Classroom Displays – Projector vs Screen Technology

When considering the best classroom display solution for the classrooms in your school, there are three main options:

  • A projector with an interactive whiteboard or a dry-wipe board
  • A non-interactive classroom display
  • A classroom interactive touchscreen

This video above is the best place to start. Importantly, it gives you the opportunity to see for yourself how classroom projector and screen technology compares; for teachers, for pupils, for teaching, learning, schools budgets and more. Following on from this, the blog reiterates the pros and cons of each option and suggests your next steps.

There are a number of key differences between these options, which are important to understand in order for you to make an informed choice as our company mission states.

Classroom Projector with interactive whiteboard/dry-wipe board

This has been the standard solution for classrooms for some time, and is usually the lowest cost option. This is a considerable advantage, as schools will often purchase solutions for multiple classrooms as a time, and this will keep the cost of such an approach down in the short-term.

However, the long-term is the more important consideration to make when purchasing technology. Whilst projectors are available for a slightly lower upfront cost, they require continued attention and purchasing. This is because as soon as you first turn on a projector, the bulb, and therefore the image quality, will begin to deteriorate. This means that a new bulb can be required every 2-3 years which, when purchasing for whole schools, is a high, often unbudgeted, cost. On top of this, due to factors such as dust in the filtration system, there will be a continuous level of degradation to the image quality; visibility of lesson content will decrease, curtains get closed and so on – as shown in our video here. The lifespan of the projector itself is therefore lower than the other options, meaning you would have to replace it sooner.

Beyond this, you are also getting a less pedagogically effective product when you purchase a projector. Most projectors are non-interactive, which limits the extent to which the teacher and their students can interact with the lesson content. Most do not have wifi meaning the teacher can only display what is plugged into the projector; usually their laptop.

Furthermore, the teacher pointing to things or writing on the board will cause shadowing, which prevents students from being able to see the content in full.

Approximate cost of a UST (ultra-short throw) projector, dry wipe board including installation and peripherals – £1,450 per classroom

Non-interactive classroom displays – like a commercial television

Looking now to non-interactive displays, these are a mid-range option in both price and efficacy. Most come with a five-year warranty, which is longer than some projectors providing better peace of mind. They have a higher brightness and image quality than projectors, which makes content easier to see and read.

On top of this, virtually all nowadays have an in-built android system which gives them greater functionality. They support web-browsing and casting from other devices, which allows teachers and students to stream content to the board. This can be ideal for high schools where students are less inclined to interact with the screen at the front of the classroom.

However, whilst superior to the projector, they are limited by the fact that they are non-interactive – teachers and students cannot touch the screen to control it. ‘Interactivity’ and collaboration is focussed on sharing the screens of other devices, or using the screen to display what’s shown on a laptop. Compared to our final option and although it still a good solution for many schools, it is still a limited system.

Approximate cost of an installed, wifi-enabled non-touch classroom display with on-board Android – £1,550

Classroom interactive touchscreen

Craig Fraser delivering lesson

An interactive touchscreen is the superior technology in that it displays contents brightly and clearly, has inbuilt wifi, an onboard PC and it can also be controlled using touch – either a finger or a pen. Most screens also have ‘gesture recognition’ meaning for example a finger will write and a fist will erase.

Touchscreens are also multi-touch, meaning multiple students can interact at the same time, and some have Pen ID – this differentiates between up to 6 different coloured pens; ideal so the teacher knows which student is making which notes, to highlight positive and negative, different types of number and so on.

This option has a higher upfront cost but provides the teachers and the learners with options. And with the training we provide, brings a range of benefits to support outstanding teaching and learning.

Approximate cost of an interactive touchscreen – £2,100. Lower, and higher, cost options are available.

Ultimately, the choice between these products depends on the context of your school. Whilst there is clearly one more premium product, we recognise that this may not be feasible for your budgets or may not be required in your subject area. Although we do provide leasing options and bulk-buy discounts, some schools may still not be able to make such an investment.

Any of these options is superior to a static whiteboard or simply talking at students, and our specialist technology consultants would be happy to assess your situation and discuss your best course of action.

The best place to start is a Classroom Healthcheck; this provides you with a hard-copy report and presentation on the extent your current technology supports outstanding teaching. It also makes recommendations on how and when you should consider upgrading your technology in each classroom.

A good alternative is a remote demonstration, so you can experience the options live online and discuss your unique circumstances with one of our EdTech Consultants.

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