Educators are always looking for better ways to introduce topics and present information to their students. In the early days of widespread public education, chalkboards were adopted as a convenient way to present ideas to groups both large and small, and to a large extent, this method has stood the test of time.
There have been many improvements since those days, both in presentation and in student note-taking. Innovations from ballpoint pens and notepads to computer labs, the internet, and virtual classrooms have all added to the learning experience.
Among the many improvements, one of the most impactful has been the use of projectors as an efficient way to display a large body of information quickly and easily to a group audience. The introduction of modern interactive projectors has been a significant step forward in the technology which has had a meaningful impact on pupil engagement.
But has the humble classroom projector seen its best days? With high-tech educational solutions coming thick and heavy upon us with the internet of things, virtual reality, and more, will it go the same way as chalk on slate, inkwells, and quill pens?
Today we take a look at the stark reality facing educators who use this technology daily and the companies that produce and maintain it.
A brief history of classroom projectors
It is not so long ago that a classroom projector usually meant an overhead projection device that displayed visuals onto a screen via transparencies. The transparencies displayed class notes, images, and other materials that were annotated on the fly in front of the class with a giant shadow hand appearing on the screen to do the editing.
As crazy as it sounds, the use of projectors in education goes back to the 1800s. The earliest incarnation of the projector was the ‘Magic Lantern’ of the late 19th century which used candles and lamp oil to project images from glass slides. These were used by magicians and entertainers as well as those giving lectures to audiences.
With advances in film technology in the 1920s filmstrip projectors began to play a more significant role in education. Variations of this technology were popular until the 1980s. The light source comes from within the device itself and projects images from film slides. A dial allowed the operator to bring the images into sharp focus.
In the 1960s the overhead projector made its appearance and provided a more interactive alternative to the traditional slide projector. Nevertheless, both technologies still have their uses and continue to be used side by side.
The 1980s then bring us into the modern era. Digital classroom projectors allow educators to integrate the advances of television and computer technology into the classroom. This new generation of projectors delivers content from a PC or other device directly onto the screen in real-time.
The benefits of projectors in the classroom
Projectors of all kinds share characteristics that still make them highly functional in the classroom compared to a simple whiteboard or chalkboard. Here are just some of the reasons why educators love this technology.
- Detailed reproduction of visuals
- Notes are prepared in advance versus writing them on a board
- Digital content can be updated and edited on the fly
- Content can be presented to large numbers of people at the same time
- Engaging, immersive content at your fingertips
- Easy to integrate with the latest technology for educational purposes
What are the options for modern classroom projectors?
The main manufacturers of modern projectors include companies like Epson, Optoma, BenQ, Crenova, GooDee, and even Amazon with its low-cost alternative, the Firestick. ( insert links but that open in new window so not to remove traffic)All of these solutions provide direct access to a computer with 1080p HD quality visuals, WiFi and Bluetooth, color contrast ratios into the thousands and tens of thousands, and lamps that last for thousands of projection hours.
The costs vary wildly from the super low-cost Firestick currently at well below a hundred dollars at time of writing, to high-end industrial strength long-life options such as the Optoma EH335 projector that bring us into the thousands of dollars.
All of these options have their pros and cons. Whatever one you decide to choose will still require a good-quality projection surface to make a difference in your classroom. If the screen that comes with the projector is substandard in any way, the specs on your brand-new device won’t count for very much at all.
The disadvantages of legacy classroom projector screen solutions
While projector technology continues to be a valuable tool in education, its value has always been subject to certain inherent limitations. As every teacher knows, a projector is only ever as good as the surface it displays on.
Here are some of the main downsides of traditional projector screens.
- Projector screens are limited in size
- Screens are not typically writable limiting you to the keyboard and mouse of a computer or to zero interactivity at all
- Presenters depend heavily on the source device, usually a computer
- Expensive screen solutions often deliver disappointing results
- Screens break and need to be replaced at a cos
- Installation can be costly and difficult
- Lighting issues due to poor screen placement
Smarter Surfaces classroom projector screen solutions
When we set out to solve the problems of legacy whiteboards we wanted to make the solution as simple, intuitive, and low-cost as possible. To solve all of the above problems our designers needed to think, quite literally, outside the box. They questioned what would happen if they turned an entire wall into a screen instead.
If you’ve ever been present at the set up of a projector you’ll know that the image tends to go all over the walls on the first try. Images and words are truncated and warped across uneven wall surfaces and borders with background colors blurring out relevant information.
Our product engineers speculated what would happen if the whole wall was evenly coated in a specialized whiteboard projector screen paint. When we tried it out the results were nothing short of spectacular and since then we’ve been further refining our products to give the best results possible.
Here are just some of the incredible advantages of trading in your legacy projector screen solutions and upgrading your presentation game while keeping your existing projection equipment.
- Expanded projection space to fill any surface no matter how large
- Life-size and larger-than-life images, video, text, and animation
- Writeable, erasable image surface
- Easy and inexpensive to install, simply apply paint
- Never breaks down, zero technical issues
- Magnetic surface option available
- Easily affix hard-copy images to the surface
- Keep your existing projection equipment
- Low-tech elegant solution
- Works with every brand of projector
- Anti-glare, hotspot-resistant surface
- Transforms the classroom into a bright, open, interactive space
- Simple to maintain, long-lasting
The bottom line is that while technology changes constantly, educators will always need to present information. We are a long way from replacing visual images on clean, even surfaces as the best medium for this exchange.
No matter how much or how little you spend on your projection equipment, you still need a surface to project onto, so why limit yourself to one small square of space?
Solutions for every classroom
We’ve talked a lot about paintable surface projection areas, but the possibilities don’t end there. While covering an entire wall from top to bottom is a terrific solution, sometimes the area you want to use is more evenly defined. Whiteboard Projection Wallpaper is an excellent way to put a durable surface in place.
If you plan to use only a small surface or a number of smaller surfaces such as desks and tables, Smart Self Adhesive Whiteboard Film can be a great option. Here are some of the great products you can choose from to customize any available surface to match your education needs. The option to add magnetic function in addition to the projection and whiteboard function is also an interesting tool in the modern classroom and has proven to be consistently popular in classrooms in recent times.
Smarter Surfaces Projector Screen Solutions
|Product Option||Best For|
|Smart Semi Matt Whiteboard Projector Screen Paint||Any brand of projector, any wall|
|Smart Whiteboard Projection Wallpaper – Low Sheen||Well-defined surface areas|
|Smart Self-Adhesive Whiteboard Film – Low Sheen||Smaller surface areas|
|Smart Magnetic Whiteboard Wallpaper – Low Sheen||Magnetic visuals on defined areas|
|Smart Magnetic Whiteboard Projector Wallcovering||Magnetic visuals on unlimited areas|
|Smart Short Throw Projector Screen Paint||Short throw projectors|
|Smart White Projector Screen Paint Pro||Low light and bright rooms|
|Smart Interactive Projector Screen Paint||Touch projector screens|
These are just our educational and office-based solutions and all can be used as standard whiteboard presentation areas in addition to their specialized function as projection screen surfaces.
Ready to learn more?
If you want to upgrade your projection space but don’t know where to start, get in touch with us today. Our dedicated, knowledgeable education advisors are on hand to offer free advice and to help you choose the best product for your needs.
Make sure to sign up for our free Education Hub for samples, discounts, and actionable tips on the use of projection equipment with Smarter Surfaces Whiteboard Projector Screen products.