Classroom LED Interactive Displays
Large format touch screens are becoming a regular addition to the front of class these days. They are also a popular choice for businesses and look great in a meeting or board room setting.
As a long established supplier and installer of innovative AV equipment we have taken a keen interest in this technology as it has developed. It has taken a few years for it to filter down from the high end, high priced units first available to the more sensibly priced classroom friendly options we expertly install.
So how will you go about choosing what type of display is right for you and your working environment? My advice is to get some advice from a specialist installer. Not one of those large box shifting companies that badge themselves as education specialists. You will most likely end up speaking to an operator who will take your order and tell you the product you have chosen is the best thing since sliced bread and fit for purpose even though they have never been inside a classroom since they left school.
Too many companies will supply equipment without ever visiting you or your school to see if its going to be right. Itís never going to be as simple as hanging a flat screen on a wall and plugging it in. Most of the large format touch screens suitable for a school environment are quite heavy and you should have a survey to make sure that the fabric of the wall can handle the weight. You do not want one of these falling off the wall three months after itís installed. Aside from the cost of replacing a screen the health and safety implications don't bear thinking about. You will also need to know whether the electrics are situated in the right place, that all youíre cabling and connections will reach, work and that the planned screen will be able to be seen from every seat in the classroom.
A good company quoting for you will not charge for a survey and the opportunity to discuss your plans and requirements. (Get some GOOD advice.) It can be a bit of a mine field so please do your research. Don't use suppliers based miles away when you have great suppliers and installers closer to home who wont have a problem popping in when they are needed.
Most of you looking at upgrading to a touch screen will already be well acquainted with your IWB. (Interactive white board) You will also be trained and experienced in using the software that goes with it such as Smart Notebook or Promethean's Activinspire to plan lessons, save and share work with other staff and students. When buying your touch screen please take your software into account. You can not legally use your Smart or Promethean software with your new screen unless you have a license! Offsted will check eventually and if you are caught using unlicensed software on your shiny new touch screen your head teacher will ultimately be responsible for the infringement.
We have seen screens demonstrated by lots of manufactures and most come bundled with their own software which when demonstrated will seem easy to use and adequate for for all your planned tasks. Please be wary! Demonstrations are designed to make the software and the screen look good. If you have the time try using the bundled software in ways that will replicate classroom scenarios, the software might well be adequate for your needs. I will say from my own experience of using some of these tools, they lack the finally honed user interfaces, and much of the functionality that are provided with Smart Notebook and Promethean Activinspire. They also cant match the vast array of readily available online resources provided on both platforms.
We have worked closely with schools over the last 15 years and have installed thousands of displays and interactive whiteboards, we understand the importance of having great software that supports your teaching.
You can get your copy of licensed software from Cablers or directly from Smart or Promethean easily enough. Just remember it will add to the total cost of the screen you are purchasing unless its bundled with the screen you buy. So what may look a great deal initially might not look so great when you budget for your preferred essential software.
If youíre teaching you will most likely be used to one of Smartís or Promethean's interactive white board models, although we do still see a few Hitachi boards around. The smallest screen you will have on a IWB will be 64" and it will be in a 4 x 3 format which is non widescreen. Most of the IWB's we installed in 2013 were the larger sized 77" 3 x 4 format or 87" 16:9 wide format. It can be a little confusing but you need to keep this sizing in mind as you search out a touch screen suitable for your classroom.
Large format touch screens only display in a wide screen format which means that a 55" touch screen display which sounds quite large will in effect deliver icons on screen look much smaller than they would if displayed in a 4 x 3 format. The feed back we have received is that icons are not big enough for every child in the class to see comfortably. The bigger you can afford to go with your screen size the better the experience will be for users. Not so much the users at the front of the class interacting with the screen but certainly the children spread around the class following the lesson. We have seen quite a few of the early adopters of touch screens regret not waiting till they could afford a larger screen size. If you have a small class room then a 55" may be adequate.
Large format touch screens for schools need to be up to the job, they are going to be used day in day out. Make sure the one you buy is an "A" rated commercial display. These should be guaranteed for 50,000 plus hours use. Another option available on some screens which you may not have considered is low friction glass. You will notice it if you spend your days at the front of the class running your fingers across the screen. Another desirable option on a display that is in use all day long would be AG (anti-glare) glass on the touch panel. It will reduce eye fatigue to protect eyes of both teachers and students by significantly reducing reflection and glare on the screen.
Whatever screen option you choose you will benefit from low maintenance costs through low power consumption and eliminating the need for a projector takes with it those expensive lamp replacement charges.
Based on our knowledge of the products within the market place and from years of working with schools, local education authorities and IT support providers we make these recommendations for large format touch screens in education.
Contact Cablers for the latest offers and some good advice on all classroom multimedia solutions.
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