About Northwood School
Northwood is a boarding school located in Lake Placid, NY. The school includes grades 9-12, plus a post graduate year and offers competitive academic and athletic programs. There are about 190 students from all around the United States (and the world!) that attend and about 85% of them live on campus. Northwood is a very well-rounded educational institution, that helps students gain the knowledge necessary to sculpt them for future success.
The Issue with Learning During a Pandemic
Due to COVID-19, sending students into schools the way it was done traditionally is no longer an option and most likely won’t be for some time. Whether it means going to fully remote learning, bringing students in and splitting up into smaller sizes, or doing a hybrid with half in person and half online, it’s still far from what was considered to be “normal”. The pandemic forced many institutions, such as Northwood, to reevaluate their previous teaching structures.
In Northwood’s case, they had to come up with a plan that would allow their students to receive a superior education, all while accommodating the structure of going fully online for classes. Northwood School was looking for the ability to provide the most interactive experience, both in and outside of the classroom. They also wanted to consolidate onto a single platform, instead of having separate conferencing, voice, and email platforms. For such a prestigious school, it was important they have a workflow solution that would allow both faculty and students to operate at their highest efficiency. The solution would need to grow with the school as the environment continues to expand and change. Usherwood wanted to make sure Northwood was provided with just that.
Solving Remote Learning through Technology
Usherwood’s mission was to provide Northwood a solution that would deliver the highest level of education to their students. Together, Usherwood and Northwood created a solution that would allow them to integrate all their communication methods into a single solution. Usherwood deployed the 12 room solutions in a single day. The deployment included 3 buildings on campus, as well as their Innovation Hub located in downtown Lake Placid. The overall solution included:
Implementation of Microsoft Office 365 for staff:
Microsoft Office O365 was chosen because it uses powerful cloud services, device management, and advanced security allowing students and faculty to communicate effortlessly, share documents, create meetings, and create virtual classrooms.
Migration from Skype to Microsoft Teams:
Teams is a powerful extension of Microsoft Office 365. Teams was implemented because it seamlessly integrated voice communication, video conferencing, and virtual classroom communication.
Email Migration from Google to Microsoft Office 365:
Switching from Google to Microsoft Office 365 email platform allowed all the applications that make up the solutions to have a more seamless integration.
Industry Leading Equipment:
Classrooms were outfitted with durable and versatile carts housing 65” displays, voice, and video equipment allowing for the application to create the virtual classroom. Staff were outfitted with a mix of headsets, compact speaker phones, handsets, and high-resolution video cameras so that they would be able to communicate seamlessly with other staff and students.
What did the implementation look like?
The application portion of the solution was configured prior to deployment. The Northwood’s staff was trained on how to use the solution and was encouraged to practice utilizing demo systems in the weeks prior to the solution going live. The hardware portion was preassembled and configured at Usherwood. The entire solution was then wrapped and readied for transport at Usherwood. To be sure that the delivery didn’t interfere with the students or staff working at Northwood, the solution was delivered based on room availability and class schedules.
Each solution was unwrapped, powered on, and tested to validate proper connectivity. Usherwood executed the deployment in a single day, to assure that Northwood was up and operational with it in no downtime. To assure that there were no surprises on day two, a Senior Applications Engineer and a Managed Solutions Specialist were onsite to verify that there were no issues and assist with any questions that may arise.
An Opportunity for Growth in the Education Space
Northwood will have the ability to communicate, hold online classrooms, and give assignments effortlessly. Students are even getting the opportunity to use and master an application that is heavily prevalent in the business world. Using Teams as a platform for school will prepare them for using it in their careers upon graduation. Northwood quickly adapted to their new environment in order to give their students the education they deserve, and for that we were so excited to have had the opportunity to work with them and become partners.
If there is anything positive to come of the pandemic, COVID-19 provided an opportunity for the world to reimagine education. As new problems arrived for schools, technology companies like Usherwood were able to develop new solutions to help navigate a new learning/teaching process. This was the first time Usherwood entered the classroom with a Microsoft Teams solution. However, Usherwood, like many institutions, found the need to create virtual classroom settings to solve the new challenges facing educators. This period has been a new journey for so many industries and as a technology company, it has been a rewarding experience working with other industries and reveal the opportunity for immense levels of innovative growth.