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When School Doors Closed, Cameras Created Interactive Student Experiences

Americano
DIRECTV - CS

When the American School of Durango in Mexico closed its doors during the Covid-19 pandemic, they partnered with ho1a innovación Metrocarrier to not only keep students and staff safe, but make distance learning barriers disappear with innovative uses of Avaya Collaboration Units for in-person and online instruction.

Challenge

To keep students and school staff safe, through an effective collaboration system that allows them to offer online classes, as if the students were in the classroom.

Value Created

The collaboration technology not only allowed the School to continue its classes without delay, but also constituted a tool of socialization and approach between in-person and online students.

SOLUTION

Avaya OneCloud UCaaS

27 CU360 Collaboration Units

American School of Durango is a school with a long tradition of almost seven decades in the state. Founded in 1954 with the idea of its founder establishing a bilingual educational institution, it was initially supported by the former Senator at the time, and then President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson.

School of Great Achievements

Bilingual system

José Antonio Pérez Solís, coordinator of the Department of Technology, tells how those beginnings were: “We started with kindergarten and the first years of primary school and over time all the grades were completed. Society was fascinated with the bilingual system because there was no other school of its kind in the state.

Later, the high-school section was opened up, with a very intensive program of studies brought from the United States, whose first generation was given a certificate of studies from that nation, the first to be granted outside the US.”

Our internet service provider, ho1a innovación MetroCarrier, sent us a notification with a video conference presenting the Avaya CU360 Collaboration Unit. I saw the characteristics, its ability, the vision angles, and cleared all my doubts, and I said to myself: “This is what we really need.”

-José Antonio Pérez Solís,
Technology Department Coordinator

Currently, the school has 640 students at all levels, ranging from preschool all the way to third year of high school. “We have the full range, what international systems call K12. The academic staff includes 75 teachers from the United States, Australia, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Taiwan and Mexico. Several graduates have made great contributions, including musicians, politicians and business people,” says Pérez Solís.

Staying Safe

Like so many schools around the world, American School of Durango was also forced by the pandemic to close its facilities. “When this all started, and we were faced with something we hadn't seen in quite some time, as an educational institution we were concerned about how to keep all our students safe and at the same time continue classes as if they were in person.

“It was up to us, the Technology Department, to find the best solution on the market. We started in mid-June 2020 to look for options starting from the most basic ones, which were simple webcams placed strategically in the room; for this, we did a 3D modeling to know where we could put the cameras,” recalls engineer Pérez Solís.

However, they soon realized that it was not the best solution, because there were echo gaps. They found noise on the recording tracks when they tried to use two or three microphones, as well as errors in how the teacher should be in front of the blackboard so the students could see it exactly as if they were still in the room.

America school

The Technology coordinator points out that this situation opened his eyes. “Our internet service provider, ho1a innovación MetroCarrier, sent us a notification with a video conference presenting the Avaya CU360 Collaboration Unit. I saw the characteristics, its ability, the vision angles, and cleared all my doubts, and I said to myself: “This is what we really need.”

ho1a innovación Metrocarrier brought the equipment, and together with the Department of Technology, set them up. They started the installation in mid2021, before the school year began. “We finished in time for the start of the school year, in mid-August. We purchased 27 Avaya CU360 Collaboration Units, one for each room, and we have an expansion plan to add more,” he says.

This equipment came to save us both in home education and in the progressive return to in-person classes. With this technology, we manage not to miss any class.

-José Antonio Pérez Solís,
Technology Department Coordinator

School of Great Achievements

Benchmark School

American School is on its way to Google certification, and found the ideal solution to what they were looking for in the Avaya Collaboration Units proposed by ho1a Innovación Metrocarrier. “The school is in a three- and four-year process to be the first school in the north to be verified by Google as a Benchmark School. Looking on Google Maps, we can’t find this type of school in Mexico,” he says.

The institutional accounts that the teachers already had for teaching their classes at home were linked to the equipment. Since they were already familiar with the applications, there was no problem in accepting this technology.

“This equipment came to save us both in home education and in the progressive return to in-person classes. With this technology, we manage not to miss any class. Students connect to their account, the teacher uses the Avaya Collaboration Units as the main camera, shows the board, does their thing and the student at home sees exactly that; if the student has questions, the system also allows it. Parents are very satisfied with our decision. We are congratulated for having found the way. I think we’re on the right track.”

The CU360 system stays

Today, all high-school students come in person. Other years have 25% online and 75% in-person classes. “Whether the student roll is present in full or not, the Avaya system will continue to work for class recordings, as it is quite important to show us how the teacher behaves with the students and vice versa. Also, students can watch the recordings at any time to clear any questions. That’s the inspiring reason behind collaboration equipment.

Additionally, this equipment will replace any computer or projector in the room. “Everything that has to do with the class, the teacher will do it from this equipment. We will be able to get rid of other computers that may be hindering both the desktops and the class. The replacement of any other device is on the way.”

Thus, they also obtained great savings of energy and capital that can be used for other things. The investment is worthwhile. “The investment was not a direct hit. The contract with ho1a innovación Metrocarrier is for three years, and the price of the units were distributed throughout that contract. It is a proprietary purchase, plus an extra investment of around 500,000 pesos for classroom adaptations.”

The technology can be metal and programs, but somehow it has a human side, and Avaya CU360 managed to give us a new approach, of keeping close to people, not nearby, not physically, but being able to talk to them.

-José Antonio Pérez Solís,
Technology Department Coordinator

Human Face Technology

“Students at home feel comfortable watching the class as if they were in the classroom,” says José Antonio Pérez. Elementary school children who returned to the classroom listen to their classmates online, don't feel isolated; and children at home don't feel separated from the group, or that they are losing contact with the class, the teacher, or their friends; they feel part of it without being there. The in-person students listen to them online as if they were by their side. Thus, they continue to feel like a single, complete group,” he says.

“We are completely fascinated with Avaya Collaboration Units and are now going to explore enterprise-class telecommunications between buildings, over long distances. We researched other companies in the market, but they are not up to the Avaya and ho1a innovación Metrocarrier equipment. I am convinced that they have what we need, for education as well as for other needs, such as telephony, networks and systems,” concludes José Antonio Pérez Solís.

More information

For more information, please call 800 713 80 81 or (55) 52 78 7700. Visit  www.avaya.com

About American School of Durango

It is a K-12 school, located in Durango, Mexico, focused on students seeking English-Spanish bilingual education. It was founded almost seven decades ago, in 1954, with the cooperation of the U.S. Department of Education's Schools Offices. The school focuses on providing a rigorous learning environment that fosters everyone’s high expectations. Currently, it has 640 students in all levels, ranging from preschool to third year of high school.

About ho1a innovación Metrocarrier

ho1a innovación and MetroCarrier 100% Mexican companies from Grupo Megacable with more than 30 years in the market, offering Telecommunications and Information Technology solutions to Companies, Public Sector, Corporations and Carriers; providing them with state-of-the-art telecommunications solutions, Information Technology, Data Center and Cloud. Local presence in more than 500 Mexican municipalities. We provide connectivity across more than 87,000 kilometers of our own network.