Making Smart Classrooms Smarter
It’s no secret that classrooms have come a long way since the days of the overhead projector.
Today, with the likes of interactive white boards and digital projectors, the very best classrooms are considered “smart” classrooms because of the way they are outfitted with technology. The technology in these classrooms enhances and enriches the educational process by making the educational process easier for teachers and by helping students understand subjects on their terms.
Still, not all smart classrooms are created equal; in the world of projection, recent technological advancements have quite literally revolutionized the type of images an educator can share.
As recently as five years ago, the standard was Liquid Crystal Display (LCD), which operated with a (costly and tough-to-install) metal halide lamp. Today, however, Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology is seen as more efficient because it delivers sharper images, is easier to operate, and costs less.
Within the subset of DLP devices, there are a number of issues to consider.
Here’s a quick rundown on what you should consider before buying your next digital projector.
Classrooms work best when they help educators bring lessons to life through interactivity. The most successful digital projection systems extend and amplify this interactivity, and make it affordable at a time when budgets are shrinking.
Here, academic technologists should seek solutions that integrate into existing setups seamlessly. In many cases, this means finding solutions that are easy to learn and easy to use.
The easier it is for technologists (or educators, for that matter) to set up and use a new digital projector, the less money a school district needs to spend on training to get users up to speed. Projectors that are easy to use also end up being easy to troubleshoot, which cuts down on expenditures for IT support, and empowers educators to fix their own problems, then get back to work.
At a time when many interactive whiteboards require special training, it’s also important to find technology that is software agnostic. Some digital projection systems even enable teachers and IT directors to plug them into existing devices and use them to teach right away.
The very best digital projection systems could be considered “non-invasive.” Some technologies (such as those from 3M) even come with special sensors that turn any old dry-erase board into an interactive whiteboard. Installation time with this hardware is typically less than two hours, and can be performed as routine maintenance.
Finally, school districts should purchase digital projectors that offer a host of options in terms of mounting (rods and brackets), connectivity (wireless, RCA and USB, to name a few) and peripherals (such as annotation tools). The more flexible a projector is, the better.
Just because a projector is digital doesn’t mean it will produce flawless images. From a technical perspective, two important factors in the quality of projected images are brightness and glare.
In terms of brightness, the very best projectors are those that offer parts designed to provide a bright beam of light over time. The brightest projectors are those rated at or above 2000 lumens, with 2400 lumens being tops.
Lamp life is another consideration, both from a practical perspective (i.e., you want lamps to last long) and to facilitate easy maintenance (i.e., fewer replacements mean fewer hours spent worrying about the device over time). Ideal lamp life exceeds 4,000 hours; this means customers shouldn’t have to change the lamp more than once a calendar year.
Purchasing a projector that minimizes or eliminates glare is also critical.
Some projectors require educators to position them at the back of the room, a reality that creates considerable glare for teachers to tolerate during a lecture. Other projectors are designed to sit closer to the front of the room, eliminating glare completely.
Finding a digital projector to satisfy all of these requirements is tricky, but the 3M™ Super Close Projection System™ SCP716 is one such tool. With 3M™ Vikuiti™ super-close projection technology, this product can project the same image from 40 inches as clearly as a conventional projector can from roughly ten feet away.
Along with this sophistication come added benefits:
- Maximized brightness
- Reduced glare
- Ease of maintenance
- High ROI
- Low TCO
- Ease of use
- Flexibility with connectivity and peripherals
What’s more, a number of folding wall-mount options provide added safety for districts investing in the 3M Super Close Projection System.
In short, the process of making smart classrooms smarter is a delicate art that requires thorough research and strategic investments. Technologists must opt for the devices that are going to enhance the learning process most effectively. How they capitalize on that technology is up to them.
To learn more visit: www.3m.com/scprojector
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