Walk around almost any school and you will probably see plenty of projection-based whiteboards. What you might not see is enthusiastic teachers and students using them.
“A lot of installed models can be up to 15 years old. With only 80-inch images, long-throw projection and limited interactive capability they can really inhibit modern learning styles, which aim to create a truly immersive experience with lots of active participation, peer teaching and whole-class thinking.”
- Aron Bennett, Brand Manager for Projectors and LFD at Midwich
The current generation of projectors offer a much better classroom experience, Bennett and his team have found, with the biggest benefits coming from interactive capability, wireless collaboration and laser light sources.
“Ultra short throw (UST) projectors such as the Epson EB-695Wi allow shadow-free projection, enabling teachers to teach up close to the displayed content without obscuring the image,” says Bennett. “They can also create much bigger images, and in HD. Education and public sector warranties make this and many similar products a perfect, cost-effective option for almost every classroom.
“Some of the newest laser-based USTs, such as the Hitachi LPAW4001, enable image sizes of up to 130in, which solves many of the deficiencies of the older technology, particularly in a budget-conscious sector, as the new laser diodes mean no lamp replacement and can give five years of completely maintenance-free usage.”
The Hitachi and other new-generation USTs come with additional features such as multiple pen applications, enabling students to annotate content in real-time and allowing teachers and students to fully interact. Many projectors also feature optional finger touch, used primarily with oversized boards, such as those from SMIT, so that students can annotate directly on to a screen.
“Many projector manufacturers have also created effective wireless collaboration solutions,” says Bennett. “These range from simple, point-to-point wireless dongles that plug into a projector’s HDMI port, to fully collaborative, no-software solutions such as the BenQ Instashow.
“All-hardware solutions such as BenQ’s offer ‘instinctive collaboration’, which is extremely simple to set up and which teachers and students can use with real confidence. To start presenting a user simply clicks a button, and up to 16 users can be connected at once, making it perfect for classroom use.”
In special educational needs, too, the latest projection technology is ideal for creating the kind of multi-sensory environments that have been proven to assist learning and help keep students engaged.
“Whether they’re mobile, motion-activated table projection systems or interactive wall systems, projectors have proved to be a vital element in the ever-growing arena of interactive sensory environments,” says Bennett.
It is not just schools that are snapping up the latest projection technology. Higher education is also using it to enhance learning spaces.
At Loughborough University, Midwich reseller Pure AV kitted out four new teaching rooms and four lecture theatres with Panasonic PT-DZ780 projectors, TeamMate Lecterns, visualisers and lecture capture software to create a fully immersive environment, with learning spaces that enable full collaboration.
“Thanks to consultation with academics ahead of the design and installation, and paying attention to preferred teaching styles, this solution has yielded very positive results indeed,” says Midwich’s Aron Bennett.