Classroom Display Options – A question of Pedagogy, Vision and Design?

The college is currently trying to establish classroom display priorities as we continue to improve technology integration into our teaching practices and facilities.

Teachers from the JC and SC who have participated in the National Secondary School Computer Fund – 1:1 working group identified “projectors” for classrooms as a priority for this funding at the end of last year. Now, as we are formulating our long term approach to the end goal of a 7-12 1:1 program, and we realise that the government is no longer going to provide ongoing funding for this initiative (netbooks / 1:1), we are able to finalise the resources available for this priority area.

In order to carry out a needs analysis in this area, we ask that all teachers who wish to have/change/add to the display capabilities in their classroom/s complete a brief survey (link at bottom of page) for each teaching space they think needs to be considered.

When completing this survey we need to consider the main activities and priorities for display options in YOUR classroom in the “21st Century”.  With increasing connectivity, bandwidth and individual student devices – the need to show movies to a whole class at the same time, assuming they are at that point in their learning is changing, but at times relevant.  Certainly “death by powerpoint” is something we (myself included) try to avoid.  AB tutor is also currently allowing us to share student work on displays and our own desktops on student devices.  You may also be choosing to do more group work in flexible spaces – instead of sitting in rows.  Additionally physical factors like sunlight, size of room and “on/off” functionality needs to be considered.  Please take these issues into account when deciding on your needs and preferred options.

To get the “ball rolling” so to speak – the survey seeks feedback on the three “most affordable” options – and a brief overview of each is provided below:

Option 1: Long Throw Projector with Speakers

Description: A projector mounted on the ceiling, with a pull down screen in front of the whiteboard.  Ideally two speakers are mounted on the wall, there is a VGA input cable to the teachers desk and an on/off switch on the wall next to the whiteboard (need to ensure this – caused trouble with remotes in the past).

Advantages include: Cheapest Option, brighter projectors now affordable/available, and provides largest display options.

Disadvantages include: most affected by sunlight, least flexible for moving around, remote/on/off issues.  If not mounted high enough and/or teacher likes to stand in front of the screen (to point out stuff physically – instead of with a mouse) can cause shadows on board or shine in teacher’s eyes.

Option 2: Short Throw Projector with Speakers

Description: A projector usually mounted above the whiteboard on a bracket the comes out horizontally about 30cm to 80cm from the wall, with a pull down screen in front of the whiteboard.  Ideally two speakers are mounted on the wall, there is a VGA input cable to the teachers desk. Sometimes the on/off switch on the wall next to the whiteboard (need to ensure this – caused trouble with remotes in the past) or sometimes the projector is low enough to just hit the power button. Have recently become more affordable (now only marginally more expensive than long throw)

Advantages include:  Still provides a large display area.  No shadows on the board or light in teacher’s eyes of standing in front of board. Less affected by sunlight / brighter rooms.

Disadvantages include: Very limited flexibility for moving around, remote/on/off likely to be an issues. Maintenance costs slightly more expensive.

OPTION 3: Large lcd display mounted above whiteboard

Description: A large LCD “TV” monitor (like the one in the S block corridor, JC library, SC Study centre…) mounted on the wall next to or above the whiteboard with a VGA input cable to the teachers desk. Will require a remote, or ability to reach the buttons on the unit to switch on and off. Can also be set up on a trolley, like the Polycomm unit with the camera on top at the Senior Campus.  Have recently become more affordable but still generally more expensive than projectors.

Advantages include:   Least affected by sunlight / brighter rooms – bright sharp image.  Good for videos, images, music…  Can be more flexible, especially when mounted on a trolley (damage, theft considerations would have to be taken into account).

Disadvantages include: Smallest display size – may be difficult to read PowerPoint slides from back of room.  Seems to be more inviting for vandalism/theft (not sure why).

The above are three suggested models.  Recently large touch screens and interactive whiteboards have come onto the market – but currently still cost at least twice as much as their non-interactive equivalents above.  The video below shows an interactive projector.

With a global trend towards greater student centred and collaborative learning integrated with ICT devices, flexible innovative learning spaces are increasing.  As the teacher becomes more of a guide and mentor, as opposed to the “sage on the stage” these spaces seem more appropriate and I certainly would love to teach in one.  If you are working towards this kind of set up, it may have implications for the device you choose (ie. flexibility – screen on trolley…)….

To complete the survey – click here.

Please share your thoughts, needs, and views in the comments below.

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