Mimio Global Press

The MetroWest Daily News
Framingham's Elementary Dunning School gets tech upgrade

by Scott O'Connell

FRAMINGHAM, MA - December 3, 2010 - Smiles filled the Dunning Elementary School cafeteria yesterday as teachers played with digital notepads, video-game-like control pads and an interactive white board.

Since the students had already left for the day, the faculty members had the new devices all to themselves.

"This takes learning to a whole new level," fourth-grade teacher Cheryl Pennie said. "Gone are the days of sitting behind the desk."

Pennie and fifth-grade teacher Jae Goodwin recently received complimentary classroom technology bundles from Mimio, a Cambridge-based company that designs interactive teaching products.

Pennie and Goodwin will now give their old Mimio products to other classrooms in the school.

Dunning Principal Kimberly Taylor said she hopes to start incorporating individual Mimio devices into the rest of the classrooms over the next year, making the school a pilot program for Mimio technology in the district.

"We're poised for flight," she said. "New things are happening every day in the classroom."

Mimio was founded 10 years ago by MIT students who received a grant to develop digital classroom technology.

"They wanted to design something that could capture teachers' notes from the white board, so students could listen instead of write," said Laurence Huntley, Mimio's general manager.

The device they invented launched a company that today sells educational products in more than 60 countries.

The technology suite received by Pennie and Goodwin includes Mimio's five main devices, including an updated model of the company's original digital note recorder, called the MimioCapture.

Other products in the bundle include MimioTeach, an interactive white board system; MimioVote, a remote handset for students; MimioView, an adjustable camera; and MimioPad, a digital writing tablet.

All of the products work together. The teacher, for example, can connect the MimioView with the MimioTeach to show video of a dissection in science class.

"The idea is, let's make teaching simple," Huntley said, "and don't let the technology get in the way."

Huntley said about 30 percent of schools in the U.S. have interactive board technology. Dunning got involved three years ago when Goodwin and Pennie asked Pennie's brother-in-law, who worked with Mimio's founders, how they could get their hands on the devices.

He hooked them up with a company representative, who agreed to give the teachers two pilot models.

Yesterday, Pennie and Goodwin raved about the technology.

"Our goal is to make Dunning a model of interactive white board technology for the whole district," Goodwin said.

Goodwin and Pennie took a nine-week training course offered by the company on their own to become Mimio masters. This summer, while attending the International Society for Technology in Education conference in Denver, they met with Huntley, who saw an opportunity for both sides.

"We have a policy of seeding," he said, "of putting our technology into schools so it can be seen, it can be used, and other teachers can get excited about it."

Yesterday, Huntley and company representatives officially presented the technology bundles to Goodwin and Pennie in front of their fellow teachers. The event featured an interactive demonstration that allowed teachers to sample the products and also enter a raffle to win their own devices.

"The real key is to get them into the hands of the teachers," Huntley said.

He commended Goodwin and Pennie's efforts to master the technology.

"They're whizzes at this," he said.

Taylor's short-term goal is to outfit Dunning's third- through fifth-grade classrooms with the MimioTeach and supply kindergarten through second grade with the company's mobile devices.

She plans to make the purchases using a combination of budgeted technology money and outside funds.

For now, Goodwin and Pennie can soak in the envy of their peers.

"I never expected we were going to come away with the whole system," Pennie said.