LCD Projectors Make Chalkboards Obselete in High School Computer Lab

Chalkboards are not good at conveying dynamic information. So at two Illinois high schools, four Sharp LCD projectors have replaced the chalkboard -- and everyone is pleased. The units are used in several computer instruction classes, including sections for non-English-speaking and learning-disabled students, at the schools in Morton School District, Cicero, Illinois.

"It's one of the greatest teaching aids we have added during my 29-year career," said business education teacher Bob Walter. "Many students aren't auditory learners. With Sharp's projectors, I can demonstrate software that is difficult to describe, but easy to show. Students can look at the screen and duplicate what they see."

Computer instruction teachers previously attempted to draw renditions of the computer screen on a chalkboard. However, fundamentals like double-clicking, selecting text, activating menus and drag & drop were difficult to depict. Walter knew there had to be a better way.

"The projector is much more effective than the chalkboard," Walter said. "When I was writing at the board, I had to stay in front. Now, I use a student volunteer to operate the computer connected to the projector, while I am free to roam the classroom and assist students who need the most help."

Freshman Oscar Garza said the school's use of Sharp's projectors lets him learn more quickly and easily. "I don't get confused anymore," he said. "It's better to look at what's on the computer than what's on the chalkboard. It's easier to see."

The school district owns a pair of XG-E690U projectors and a pair of XG-E670U projectors, and plans to add additional units, Walter said. "All the teachers are falling in love with it, and you constantly have to check to see if it's in use before scheduling the lab," he said.

Each of Morton East High School's three computer labs is outfitted with desktop computers running Windows 3.1 for the students, with one computer in the center of the room connected to a Sharp projector. One unit is used in the computer-aided drafting lab at Morton West. A standard wall-hanging pull-down projector screen is used to display the image.

Students learn a wide variety of computer skills, including spreadsheets, word processing, computer assisted design and programming. Walter also uses the projector to go over homework assignments with his students. Instead of simply announcing the answers out loud, as he had done in the past, he projected the answers on the screen.

"If I need to illustrate a question, I easily switch to a word processor or spreadsheet, give a demonstration, and then switch back," he said.

The excellent display quality and high brightness of the SVGA resolution Sharp projectors was a major factor in the decision to use Sharp products, Walter said. "Even on a bright day or with the room lights on, the image is visible," he said. "And our classroom has 25 feet of windows on the sides."

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/1997 issue of THE Journal.