Stonyhurst College partners with Dynabook to bolster digital learning experience

Stonyhurst College is a co-educational Roman Catholic independent school in Lancashire, England. It is the largest Catholic boarding school in the UK, with 800 pupils ranging between the ages of 3 and 18 from over 40 countries.

Stonyhurst was looking for a new partner to equip students and teachers with laptops to bolster the everyday learning experience and empower students to work anywhere. Working with reseller AMC, the college was keen to trial high-spec touchscreen devices capable of managing heavy processing apps for in-class learning such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, and Sibelius. It also needed laptops with long lasting battery power, capable of powering these applications all day long. This was alongside withstanding every-day bumps and drops and being lightweight to carry for extended periods of time. Additionally, teachers found themselves spending large amounts of time marking work and hoped implementing school-wide laptop use would streamline this process and increase overall efficiency. On top of this criteria, the devices needed to be built and ready within just two months in time for the start of term in September.

Sourcing a large-scale order during a period where there were many constraints on components due to ongoing supply chain issues across the industry presented an extra challenge for Stonyhurst. Multiple providers were struggling to secure the required parts for the 750 units required by the desired deadline. Dynabook proved to be the perfect partner for Stonyhurst to appoint as its sole provider of devices through AMC, delivering the large order in time for the new school year thanks to Dynabook’s unique position of having its own factory. It was able to directly fulfil the demand for Stonyhurst on a ‘Build to Order’ (BTO) basis in just six weeks, critical to the success of the initial trial phase.

Together with AMC and Dynabook’s BTO service, Stonyhurst ordered 750 Portégé X30W-J units which were customised to meet each of its desired specifications. This differed for both students and staff, right down to the disc size, memory, and processor. On arrival, AMC oversaw the setup of the units ensuring all the devices were ready for use with the correct applications and security software straight out of the box.

One of the biggest priorities for the college was long lasting devices to support students constantly on the move with no charger in sight. The Portégé X30W-J has proved unbeatable in this area, with the battery life identified by students as a key benefit of the devices. Students can comfortably run heavy-duty applications all day without worrying about where the next charge point is. When they do need to charge-up, the ultra-fast charging capability means it’s back and ready for another day within one hour of plugging it in.

Dynabook’s hands-on approach alongside AMC throughout the entire process, including visits to the college, ensured that Stonyhurst was kept up to date with the progress of the devices and its requirements were perfectly met and implemented into everyday school life seamlessly. From specification, it took just six weeks for all units to be successfully delivered, each of which was set-up and ready for students to simply switch on and use. Every student that required a laptop had a device ready to go, right in time for the beginning of term. AMC also supplied suitable laptop lockers within the college, providing additional peace-of-mind around the security of the devices.

Following the success of the Portégé X30W-J, Stonyhurst has placed a further order for 300 additional Portégé and Tecra laptops to ensure the rest of its staff are using the very best devices and are empowered in their everyday work. Now every pupil and employee at Stonyhurst is using a Dynabook laptop across the college.

Gareth Entwhistle, Director of IT Operations at Stonyhurst, said “Technology has revolutionised the education sector, making it increasingly clear that we needed to empower students with their own devices. However, ensuring these delivered on our specific requirements in the time needed was critical. Dynabook was great from the off, able to balance all our specifications while also providing quick and considered customer service. A year since its implementation, the 1:1 device scheme has delivered impressive improvements to the in-class learning experience for both students and teachers. For example, teachers are now able to provide verbal feedback to every pupil via voice notes on the devices – a personalised and streamlined experience that would never have been possible before. With the strength and reliability of the technology we’ve seen first-hand, we can trust it to deliver for whatever our students and staff require.”

Dawn Henderson, Education Sales Lead at Dynabook Europe, said, “It’s been incredibly rewarding to see the success of Dynabook’s partnership with Stonyhurst College. Our BTO service gave us the flexibility and timelines we needed to provide Stonyhurst with the exact devices they needed and ensure both students and teacher had the right features to support and thrive day-to-day. We are delighted that Stonyhurst is extending its partnership with Dynabook and are looking forward to helping the college continue to benefit from technology in education in the future.”

