[Category: In Class]
Finding the Ideal Front-of-Classroom Interactive Display Pt.2
(Continued from Finding the Ideal Front-of-Classroom Interactive Display Pt. 1)
All interactive display technologies rely on embedded interactive software to deliver annotation (or “inking”) capabilities and other collaborative features. IWB makers such as SMART,Prometheanand Mimio have historically required annual licensing fees and restricted software use to their specific product. As the interactive display market evolved to include new technologies, many IWB manufacturers began to periodically tweak their licensing and usage requirements, however most continue to include licensing and usage restrictions. Competing technologies, on the other hand, are often free from such fees and restrictions. As such, in today’s market the specific capabilities offered by proprietary software have become an important differentiator among
technologies and manufacturers.
• Full HD 1080p
• Integrated system requiring display board and projector
• Require maintenance
• Additional costs for bulbs and filters
• Require image calibration
• Typically a static, ceiling mounted resource
• Usually require an annual software licensing fee
• Typical 3-year lifespan due to cost of new bulbs, increasing product failures
So Which Type of Interactive Display is Best?
Administrators and IT teams no longer question whether interactive display boards have a place in their schools’ classrooms, but how best to implement them. Each of the available technologies present relative advantages and limitations. The key to choosing the best fit for a given installation is to carefully evaluate the particular circumstances, including budget, content to be displayed, room size, audience, ambient light, and other environmental factors.
One of the primary advantages of the IWB is its familiarity. Many instructors have used an IWB in the past, are currently using one, know others who have used them or were exposed to them during their own teaching education. This familiarity can help shrink the learning curve and increase instructor comfort with the technology. However, as the frontrunner in the interactive
display market, newer technologies have been developed to address IWB weaknesses and offer added benefits.
Once the go-to interactive education technology, many schools are now faced with the need to replace IWBs that are nearing the end of their lifecycle. Not only do newer options deliver added advantages, outdated IWBs are often a significant cost burden, requiring ongoing and added maintenance, replacement parts and technician time. Loss of teaching time due to maintenance and recalibration is another significant negative impact.
Interactive Flat Panels
Since their introduction in 2012, large-format touchscreen LED displays (also known as interactive flat panels) have become a popular option for enabling front-of-room interactive classroom display. An all-in-one solution, this technology (marketed by ViewSonic as ViewBoard) offers numerous advantages over the traditional, projector-based interactive whiteboard as well as interactive projectors.
With no projector to maintain, IFPs reduce both costs and staff time related to calibration, replacing bulbs and cleaning filters. Class downtime is also minimized, with no unexpected bulb burn-outs or downtime waiting for bulbs to be replaced. IFPs often consume less energy and are significantly easier to install and service, with virtually no maintenance required. Finally, IFPs can be trolley mounted, enabling efficient resource sharing and making them a cost-conscious solution. IWBs and interactive projectors on the other hand are almost always a static, ceiling-mounted resource. Freedom from licensing fees is another important contribution to the TCO equation, with most IFP functionality
delivered with no licensing fees of any kind.
Interactive flat panel displays bring both added image clarity and greater enthusiasm to the classroom. Excitement and interest are generated by the appeal of the huge, iPad-like device, which functions as easy as a familiar tablet. Visibility, image quality, and brightness surpass that of most IWBs and projectors and the fan-free operation is quieter and less intrusive. As a projector-free solution, IFPs also eliminate the shadows cast when someone approaches a projector-based board and spares those at the front of the room from blinding projector lights. While short- and ultra-short throw projectors have come a long way in reducing shadows and glare, for some classroom environments these distractions can present a significant challenge and an IFP can be the ideal interactive solution.
Compatible with any laptop, iPad or other tablet, IFPs are simple to set up – in most cases instructors just connect the board and they’re ready to go. And while many IFPs include special styluses, most do not require them, working as easily and intuitively with a fingertip as an iPad or Smartphone.
Along with these benefits, IFPs can be expected to reliably function at least 2-3 times longer than a typical IWB or projector. The LED backlight in ViewSonic ViewBoards, for example, are rated to last for over 30,000 hours of average classroom use, for more than a decade of active use. The lifespan of an IWB depends on the useful life of its two components, the projector and the board. Instructors and education IT administrators typically report beginning to experience problems with IWBs around the 3-year mark and many plan for a 3-5 year useful life. Some occasionally report up to 7 or 8 years of useful life from their IWBs. There is, however, a great deal of agreement that after about 3 years the cost of new bulbs outweighs the cost of replacing a projector.
One important factor in the long life of LED displays is that they have no moving parts. By contrast, projectors rely on cooling by fans, which are particularly likely to fail after extended use, and whose lifespan is even shorter in dusty environments such as many classrooms. Here’s how one education IT company’s team of engineers classifies typical IWB useful life at varying ages (along with estimated cumulative replacement requirements at that time)
• 3 years – a high probability of the projector and board still operational to within the user’s requirements. (3x bulbs addl. replacement cost)
• 4 years – the projector is likely to fail. (3x bulbs in total + new projector replacement costs)
• 5 years – the IWB grid or motherboard is likely to start degrading requiring
frequent re-calibration. (4x bulbs in total + new projector replacement costs)
• 6 years – the IWB requires daily re-calibration. (5x bulbs in total + new projector replacement costs)
• 7 years –the IWB motherboard or grid is likely to fail. (6x bulbs + new projector replacement costs)
• 8 years – the projector fails again as does the IWB motherboard or grid or both. (7x bulbs + 2x new projector + new IWB replacement costs)
• 9 Years – does not usually occur
• Full HD 1080p / 4K resolution
• An all-in-one solution
• Wall or cart-mounted
• Easy installation
• Reduced maintenance
• No bulbs
• No filters or calibration
• Greater reliability
• Longer lifespan
• Lower energy consumption
• Eliminates shadows/glare
• Quiet, fan-free operation
• Typically do not require software licensing fees