Blackboards were the thing in the 18oo’s invented by James Pillans headmaster of The Old High School in Edinburgh.
Whiteboards then took over 1980’s allowing ease of use and no more chalk dust (or dusters thrown down the classroom…).
Interactive whiteboards soon followed up saturating the market in the early 2000’s, now being replaced by interactive touchscreens, allowing more synergy with the computers in the classrooms, making interactive learning a real thing. They also negate the need for overhead projectors, or holding a laptop up at the front of the class to show what you have been doing.
So how do you choose what is best for your classroom?
Most school classrooms will work well with 65”, however, screens can go up to 98”. Depending on your need, you can opt for the larger screens, for example; in a an auditorium, or conference room, and then use the smaller sized screens within a class setting.
The screen needs to sit comfortably into the setting, allowing the children at the back of the class to clearly see text (use text of about 20pt when creating display content) whilst the ones at the front aren’t being mesmerised by large images and giant words.
To make the best choice, it is a good idea to get a demonstration in your classroom of your preferred screen size prior to purchase.
An important consideration, if you are using the screen in the foyer of your school, running welcome videos, with minimum actual physical interaction, then a smaller, high definition screen would be best, however, in the classroom, when you are going to be using it for writing, presenting and general interactive use, the board needs to be practical but nothing less than High Definition 1080P.
Lots of the interactive screens now come with 4K technology (Ultra High Definition) more content for 4K is available all the time however be aware that each 4k video requires a recommended 20Mbps internet speed so make sure your internet provision can handle the additional load.
Touchy Feely stuff…
The point of the interactive touchscreen is the ability to touch it, to use it, to have multiple pupils write on it (even at the same time), to link it to your IT products (laptops, tablets, desktops). How do you know if the screen you want can do what you need it to do? Do you need the children and the teacher to be able to swipe and draw with their finger tips or use a pen stylus to create a realistic writing environment or would a mixture of both be best? Screens such as Promethean ActivPanels allow a mixture of ways to interact; palm swiping, stylus, fingertips and so on, so that the teacher is able to use their own style and technique, and also allows for multiple pupil collaboration.
The benefits of looking into this part closely, is to ensure expectations of the teaching staff are met. For example, some screens may not have accurate multi-touch facilities, causing frustration and then a reduction in use. Ensure that children can use them for free-flow handwriting, with a stylus, but just as responsive if ticking boxes with a fingertip is all that is required. Tip: Look into screens that offer both infrared and in glass touch for multi-touch functionality.
Using a screen with anti-reflective glass is of great benefit, as it will reduce eye strain, reduce reflection and glare of both natural and indoor lighting.
Check your Inputs and Outputs…
What do you need to connect to your interactive touchscreen? Are you running a laptop, a static PC, or are you needing to download from the Cloud. Does your touchscreen have enough HDMI ports for your use (does your laptop have HDMI capability?)? How many USB ports do you need, do you need to be connected to the internet? If you use a visualiser, you are more than likely going to need a VGA connection. Talk through with your IT support team how you want to use the interactive touchscreen and ask them for recommendations so that you get the best solution for your needs.
Would you use your interactive touchscreen to play sound? Maybe teaching the classroom a song, or wanting to show an educational video. The sound reproduction is often overlooked, relying on the inbuilt speakers (if they are available) on the screen. Double check what is available, and if the sound can be heard around the classroom. If not, an external sound bar may be needed.
The Supporting Side…
Using a contracted IT support team such as Cablers, you know that if there are any problems with your interactive touchscreen, they are there ready to help. However, you will need to look at your warranty, and service agreements as well, to ensure you are covered for any eventuality. Making sure that you choose a service agreement that covers for malfunctions, provides a loan screen if the one you have is out of action, and can help re-install a new machine if the worst scenario happens.
Select a product with a 5 years support warranty, ensure that your investment is insured against manufacturer faults, also, a deinstallation/reinstallation warranty will make sure that the screen can be taken away and re-installed for you at no additional cost, if there is a malfunction.
For impartial and obligation free information, please drop us a line so that we can help in your decision-making process. Our next blog will look at our top interactive screens, which will hopefully give you all the information you need to update your classrooms to the best they can be.
Finally – Training, Training, Training.
After all the investment in time and money selecting the right screens for your school, it is vital that the personnel that are using the interactive touchscreens know how to use them effectively. A small amount of time spent training your staff, can reap great benefits in the use of the product and the uptake within lesson time.