Nick Bonnett, Technical Director at AMC, said, “The execution of this project with Dynabook and Stonyhurst College has exemplified the outstanding outcomes we can deliver when faced with close deadlines and supply chain issues. It’s been great to bring together our partnerships with both organisations to help Stonyhurst deliver a successful school-wide implementation of Dynabook’s market-leading devices.”





This year, children across the country were invited to answer big, burning questions about their perception of the world. The Dreamachine Schools programme, for students aged 7 – 11, encouraged them to delve deep inside their minds and stimulate their wildest imaginations.

Dreamachine asked questions aimed to evoke a sense of discovery and curiosity about others, and for students to discover how others feel and experience the world. Students thought about what really matters to them and what they’d choose to find out about others. What teachers discovered was a fascinating glimpse into their unique world.  

Launched during the summer term, primary school aged children across the country – both in school and at home – completed a series of mind-boggling challenges as part of Dreamachine’s Life’s Big Questions programme – an interactive quiz hosted by Martin Dougan (CBBC Newsround), exploring the power of the human mind. At the end of every exercise, they were asked a question that prompted them to think big (really big), about the world around them and their connections with others. It gave children the opportunity to voice their opinions, unlock their imaginations and reveal what is important to them.  

Enabling children to express themselves supports the development of a stronger sense of self. It is a view shared by Mr Dowell, a class teacher at Chesterton Primary School in Cambridge: “Offering, week after week, the big questions to the children has been a great and creative experience. I have managed to explore their interests further and put answers to many questions they asked. Learning about how the brain works and how different we see the world has raised their empathy and understanding around others.” 

Life’s Big Questions is a unique opportunity for children to learn more about the senses. Remember #TheDress? In 2015, we were all furiously debating the colour of the Roman Originals dress. Did you see a blue and black stripe dress, blue and brown or gold and white outfit? Life’s Big Questions takes children on a similar journey of knowledge and curiosity.

Professor Anil Seth who led the scientific elements of the Dreamachine programme, explained:
“We explored a variety of questions about how we perceive the world, how our experiences differ from one another, and we questioned whether the world is always as it appears to be. We looked at a variety of visual illusions which allowed children to experience the power of their own minds directly.” 

Teachers began the challenge with a straightforward question: if you could see anything in the world, what would it be? Some of the most captivating answers were those where imaginations had flourished; where children described things that are not possible or likely, at least at present: from reading people’s minds to being able to see through objects, from seeing money fall from the sky to seeing a chicken in space. Children touched upon the more philosophical topics, too, such as seeing people differently or seeing oneself as a baby.  

The activities conclude with children divulging what big questions they would ask the world. Mrs Duddridge, a year five teacher at Severn Primary, remarked: “My favourite activity was the children discussing the questions they would ask … it was so thought provoking. They came up with really wonderful questions that made me think that I would like to incorporate this with my other lessons.” 

Ellie asked If you could only keep one thing on the planet, what would it be?

Abdul wanted to know if new languages were still being invented. 

And Aurora wanted to know why we were all different. 

Children asked lots of questions about football and food, but also nature, animals and pets. There have been questions about space and time, questioning the unknown, and reflecting on what possibilities might be beyond our knowledge of humanity. And as a possible reflection on our society, there have been lots of references to having money

‘Does money buy happiness?’ but equally, some are clearly thinking about the differences between human life – why are we different, how are we different?

Philosopher Scott Hershovitz, recently remarked: “Every child is a natural philosopher. They’re puzzled by the world, and they try to puzzle it out.” What has been abundantly clear is that by exploring the power of the brain, Life’s Big Questions has ignited curiosity and imagination in the minds of children across the country about the world and themselves.  

For more information about Dreamachine’s Life’s Big Questions programme and to involve your class or child at home, please visit    

Life’s Big Questions was developed in partnership with A New Direction, We The Curious, Professor Anil Seth, Neuroscientist at University of Sussex and Professor of Philosophy, Fiona Macpherson from University of Glasgow.

