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Vancouver Public Schools Focuses on Projectors

Vancouver Public Schools District in Washington State has tapped a local technology levy to finish outfitting its schools with projectors, some in tandem with installation of interactive whiteboards, and others interactive themselves. Along with the deployment of the new classroom equipment, from Hitachi, the district has also offered basic and advanced training courses for teachers to show them how to use the technology and integrate it into their lesson plans.

"The secret to convincing a teacher to buy into the technology is by tying it into the curriculum," said Steve Stoll, instructional technology facilitator. "A lot of our teachers have been excited to adopt features like conferencing, sharing screens, and iPad compatibility. Veteran teachers are also seeing the value once they learn how to operate the projectors."

Stoll noted that one of the more popular features of the Hitachi projectors is the ability to digitally store recent lessons via a USB port that can work with a memory stick or other storage device.

Manager of Technology Operations Steve Bratt said he was impressed with the ease of installation. "The short-throw interactive projectors are mounted in close proximity to the wall, meaning that it's much more cost-effective and easier than installing a ceiling mount, which normally requires additional power," he said. "It also turns an existing whiteboard into an interactive board, which can still function as a normal dry-erase whiteboard on its own."

The district, which has about 22,700 students and 3,500 teachers and staff, is making a major push to standardize the use of wireless, 1-to-1 and digital resources in its classrooms. In April 2013 sixth graders at one school received new mobile tablets for use at school and home. This pilot is the start of a full rollout of mobile devices and laptops to students in grades 3-12 at the remaining schools in the district.

In February 2013 voters approved a six-year technology levy to cover the costs of putting in place mobile computing solutions, digital content, professional development, and infrastructure support. During the last year of technology levy funding, the district expects to review and refresh the devices and digital content.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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