Gone are the days of a teacher scrawling history lessons or math problems on a blackboard while students frantically struggled to keep up. Now you will find students collaborating while standing together at a classroom display using the touch of a finger to drag and drop elements, make notes or share information. Classroom instruction has taken a new path with student, rather than teacher led instruction being the main focus and technology has guided this transition. But, with several options for front of classroom interactive displays, which one is best for your school?
Interactive White Boards (IWB)
Interactive White Boards debuted in 1991 and are still used in many classrooms today, though these older versions are now approaching the end of their life cycles. Interactive White Boards typically employ a short throw projector and a white board that is touch interactive. A computer is linked to the projector for content display. With several separate pieces to this type of display, a significant amount of maintenance is required especially in older units. Downtime can be expected due to replacement time for burnt out bulbs. The benefit of IWB’s is a smaller learning curve since many teachers have already used this technology for years.
Interactive Flat Panel Displays
These large format LED flat panels are interactive and house the software needed to facilitate collaboration and other interactive capabilities. Introduced in 2012, they offer a complete package in one component, with no additional hardware needed. Interactive Flat Panels do not require bulb changes nor do they have any moving parts, such as the cooling fans that projectors require, so maintenance will be less and lifespan will be longer. Brightness and image quality are also typically much better than any projector based display.
The versatility of projectors is a main advantage as they can project onto virtually any flat surface including existing whiteboards or a blank wall. The interactivity is built-in, so no matter where the projection falls, the interactivity is automatically part of the image. Students and teachers can annotate, write or draw with a wand, pen or using touch, directly onto the projected image. Most interactive projectors still require bulb changes, however Epson now offers an interactive laser projector. The BrightLink 1485Fi 1080p 3LCD Interactive Laser Display has a lifespan of up to 20,000 hours.
When selecting an interactive display for your institution, there are many factors that need to be considered including space, budget, and usage. Additionally, interactive displays include software that facilitate collaboration activities and functionality. It’s important to ensure those available are in line with your needs and goals.