​Dreamachine Schools is a major UK wide free education programme, developed by A New Direction in partnership with the British Science Association and UNICEF UK, and commissioned as part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK.


For more information

To find out more about Life’s Big Questions, please visit and to explore what children thought about Life’s Big Questions, please visit

Acer & Google for Education: Striving to Support Digital Transformation.

Ashlyns secondary school, draws on a rich heritage and character focused on providing the best and latest technology to support 1399 students to excel during their academic journey. Ashlyns’ EdTech journey began several years ago. The idea was to integrate cloud-based solutions investing in a new ESXI cluster and high-density wireless to support a 1-2-1 learning model. For such a long-term commitment to change and transition, Ashlyns decided to rely on Acer and Google.





Continuously upgrading. 

The school’s principle intention was ‘to work with the best technology available on the market to allow students explore and develop their IT and the way in which that is used in their education’ [1]. Thus, throughout the years, the school developed a strong relationship with Acer and Google having the key advantage to be able to easily upgrade through the academic progress. Such choice was supported by Ben Marks – the school’s network manager and teacher of computing – who affirmed could count on an exceptional IT support and a quick responsiveness service.

The latest upgrade made was to Google Education Workspace Plus, which allows to provide a more tailored education to pupils because of easy management tools. In fact, technicians can centrally deploy policy changes, not only lowering response times and overheads, but also easing teachers’ work making sure their students can open up their ready-to-go Chromebooks with all apps and extensions required. As a result, children’s performance and quality of work was tremendous.

Ashlyns School case: more Chromebooks than students.

The school always wanted to ensure that every single child did have a device. Luckily, during the pandemic, Ashlyns was well-prepared for the switch to remote learning. As a matter of fact, each enrolled student was given a Chromebook for independent and distanced study accessing all materials needed via Google Classroom. When students returned to classroom-based learning, the school found itself with more Chromebooks than students.

This year Ashlyns has chosen a more sustainable option: the Acer Chromebook 512. Indeed, this device is built using 17% post-consumer recycled plastics and is equipped with on OceanGlass touchpad made entirely of ocean-bound plastic. Moreover, Acer Chromebooks consume up to 46% less energy than comparable devices, being designed with a sustainable mind.

Pupils and teachers have been really appreciating the large 3:2 aspect ratio display that gives 18% more vertical space for working on assignments. They can login their devices in seconds and the long-lasting battery life means that they do not run out of it during their school day. Furthermore, children can receive instant feedback from teachers whenever they need some help with homework, they can add comments and smoothly collaborate with their classmates.

Product link:


Acer & Google ensuring outstanding academic results.

Chromebook integration boosted both teachers and students IT knowledge skills, enabling them to explore and develop tech abilities to deliver the best academic results. Surely, such experience will have a considerable positive impact on their future prospects, opening opportunities to succeed in the digital working world that is waiting for them.


Would you like to start your first digital transformation project? Contact your preferred reseller or our team. We will be happy to help you find the Acer solution that best fits your school needs. Reach out today:


 [1] Acer and Google for education, (2022). ‘Supporting the digital transformation of Ashlyns Secondary School’. London, UK.

Exact specifications, prices, and availability will vary by region. To learn more about availability, product specifications and prices in specific markets, please contact your nearest Acer office via

Amazon announce new virtual class tour dates after reaching over 20,000 students in their first year

Following last year’s hugely successful series of free Virtual Fulfilment Centre tours, Amazon has announced new tour dates aimed to educate students on the opportunities available to them in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers. The tours are part of Amazon Future Engineer, a purpose-led childhood-to-career programme built to inspire, educate and enable children and young adults from lower-income backgrounds to try computer science.


The Virtual Fulfilment Centre Tours, attended by over 20,000 students in 2021, are available to all primary and secondary schools across the UK, and are an engaging way to demonstrate the future world of work. Additionally, the free tours enable teachers to immerse their class in real-world learning without having to leave the classroom with the school trip style Virtual Fulfilment Centre tours from Amazon. 


