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VIEWS & OPINION


Top tips to consider when buying an Interactive Flat Panel for schools


Comment by ADRIAN KITE, Sales Manager at BenQ UK


Teaching how to think, not what to think


Comment by FELICIA JACKSON, Chair of the Learn2Think Foundation


I


nteractive technology in the classroom is a significant growth area for the industry. As interactive teaching becomes part and parcel of education, the last 12-18 months have seen a rise in schools replacing their Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) with an Interactive Flat Panel (IFP), so it’s important for schools to consider a number of factors when making this type of substantial investment.


Size


In a large classroom with 30 students, IFP size is of upmost importance. Most IFPs are smaller than the IWB that they replace, ranging from sizes 65” to 75”, but the smaller screens offer higher brightness, resolution and clarity (1080p/4K) than the typical projector (XGA/WXGA). The IFPs are also wider with a modern wide-screen format, instead of the older 4:3 format, and deliver minimal projector glare or shadowing.


Weight


We recommend that an IFP weighing up to 100kg should be installed using a qualified or experienced installer. It’s also important to consider where the IFP will be mounted in a classroom - professional brackets or mounts designed to hold the weight of the particular screen should be used.


Installation


IFPs offer flexible installation options and a qualified installer would be able to advise on the different options suitable for learning spaces. Interactive Flat Panels can easily be trolley mounted, secured on an adjustable floor stand or wall-mounted.


Total Cost of Ownership


An IFP has a much lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than a typical projector. This is primarily because an IFP offers 30,000 – 50,000 hours backlight life with minimal maintenance costs. IFPs also provide low power consumption. A further advantage is that IFP should also offer free ‘over the air’ firmware and software upgrades, which ensures that all hardware is kept up to date automatically.


Software


Most schools require annotation or notetaking software to use with the IFP. When considering the software to use, we recommend that schools should look at either the upfront or annual subscription cost, how many devices the software can be installed on and whether the software will have the capability to open legacy files. Most IFPs will have been factory calibrated and installed with new Android features, which means apps can also be downloaded to the screen.


Warranty and Manufacturer Support


Schools should look beyond the number of years the warranty lasts, and make their decision based on what is covered by the warranty and the level of service included. Most schools would choose the true manufacturer’s warranty as it is likely to be better backed up and offers more guarantees compared to a warranty provided by a third-party.


Alternatives


Projectors are still viewed as a good low-cost solution for schools who are looking to get the largest and lightest screen sizes on the market (over 80”) with better viewing angles. With personal devices becoming more popular, some schools are choosing to buy larger non-interactive commercial displays and adding a screen-casting software or hardware, which allows content to be ‘casted’ onto a central display. Overall, IFPs are a good investment as the cost of ownership is much lower than a traditional projector and schools will have a variety of apps and software to choose from. Based on these top tips, schools should be able to make an educated purchase decision and find the best IFP solution for their needs.


September 2017


S


eptember is a time of new beginnings at school, and an opportunity to think again about what we want our children to gain from education.


The curriculum is there for a reason, set to prepare children for the challenges and demands of the modern world that lie ahead. But underlying the curriculum runs the question of what is education for? Is it to fill children’s heads with facts, is it to socialise them for a world of work, or is it a place to teach them the skills to navigate a complex and ever- changing world?


One idea which has been gaining momentum over the last few years is Carol Dweck’s work on the important of mindset. A mindset is a set of assumptions, methods, or notations that is so established that it encourages people or groups to continue to adopt or accept prior behaviours, choices, or tools. The idea is that the stories you tell yourself (as well as the things you believe about yourself) can either prevent change or allow the development of new ideas and skills.


After studying the behaviour of thousands of children, Dr. Dweck coined the terms fixed mindset and growth mindset to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. When students believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger. Therefore they put in extra time and effort, and that leads to higher achievement. When they are given an opportunity to contribute and to be part of a learning community, they are able to experience the value of their contribution and their part in the learning process. One way in which we can achieve growth mindset is to broaden the scope of children's learning through enquiry and the exploration of ideas, using processes such as P4C. Children learn that their ideas have value, and that the ideas of other people have value too. Professor Michael Hand has made a case for philosophy being included as part of compulsory education on the basis that it introduces aspects of a good education, such as ethics and politics, in a way that no other subject can. But it can also do so much more than this.


Peter Worley, chief executive of the Philosophy Foundation reminds us, “Philosophy emerges from humans being human, and some would say that it emerges from one of the features that, like cooking and storytelling, sets us apart from other animals: namely, contemplation.” Philosophical discussion, enquiry and debate demand awareness which in itself leads to self-conscious, self-aware monitoring and control of one’s own learning. Encourage critical thinking and social awareness in one fell swoop, by signing up to the 2017 Tolerance Day programme at www.toleranceday.org. You can also enter our journalism competition for the under 11’s and win a workshop at the Guardian Education Centre.


www.education-today.co.uk 19


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