Of course, a few things remain the same. School administrators, for example, still expect the equipment they authorize for purchase to deliver quality, reliability and flexibility. Like mobile phones and laptop computers, many projectors on the market today deliver on those three attributes by being part of a connected and integrated network. The benefits are nearly endless and in many ways synonymous with the benefits of technology itself.
Projectors for Todays’ Classrooms
However, first, there are a couple of other factors to look at before you select a line of projectors for your campus.
The first is to consider the room in which the projector will be used. Like many of the subjects taught in them, today’s classrooms are more challenging. That means optional lenses are more important than ever.
As always, a standard lens is necessary to cover the variation of throw distances. An optional lens, however, will give you the ability to use long or short throw distances to navigate across ceilings where there are fire signs, sprinklers, AC ducts and other obstructions.
High Definition and Easier Connectivity
Another benchmark to consider is that the classroom is following the living room’s lead and transitioning to high definition. The quality of images made possible by high definition is particularly valuable in academic settings. For example, anyone who isn’t colorblind will recognize instantly if their school colors are off even slightly. It’ll also be appreciated by any of the classes in which visual detail is important, such as art history, anthropology, biology and more.
Easier connectivity is yet another benefit of selecting the right projector. If you want to cut down on multiple wires, insist on projectors that have an HD BaseT port which only require one Ethernet cable to run video, audio and control commands.
You’ll also save your school upwards of $400 if you select a projector with the receiver component built into the projector, not to mention the savings on additional wiring.
The Networked Projector
Investing in projectors that function as part of an integrated network will benefit your entire organization in numerous ways. For starters, each network-connected projector on your campus can be easily programmed to send an email alert to the administrator the second a projector has been disconnected. That’s a simple way to dramatically reduce – if not eliminate – the theft of projectors.
Closely related, the status of one or many network-connected projectors can be monitored from a single location, making it much more efficient to identify and resolve issues. This includes being able to monitor the lamp hours being used so that you will know exactly how much to budget.
When reactive and routine maintenance is necessary, a network-connected projector can send an email alert to the administrator. The ability to stay ahead of the repair curve improves your team’s performance in the eyes of the instructors and students who rely on the projectors for teaching and learning. And, increasing uptime of each projector on the network simultaneously increases the value of your investment.
The ability to function wirelessly is an important benefit you’ll realize if you select the right network-connected projector. Insist on a wireless option that will enable the instructor to connect to the projector from a laptop, iPad or Android device placed anywhere in the classroom. Also insist that the equipment you ultimately purchase enables a convenient and easy way for presenters to share content among multiple projectors.
Campus Notification System
The functionality made possible by network-connected projectors that gets the most attention is the ability to send notifications to all the networked projectors on campus.
Some projectors on the market allow administrators to take control centrally and display pre-stored images and messages from each network-connected projector. When used in conjunction with the scheduling function, notifications can be shown at preset times, transforming each screen into a virtual message board. This is helpful when conveying information about exam schedules, important academic deadlines and other non-emergency information.
The functionality is equally beneficial in more critical situations. The notification system can be used to send campus-wide announcements and other important updates in real time should your school experience an emergency.
Remember that there are a lot of devices out there. Make sure the projectors you select are compatible not only with Macs and PCs but that they can synch with the various resolutions, graphic cards and different kinds of notebooks. You probably already know that professors show up for class with a wide array of equipment so it’s important that the projectors include an extensive lookup table.
And finally, speaking of compatibility, do some quick research on the projector vendors you’re considering. Find out what kinds of features adapt to the education market. Seek out industry sources, publications and the manufacturer websites to identify the wider breadth of what these projectors can now do. As you know, education is complex, and becoming an expert doesn’t happen on a whim.