On the tours, students will discover how computer science, state-of-the-art engineering and Amazon’s incredible employees all play a critical part in delivering customer orders every day. The tours provide a snapshot into the inner workings of Amazon Fulfilment Centres and cover key engineering concepts that demonstrate what a career in STEM could look like for them. Students are also exposed to fun facts about how packages get from the delivery room to their doorstep. Each tour lasts 45 minutes and is followed by a live 15-minute Q&A session with an Amazon employee. 


So that teachers can continue to embed this learning, they can also download a free resource-based toolkit which can be incorporated into any classroom activity before or after the virtual tour. It enables teachers to engage their students using interactive curriculum-linked slides, worksheets and videos, covering all the key concepts for your class, from learning outcomes to core computer science vocabulary.


Schools can book a Virtual Fulfilment Centre tour for free by visiting:


Amazon Future Engineer and the Virtual Fulfilment Centre school tours were established in response to research commissioned by Amazon in 2019 on the growing importance of STEM. The report found that the UK risks losing out on an estimated £33 billion a year due to a potential skill shortage. To meet annual labour demands, the country needs an additional 38,000 workers with computer science-related skills, including 21,000 computer science graduates. 


Teacher advocacy


Dennis Stansbury Alexa UK Country Manager, said: “Our Amazon Future Engineer programme has been specially designed to inspire future generations – especially those from all backgrounds – about a truly fulfilling career in STEM. We launched our Virtual Fulfilment Centre tours just 12 months ago to great success. We have now launched a new programme for 2022. New dates are announced mid-month, every month. Schools, please do consider signing up for one of our free tours. Together, we can make a difference.” 


The Virtual Fulfilment Centre tours are a great pre-summer break activity that allows teachers to provide students with a real world fun, engaging and relevant learning experience. Sign up today and book a tour for you and your class to get them excited about what a career in STEM looks like. Visit

Students and activists gather to mark Europe Day

Over 75 students from local schools were joined by people from the community to mark Europe Day in London yesterday (Monday 9 May 2022).


The young people were joined by representatives from the European Parliament, the EU Delegation in the UK, diplomats from all over Europe and beyond, friends and neighbours, as all came together to celebrate the European Year of the Youth with a special emphasis on showing solidarity with people in Ukraine.


Europe Day has been marked every year since 1964 to promote peace and unity in Europe. In 2022, the focus on youth was celebrated in the UK with a host of local schools being invited to London’s famed Europe House for a chance to experience the festivities in person, including a preview of the Gardens and Landscapes exhibition by young French artist Alexandre-Benjamin Navet, as well as the opportunity to meet the EU’s ambassador to the UK, João Vale de Almeida and Susanne Oberhauser, Head of the European Parliament’s Liaison Office in the UK, together with her whole team.


Further events took place across Europe, and in the UK a concert at St. John’s Smith Square included a performance by soloists of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Alongside standout pieces such as ‘Ode to Joy’ and a soloist performance of Olivier Messiaen’s “Abîme des oiseaux” from Quatuor pour la fin du temps, the orchestra also played the Ukrainian national anthem, highlighting solidarity with the people of. Susanne Oberhauser said: “Europe Day brings into stark focus the “raison d’être” of the European Union: UNITED IN PEACE. And as our President Roberta Metsola put it: Today we celebrate our values, today we stand with Ukraine.”


One of the young people taking part, secondary school student Clemmie Aargaard from London, gave a powerful speech, which really was the cornerstone of the European Year of Youth and Europe Day celebrations. To conclude her very moving and personal account of what it means to her to be European, she said: “When we think of ourselves as Europeans, or as citizens of a wider world, we are motivated to live alongside each other. Celebrating our differences as well as the many ties that bind us.”


The European Union Ambassador to the UK João Vale de Almeida said: “Europe is about bringing different people, languages and cultures together, to reach common goals, and based on shared values. United in diversity, as our motto says. It has not always been an easy job, nonetheless for the last 72 years we did it, we keep on doing it and we hope younger generations will continue carrying the torch for 72 more years at least. We are proud to see so many countries wanting to join us.”


