When you think of a tech-savvy school district who provides their students with modern and powerful ed tech tools that prepare them with the skills needed in the digital age, you might typically think of a large organization in an urban metropolitan area. However, we here at MyVRSpot understand that technology is for everyone and not to be relegated to only the largest of school districts. Students everywhere deserve equal access to technologically engaging and relevant curriculum, and MyVRSpot strives to help educators do just that. As living proof of this concept, we spoke with three of our “small but mighty” customers. These are organizations who, despite their smaller size, are using MyVRSpot and technology as a whole to make sure each and every student is prepared for success. Read on to learn how Manitou Springs School District 14 in Colorado, Paris Community Unit School District 4 in Illinois, and Alderson Broaddus University in West Virginia have all used MyVRSpot to promote technological and educational growth and success within their organization.

Manitou Springs School District 14: Manitou Springs, Colorado

The quaint mountain village of Manitou Springs is located about 10 miles northwest of Colorado Springs, CO. Manitou Springs School District 14 serves approximately 1,450 students grades Pre-K through 12 with approximately 200 faculty and staff members across four schools. We spoke with Cat Olimb, the district’s Director of Technology, about their relationship with educational technology and MyVRSpot.

Benefits and Challenges of a Small Community 

When asked about the many pros and cons to working within a small community to provide quality education for all students, Cat had a lot of insight to offer. As for the unique challenges it can bring, she remarked on the difficulty of competing with nearby larger districts in neighboring Colorado Springs for resources and aid. Unfortunately, many school districts across America face this same issue when trying to provide the latest and greatest for their students. But that small, tight-knit community provides some unique benefits for Cat and her district as well. Upon joining the Manitou Springs School District team sixteen years ago, she was excited to bring with her a passion for technology in the classroom and the drive to always push things forward. Partly due to the smaller student population, she was able to push Manitou Springs to be one of the first school districts in the nation to be a 1:1 personal device district, providing an iPad for each student in the entire district. Additionally, Cat enjoyed the benefits of a smaller school district when it came time to move the district’s data storage to the cloud, due to the smaller amount of data to be migrated.

The Original Goal for MyVRSpot

With the Covid-19 pandemic just beginning, the district knew they needed a way to quickly transition to a completely new form of teaching. In March 2020, MyVRSpot entered the picture to help meet this need. Cat needed a safe and secure way for her teachers to present YouTube videos to their students without the distracting ads, comments, and suggested videos plastered across the page. Upon researching ways to do this, she came across the MyVRSpot platform. “It’s so easy to use, you just need to sit down and learn how to do it. I use MyVRSpot for all my YouTube videos now. I like that you can get away from the advertising, where you don’t get all that junk. And I think parents appreciate that too. I can easily embed it into my emails and it looks really nice.”

The Results

According to Cat, MyVRSpot has met and exceeded those goals even better than expected. Not only have teachers appreciated the safe YouTube uploading, but they’ve gone on to discover all the other amazing instructional tools now at their fingertips. Now that regular face-to-face instruction has resumed, Cat has been excited to see her staff and students continuing to grow in technology and using MyVRSpot to do so. What was once an answer to a pandemic-induced problem has now become an everyday tool. 

“I don’t like to go with vendors who sometimes offer too much. It’s overwhelming and you end up only using a small percentage of the product, but you’re paying for all of it. So sometimes it’s better to have smaller products that we can use everything they include, especially when it’s really easy to use.” Cat has also been impressed with the customer service since day one, citing that she can always reach someone to help troubleshoot any issues or questions very quickly. In the busy day of a technology director, there isn’t time to wait hours on end for an answer to a question. “MyVRSpot always picks up the phone or replies back to me right away. We really appreciate that.”

Paris Community Unit School District 4: Paris, Illinois

The rural community of Paris, Illinois sits in the heart of corn and soybean country, about 100 miles west of Indianapolis. Paris Community Unit School District 4, also known as Crestwood School, serves approximately 500 students grades Pre-K through 8 with approximately 55 faculty and staff members across two schools. We spoke with Lisa Huddlestun, Technology Specialist for the district, about the district’s journey with educational technology and MyVRSpot.

Benefits and Challenges of a Small Community 

Lisa is a retired teacher, having taught business and computer courses in a different small school district before transitioning into her current position as Technology Specialist at Crestwood. On the contrary, however, she completed her student teaching at a larger school district and was able to discern some notable pros and cons to both small and large environments. While the larger district was able to provide a bigger community of educators to help and support each other, it seems for Lisa that the advantages of a smaller district have outweighed that over the years. “The kids seem to get more one-on-one time with their teachers because the classes are smaller,” she noted. She also touted the advantage of teachers having more control over their own curriculum, and how educational experiences can be more easily custom-tailored to smaller groups of students.

The Original Goal for MyVRSpot

Crestwood’s original goal in using the MyVRSpot system was to provide a secure site where staff and students could create and store media. When it comes to students and technology, safety and security are of the utmost importance, which is why the district was so excited to find a platform where all student media could stay tightly controlled in-house. However, as many of our users do, Crestwood soon discovered that MyVRSpot has so much more to offer than just media storage and creation. With Covid approaching faster than anyone could’ve realized at the time, they decided in March of 2020 to start taking advantage of the Live Broadcasting solution as well. They needed a remote way to keep their tight-knit community as close as ever, and broadcasting events throughout the year was a perfect way to do that. 

The Results

MyVRSpot has now become an integral part of how staff and students across the district interact with technology. Live broadcasting of important events like awards ceremonies and athletic events ensure that all community members stay in-the-know regardless of their ability to attend in-person. “It was very easy to do,” Lisa said of the onboarding process. “Setting up the cameras and things like that was probably more time consuming than getting the live streaming going.” 

Not to mention, the media storage and creation tools continue to grow in popularity with the district’s teachers and students alike. This was made very apparent when it came time for the 2020 annual Learning Fair, where students present research projects to their parents, peers and teachers. Not being able to hold the event in person due to the pandemic, they held a Virtual Learning Fair where students presented their findings in MediaSpot projects, MyVRSpot’s drag-and-drop digital organizer tool. “It was a great opportunity for the kids because they still got to showcase what they learned in the school year.” Check out these great student examples:

Lisa’s main goal is for the students in Paris Community Unit School District 4 to enter their high school career and beyond with the knowledge and readiness to be leaders in technology. MyVRSpot is excited to be part of such an important endeavor, and we can’t wait to see all the amazing things the staff and students of Crestwood will continue to achieve!

Alderson Broaddus University: Philippi, West Virginia

While MyVRSpot caters primarily to K-12 education, higher education institutions like Alderson Broaddus University have discovered that the solid framework set forth by the platform can be adapted to a variety of environments. Nestled in the heart of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains in the small town of Philippi, West Virginia, Alderson Broaddus serves approximately 850 undergraduate and graduate students with approximately 100 faculty and staff members, and offers 40 different degree programs. We spoke with Nathan Fortney, Director of Instructional Design, about the role of technology and MyVRSpot in their institution.

Benefits and Challenges of a Small Community

Providing a world class higher education in a small rural environment certainly presents some unique benefits and challenges. According to Nathan, the resources that are available here can be different from the ones you’d find at a larger metropolitan university. Geography is also a challenge for Alderson Broaddus, as students who are off campus or more non-traditional sometimes struggle with resources such as internet infrastructure. 

However, the benefit of being a member of such a small community can be huge. Nathan likes to say that they are “small enough to get just about anything done.” Larger organizations tend to introduce more bureaucracy and red tape that smaller universities can more easily avoid. Additionally, Nathan has seen more cross-discipline relationships being formed among staff and students than you might find at a big school. “It’s not unusual to find folks from the English department having lunch with folks from the science department.” This type of collaboration across an entire campus is something really special to see and incredibly advantageous to students and faculty alike. 

The Original Goal for MyVRSpot

We originally met the Alderson Broaddus team at an education conference in West Virginia, where they came across our vendor booth. From that moment, Nathan says “it was a solution for a problem we didn’t know we had yet.” About a year before signing on with MyVRSpot, Alderson Broaddus initiated a campaign among their staff and students to begin utilizing video content and technology as a whole more than ever before. While this campaign was ultimately successful, it created a new problem. The university’s physical servers were no longer able to keep up with the incredible increase in demand on those resources, and Nathan knew they needed an alternative. Finding an affordable and approachable solution to get that media off their servers and into a cloud-based storage system was an incredible weight lifted off their tech team’s shoulders. “MyVRSpot’s smaller approach to how you operate aligns so well with what smaller institutions do naturally that it makes it a really good fit for everybody involved.”

From there, it was off to the races for our teams to collaborate on how best to adapt the K-12 driven framework to their higher education needs. Alderson Broaddus University is comprised of five smaller colleges: the College of Business; the College of Health, Science, Technology, and Mathematics; the College of Humanities, Education, and Social Sciences; the College of Medical Science; and the College of Adult and Distance Education. So we set up each of these colleges to be “schools” within the Alderson Broaddus University “district” in the MyVRSpot system. According to Nathan, this has worked out even better than anyone could have expected. Each college has a designated staff leader who helps their fellow faculty navigate the system and utilize it to its fullest potential. Educators are now creating more video content for their students than ever before, with no worries of where to store that content or running out of room on the servers.

When asked about their experience with the customer service team, Nathan had nothing but glowing reviews. “If there’s been any type of an issue or concern that we have, or if we need to tweak things a little bit to make it more adaptable to the solution that we need here, you guys have always been right on top of that. And you’re not gonna get that type of individualized service when you’re dealing with these super large mega corporations and the solutions that they offer.”

As you can see, it doesn’t take a huge school district or university to pull off huge results with MyVRSpot! Teachers and students alike, whether from large urban cities or small rural organizations, can benefit from the wide variety of tools available within the MyVRSpot platform. Whether you’re looking for secure web-based media storage, easy-to-use live broadcasting, or fun and engaging media creation tools, MyVRSpot has a solution to fit any organization at any budget. If you’re ready to see how you can take your ed tech game to the next level, contact us today!