By Ellen Richards

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There are some days where you come to work and feel absolutely great and this is one of those days.  The reason for the great feeling is the opportunity to share with one of our earliest clients an important milestone in our partnership together. Today Melbourne Girls Grammar School (MGGS) and Schoolbox celebrate the 5th birthday of eVI, the school’s avatar that was created to represent the school’s 6th learning precinct, the virtual one.

With the employment of Mary-Lou O’Brien, as Director of eLearning, one of the first tasks assigned to her was the roll out of a learning management system (LMS). She was trying to find an LMS that would also incorporate a parent portal and inspired to try something new partnered with Alaress to build on and customise Schoolbox to meet the school’s specific needs.

Six years later and technology is embedded across all levels of education at MGGS which is seen as the tool that can shift the focus from teaching to learning. It is embedded in everything they do, through curriculum, in the design of learning spaces, the schools 1:1 Notebook Program from P –  6, the school’s bring your own device (BYOD) program from Year 7 – 12, the software and hardware and the cross-platform opportunities that are available and most importantly eVI – MGGS’s Schoolbox platform.

“A lot of the products that are used for eLearning in universities are geared for adult learners, but we wanted something that was appropriate for our early learning centre right through to Year 12, but could also be a parent portal,” O’Brien told The Educator in an interview earlier this year.

Mary-Lou wanted a name that the girls could relate to, so came up with the idea of using an avatar that would represent any MGGS girl within Schoolbox and something they could relate to. The LMS was christened eVI, a girls’ name and through a series of design phases, an avatar was designed to represent her.

eVI is any MGGS girl, she is relatable and memorable.  The ‘e’ represents the electronic portal, while the ‘v’ and ‘I’ stand for virtual innovation. In a recent MGGS case study video, the principal pointed out that the VI is the Roman numeral for 6 and that eVI – Schoolbox is the school’s sixth learning precinct.

MGGS innovative use of an avatar to represent its students and streamline communication within the school is a great example of how best to engage a school community in a virtual learning environment. eVI now forms an integral component of in-house communications at MGGS and gives 980 students and 280 staff access to their school’s resources online from any Internet connected device.

Five years since the creation of the program, eVI has become so deeply embedded in the day-to-day interactions of students, staff and parents that it is considered part of the school’s DNA.

Today eVI  celebrated her 5th birthday with a special assembly, the opportunity for eVI selfies, the whole school wearing their hair eVI style for the day and dancing. Schoolbox stepped in providing sweet treats and a cake for the staff, all eVI branded of course.