The European Parliament Liaison Office is encouraging all young people throughout the UK who would like to take action on issues they care about such as global public health, the planet, security or human rights. Young people can visit the website and connect with others who share their enthusiasm for joint action for a better future.


The world’s first IB special autism school building opens in Cambridge

The world’s first International Baccalaureate (IB) special autism school building has officially opened its doors, enabling The Cavendish School to accept an additional 50 students this term in Years 3 – 7.  


The school, which started teaching in September 2021, was previously located in temporary accommodation at Girton Glebe Primary School with capacity for just 10 students. The new site means that more families, whose children’s needs cannot be catered for within current state provision in the county, will be able to access the specialist provision.


Stephanie Smith, Deputy Headteacher, said: “It is tremendously exciting to finally move into our new school building, especially after watching the progress of the construction work during the past 12 months. The state of the art building reflects our vision of providing a safe, nurturing and inclusive space for our students to access their learning; enabling us to deliver specialist education for autistic students in the county, where they have not been able to thrive in a mainstream school.”


Work on Cambridgeshire’s first state maintained special free school provision for young people with autism began in January 2021, and has been designed to provide optimal education environments for students with autism. Manufactured off-site in Northern Ireland by The McAvoy Group, the building is constructed from connected modules and offers sensory breakout rooms, a life skills room, a horticultural space and wider corridors to ensure that students do not feel claustrophobic when moving around the school site.


Drawing on the success of the co-located mainstream schools, Impington Village College and Impington International College, the school will provide opportunities for the students, through shared use of support staff and bespoke extra-curricular activities. At full capacity, the school will provide specialist provision for up to 100 autistic students, in Year 3 – 13.


This week, students and their families will familiarise themselves with their new building and meet their new teachers and support staff to ease the transition into their new academic environment. During their time at the school, students will pursue the IB programmes and accredited qualifications, alongside specific individual therapies or interventions, provided by dedicated onsite specialists in Occupational and Speech and Language Therapy. Each of the programmes allow teachers to personalise learning to the unique abilities of their students and the curriculum model allows for a wide range of activities including: Forest School, Lego-based therapy and life skills learning, to support the school’s mission of helping students develop into independent adults.


Lucy Scott, CEO of Eastern Learning Alliance – a multi-academy trust of which The Cavendish School is a member of – said: “I am delighted that our concept of a school that breaks down the educational barriers that autistic students face has finally become a reality after years of planning, research and preparation. Through the knowledge and expertise of team, The Cavendish School will deliver an exemplary education provision for students with Educational Health Care Plans to help them flourish and thrive as healthy, happy individuals.”


OKdo partners with LEGO® Education to retail enhanced STEAM education products

OKdo, trading brand of Electrocomponents plc (LSE: ECM), a global omni-channel provider of product and service solutions, has announced partnered with LEGO® Education as an authorised reseller of LEGO® Education products in the UK.

The partnership will see OKdo offer six LEGO® Education sets initially, all of which promote STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) learning through play to students of all ages. Some of the initial products in the range include:

  • The LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set, an easy-to-use STEAM learning tool to help introduce creative robotics to Year 7 to Year 9 students.
  • The LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Expansion Set, which makes it easy to bring students’ creative robotics ideas to life using intelligent hardware. This set combines with the SPIKE™ Prime Set and free SPIKE App to give over 10 hours of targeted STEAM learning.
  • The LEGO® Education BricQ Motion Essential Set, which introduces children aged 6+ to STEAM learning, with students able to build a robot using over 500 LEGO easy-build elements, mini-figures, gears and more.

The partnership further enhances OKdo’s STEAM education offering, following their recent research into all the benefits of bringing coding and computer science into the classroom. Their Broader Benefits of Learning to Code report found that nearly all (96%) UK primary and secondary school teachers surveyed reported seeing first-hand evidence that computer science lessons help children to develop other hard and soft skills in addition to IT abilities.

