doing in their homes.”

Wonder Rooms and Multitaction screens

Bringing AV into the classroom can be much more than buying every child a tablet. AV can change the thought process behind learning, offering multiple entry points into a topic and an immersive experience guided by the student’s interests. A prime example of this approach is Prendi’s Wonder Room project at All Saints Anglican School on the Gold Coast.

“The school was looking for someone to build this ‘Wonder Room’ concept they had, an accumulation of technology and learning in a dedicated room,” Ingram says. For the school, the Wonder Room was a way to differentiate itself as a technology innovator and get students using new technology.

The Wonder Room contains multiple technologies, but the centrepiece is the seamless 1×5 Multitaction video wall. Multitaction screens are the next evolution in touchscreens. They have built-in infrared cameras and allow for unlimited points of touch, recognition of QR code markers directly through the screen, and seamless touch capability across any number of screens.

“The kids can go up and sift through information without being force-fed,” Ingram explains. “The information has no categories, no titles – it’s a bunch of circles you go through and you enter a rabbit hole of information.”

“In the Wonder Room you don’t know where you’re going on the journey. It’s a roundabout way to teach, because you can learn something that you wouldn’t usually look for.”

While the concept allows students to explore outside the boundaries of formal categories like ‘science’ or ‘literature’, teachers can also take control of Wonder
Room content to teach a specific topic.

“A teacher could teach a whole class on one photo, just by dissecting it and exploring the elements made available through the screens,” Ingram says.
The student museum – school lives on exhibit

Ingram says Prendi is about to sign off on another school project, also using the Multitaction screen system, but for a different purpose.

This time, a six-screen multi-touch set up will be used as a museum of each student’s school life and achievements across their primary and secondary education years.

“It will start with Grade 1,” Ingram explains. “Students will at all times be able to access writings and drawings on this wall. So, at the end of their 12 years of schooling, they’ll be able to go back and graphically see their development over the years.”

Apart from storing student texts and illustrations, 3D objects can also be scanned into the wall like a sculpture or a favourite pair of sneakers.

Out of the classroom and onto the street

Of course, the Wonder Room concept isn’t confined to education.

“A dream client for us is someone who wants to do something amazing on a large scale,” Ingram confesses.

“It could be a projection on to a building that people can interact with and play a game. Or a fully immersive room where multiple technologies have been integrated in a seamless way, from touch screens to projection, to virtual reality, all in the same space. That would be fantastic.”

Ingram says Prendi is able to build any screen-based installation and make it interact with other software. This ability to synthesise technical equipment and put it at the service of a clearly stated goal is key to Ingram’s AV ethos.

“We are pretty agnostic when it comes to hardware. We’ve specialised in these installations because our clients needed something a little bit different and unique. We pick and choose and build a solution based on content requirements.”

Consultation and strategy before innovation

Strategy and consultation is a big part of what Prendi does, Ingram says. It’s a requirement for success that trumps innovation for innovation’s sake.

“We want a plan for our clients that says, ‘Here’s why you are doing this, these are the people involved in it and here’s how you’re going to get a successful outcome’,” he says.

“We’re finding our clients are looking for ways to innovate, but they need to go back to basics. Our strategy is really finding out what the client wants.”

You can also see James as part of the Integrate Speaker Series sharing his insights into digital signage trends and engagement. View his sessions and purchases tickets here.