Monday, March 7, 2011

Will the classroom projector soon become obsolete?

In the world of Internet Connectable HDTVs, is the idea of a mounted projector going to go the way of the old overheads that teachers used to know and love? I can't help but to think that this may be the case. I would love to see my white projector screen replaced by a nice mounted 55" HDTV.

Our last tech 3 year tech plan included providing teachers with a tablet PC and a mounted wireless projector. It was very exciting to see all of these projectors being installed and teachers standing with their wireless tablet projecting to the screen.

Remember the good old days of an overhead projector and reusing acetate until we could no longer effectively clean off all of the vis a vis marker? I'm sure this made teaching seem to enter the technology age at the time. Then there was the innovation of the overhead with a document reader. Woah!!!! This meant that you could actually plop the text book right on the overhead and display content on the screen. Talk about advancements!

Next comes the overhead that we put on a cart and loaned out through the media center when needed. Another great advancement! We could connect the projector to our computer and share information from the computer screen on a large screen. We could show videos, etc. as long as the projector was connected via a VGA cable directly to the computer. A small (but huge) advancement was to begin mounting these from the ceiling and initially still being hardwired with a vga cable and then soon wireless. I remember when we replaced all of the projectors that still required a hard wired connection with wireless so that all classrooms had the capability. Don't get me wrong. I valued this advancement greatly and took full advantage. However, we began to see the limitations of our infastructure as people started streaming YouTube videos wirelessly (without much success). So, it often became necessary to revert back to a hard wired connection in order to display your desired presentation or video.

This brings me back to my initial thought. Wouldn't it be great to have a mounted flat panel TV in every classroom. The TV could be connected directly to the network via ethernet. This would help with infastructure issues. Internet connectable TVs would allow for certain access without the need for the computer. With the remote control, a teacher could show YouTube videos, access Netflix on demand, among many other widgets. There are also 'smart TVs' out now that would certainly offer much more. The TV inputs allow for HDMI, VGA, among others, so connecting the computer to the TV and using the TV in lieu of the projector is no problem. The HDMI point becomes even more important now that certain handhelds and tablets are providing HDMI out. the HDMI cable is light, so connecting your iPad 2 or similar HDMI tablet to the TV would be a breeze and allow for such great flexibility as you stand holding the light tablet as a teaching tool.

Prices are going down to a point that this solution is as reasonable (if not more reasonable) than projectors were when we purchased and installed them. Currently, the TV option is a bit more expensive (not terribly) than the projector, but I believe it offers so much more.

I teach a Video Game Design and Development course, so the idea of hooking our class Xbox to the HDTV is especially alluring,

**I don't know much about them, but there are Internet Connectable TVs and Smart TVs. Perhaps another post will focus on the Smart TVs. I can only imagine that they would provide even more flexibility in terms of incorporating content right from the TV without a computer or tablet.

Exciting stuff, no?

A few questions that I hope you will respond to in order to deepen the value of this conversation...
  • Have you experienced the implementation of a flat screen HDTV as an alternative to a projector in the classroom?
  • Can you think of advantages / disadvantages to the idea of moving from projectors to HDTVs?


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