Demand for computer science talent is also skyrocketing in the UK’s booming tech sector, and OKdo’s ‘Computer Science in the Classroom’ report highlighted the importance of engaging more children in computer science while at school.

They analysed the numbers of students sitting computer science and computing courses at GCSE and undergraduate levels, and found that, while progress is being made – 79,964 students sat the GCSE Computing in 2021 compared to just 16,773 in 2014 – more work still needs to be done to engage more students in these areas at any early age, to ensure the industry can continue to grow.

Richard Curtin, SVP of Technology at OKdo, said: “Educating the next generation is at the heart of the OKdo mission. Our research has shown the importance of STEAM skills in the classroom, and we are excited and proud to have partnered with LEGO® Education as their sets will encourage more children to discover coding and help them develop confidence in STEAM learning, while also building valuable creative and critical thinking, and problem solving skills.”

For further information about the LEGO® Education products and resources available from OKdo, please visit:

Information about the complete STEM offering from OKdo is available at:

UK Parliament Education Centre awarded the Sandford Award for Heritage Education 2021

UK Parliament’s Education Centre has been awarded the Sandford Award for Heritage Education, as it prepares to welcome school groups back this autumn.


Opened in 2015, the Education Centre provides students with a unique learning experience, with each visit including a tour of the Palace of Westminster – a World Heritage Site. Sessions are fun and interactive and directly integrated with the UK’s four curriculums, tailored to the age and attainment of different age groups.


The Sandford Award celebrates and promotes high quality in heritage education, with more than 500 heritage sites across the UK and Ireland receiving the prestigious quality mark. The Awards focus on formal, curriculum-linked learning provision, although recognition is also made of informal learning such as family programmes and community outreach.


In awarding the prize, judges for the Sandford Award said:

‘The Parliament Education Centre leads pupils to knowledge of law making and democracy in the United Kingdom and their own place within it, through National curriculum related topics. Either using impressive trips around the magnificent parliamentary site with backup workshops or through detailed and stimulating online sessions, the skilled and professional education team engage with pupils of all ages and key stages. Talking to their own MP or investigating and debating such topics as the suffragettes, pupils learn to question and become involved. The programmes are a must for all young people who live in this country’.


This all comes as the Education Centre prepares to re-open its doors to schools from September. Due to unprecedented demand, bookings for the autumn term are now full, however schools are being encouraged to sign up to Parliament’s Education newsletter to hear about spring bookings.


School visits will be in line with current government guidelines to ensure the safety of all visitors. Online workshops will also continue to be delivered and can be booked via this link.


Amy Baxter, UK Parliament’s Head of Education and Engagement said:

‘I am delighted that the Education Centre has been awarded the Sandford Award for Heritage Education. This is a true testament to the hard work of the Education and Engagement team who have ensured that throughout the pandemic, sessions continued and we could deliver our dynamic programming to thousands of school children. We are looking forward to welcoming school groups back to Parliament and ensuring that young people from around the country get the unique experience of visiting the heart of British politics and learning more about our democracy.


Educational Facilities Optimised for Student Wellbeing, Performance and Sustainability

The concept of Smart buildings is being driven by a need for buildings to reduce carbon, reduce costs, and improve occupants’ environment, therefore allowing them to be more productive, prioritising their health and wellbeing. amBX have written a whitepaper on Smart buildings, and how we can expect to see more of them in the future, as our SmartCore technology enables smart buildings with an interoperable control platform. One of the key features is smart lighting control and monitoring, in particular circadian lighting/human-centric lighting.


Research published by Vodafone shows that currently, in the UK and EU, buildings are responsible for 36% of overall carbon emissions. There is much that can be done to improve this. Many believe it starts with schools; upgrading and retrofitting, involving students, and educating them about environmentally friendly solutions and how they can have a positive impact now and in the future. Added to the fact that school buildings are rapidly ageing and becoming increasingly inefficient, leading to unnecessary carbon emissions and high utility bills.


The Let’s Go Zero campaign states that 60% of the energy used by schools is wasted out-of-hours, and schools in England alone spend £600m per year on energy – the second-largest budget item after staff salaries. By installing Smart Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems that coordinate through the exchange of data to optimise each function’s efficiency also help create smarter buildings. Motion sensors also prevent wasteful cooling, heating and lighting of empty or low utilised spaces. In addition, predictive maintenance through smart technology can eliminate the wasteful replacement and breakdown of a building’s assets.


Smart IoT sensors that monitor electricity, gas and water can help Facility Managers identify areas where wastage occurs, and simple changes can be made, which amount to big savings. Combining these sensors with AI and machine learning, presents an opportunity for the building to begin to make these changes and decisions by itself, autonomously saving energy and water. 


Therefore, if schools are adopting new smart HVAC systems, it makes sense to also investigate the lighting of the schools. If there is a need to be smarter to reduce costs and emissions, then surely lighting that also benefits students’ health should be considered. In schools, the results of recent research into the effects of applying circadian lighting capabilities and principles show a marked difference in how this type of lighting can deliver compared to conventional lighting set-ups. 


Understanding the impact of light on human behaviour has advanced rapidly. It is now possible to use circadian lighting principles easily and cost-effectively. In human beings’ evolution, we have been exposed to artificial light for an extremely short amount of time. However, many of us now spend most of our day under artificial light and until very recently, this lighting has failed to reproduce the light experience for which we are “programmed”. 


As well as using lighting to help synchronise the human circadian cycle, it has been found that levels of illuminance are key to cognitive performance. A 2011 study in the Netherlands found that increasing illuminance levels in schools at certain times of day and changing the colour temperature of the lights indicated a positive influence on pupils’ concentration. Researchers found students were more alert and scored higher on their tests when they were in a classroom with 6500K lighting.


A further study conducted by Kazan State University in 2015 demonstrated the influence of different lighting types on visual performance. For example, there was a 20% improvement in the performance of the tasks speed during tests where the colour temperature was 5800K in comparison to fluorescent lighting. The number of errors also reduced hugely.


SmartCore technology from amBX helps to improve occupant health and wellbeing as it follows the Circadian rhythm, maintaining natural body clocks, by ensuring we receive the right amount, quality, colour, and intensity of light at the right times of the day. The Education sector is one of many currently adopting and embracing smart technology to achieve this and create an environment that allows students to thrive.


Bagheri and Hagighi Movahed predicts the global adoption rate of IoE (Internet of Everything) in education will rise from less than 5% in 2013 to 32% by 2022. Critical decisions about the carbon footprint of the built environment must be made if we are to achieve Government net zero carbon targets, and smart technology has a huge role to play in this.


University of Birmingham invests in largest ZEISS Digital Classroom in Europe

176 state-of-the-art ZEISS microscopes are partnered with the award winning Labscope teaching software


The University of Birmingham cemented its position as a pioneer of cutting-edge education in 2018 with the creation of the largest digital microscope classroom in Europe. The ZEISS Digital Classroom suite is part of the university’s Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL) and boasts a networked set of 176 ZEISS microscopes – a combination of the ZEISS Primotech and Stemi 305 models. These state-of-the-art microscopes, in combination with the award-winning Labscope teaching software, have transformed how teaching is done at Birmingham and raised the bar on what teachers and students can achieve together in the lab.


Transforming the Student Experience


We talked to three members of the CTL’s teaching staff for this case study, and the first thing we learned is that the ZEISS microscopes, with their intuitive design and high-definition built-in  cameras,  have radically transformed the student experience and boosted engagement. “The ZEISS Digital Classroom has profoundly changed the way we teach,” says Mrs Aruna Mistry, Dry Lab Manager for the CTL, who managed the microscope procurement process. “It’s the sheer interactivity of it that has changed everything: all the students can have an individual image on their device, and we teachers can pick up those images and instantly share them on the big screens. Alternatively, the lecturer can display whatever they are looking at on their teaching microscope on the students’ personal screens.”

In addition to looking through the microscope, students also use networked PCs to explore their slides, while the ZEISS Labscope. software enables them to take high-resolution photos and videos  of their samples, make accurate measurements, and much more. Students have embraced the system, says Mistry. “They like the  idea of everything being at their fingertips. The optics are so good, sometimes they just want to come in to look at their thin sections. And being able to take an image if they want to, straight away, because it is all connected… they just love it.”

Maximising teaching time


The state-of-the art ZEISS units are sleek, intuitive and “student- proof”, says Mistry: “In practical classes or exams, I can just take the dust cover off and it is ready to go. This changed my life. Before   the ZEISS installation, I’d have to give the equipment a quick service before we could start.”

Dr Alan Hastie, who teaches petrology and geochemistry at the university, is equally enthusiastic about how the linked microscopes of the ZEISS Digital Classroom maximise teaching time: “With the digital set up, with one click on one screen I can tell if 70 students have their microscopes set up correctly. I no longer have to check everyone individually, which can take an age.” Not only is time saved – teaching is accelerated. “I can pull images from individual students’ microscopes and instantly share them with the class to demonstrate very good examples to the other students. It makes teaching a lot easier and more streamlined.”


Boosting Exam Results


It not only feels like it is working better. The proof is in the pudding. “The ZEISS equipment allowed me to get my students to a satisfactory level faster than I could in previous years. And this was borne out by exam results,” says Hastie. This accelerated teaching is facilitated by ZEISS’s Labscope Teacher software, which puts the lecturer in charge of all the microscopes in the network while they move freely around the lab. Labscope Teacher also lets the lecturer define working groups, set group-specific tasks and implement all sorts of teamwork-boosting practices.


Digital Documentation and Feedback


No one on the teaching staff in the new CTL is yearning for the old days. Dr James Wheeley, a senior lecturer in sedimentary geology, remembers them all too well. “Before, we used very traditional microscope set ups, where students had to draw what they  looked  at.  One  of  our  top priorities for this new system was the capability to instantly capture, in high resolution, what the students were looking at, so that they could work with these images after the lab and use them for presentations. That was really important to us.”

The ZEISS Digital Classroom ecosystem also gives faculty the flexibility to feed back to students electronically on things they have imaged through the system. “We’ve been able to teach students how to properly present microscope images and annotate them up afterwards in software, which was difficult to do previously,” says Wheeley.


Preparing students for industry

Having students learn these modern working practices feeds into a central motivation for equipping the CTL with ZEISS systems in the first place. “The idea behind the CTL was that we are preparing our students for industry; that they acquire the skills they need here, so that when they start their careers they won’t need retraining,” says Mistry. “We wanted the equipment to be state-of-the-art, the lab to be state-of-the-art, the staff to be fully trained into what they are delivering. Buying the right type of microscopes was crucial.”

Wheeley agrees: “Everything the students are working with now is digital. This system allows them to present work to a professional standard, which is what will be required of them in their first jobs after university.”

Being one of the most advanced teaching labs in Europe, and indeed the world, inevitably makes the University of Birmingham particularly attractive to new students. Though, admittedly, this gold-standard status is not always fully appreciated. “Sometimes, new first-year students don’t realise quite how good they have it,” says Hastie. “At other universities, the equipment is – how do I put this diplomatically? – a wee bit antiquated. Our students come in fresh and get to use this fantastic equipment straight off. This is their normal. I’m in the privileged position to know that they have it very good indeed!”


The ZEISS Digital Classroom was part of a £45 million investment at the University of Birmingham, so naturally multiple suppliers were consulted. What was it that won over Mistry and her many colleagues? “The decision to buy took nearly two years and we really explored our options – we had workshops and demonstrations with many potential suppliers,” says Mistry. “Ultimately, the ZEISS system is the only one that could deliver what we said we wanted – we couldn’t ask for more. And   the ongoing support from ZEISS has been brilliant. Anything we asked, anything    we needed, they were there.”


To learn more about the ZEISS Digital Classroom, visit: