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Classroom Interactive Display

Touchscreen vs Interactive Whiteboard

For many, the IWB (Interactive Whiteboard) is still a valuable and indispensable tool. However, for others it’s never quite lived up to the promise. Various reasons for this are often cited, such as difficulty in using the software, lack of accuracy, problems with calibration, can’t get the image aligned with the board, problems with focus, projected image is too dim (particularly on bright days), or just won’t work interactively !
In truth, most of these common problems are fairly minor technical issues that can be easily corrected. However, that is also part of the problem. Most teachers do not have the time or the technical training to diagnose and correct these issues, which are then left for the IT tech support staff to sort out (if they’ve been notified).
Unfortunately as a result, many classroom IWB’s are under-used and often only used as a projection surface without any interactive element.

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So, what are the advantages of the LED Touchscreen?

Well, to start with, you’re not relying on projecting and aligning images to a whiteboard. Your PC or laptop connects directly to the screen for a high resolution perfectly focused display, that is bright and clear, even in a well lit room.
Setup is generally very simple. Just a HDMI or VGA cable for display, plus a USB cable for interaction with plug & play driver installation. Calibration is also no longer an issue. Once set, it should stay set. No more problems caused by slamming doors, wobbly walls and bouncy floors!
In addition, the whole installation is far neater and less obtrusive. Speakers are built-in. No need for projectors on walls or ceilings and hence less cabling. It’s also far easier to use these on a mobile cart if existing wall space is not suitable, or if moving to different locations is required.

Size Still Matters

Modern LED touchscreens are available in a range of sizes, presently up to 84” diagonal. Thought should be given to the size requirements in relation to the physical size and layout of the classroom. For example, the 55” diagonal screen is only really suitable for smaller rooms, or where students can gather around in fairly close proximity to view within about a 5m range. The most common classroom size is now the 65” diagonal which is generally perceived to be suitable for most “standard” size classrooms. However, if funds allow, the bigger the better.

The standard screen resolution is full HD 1920 x 1080 pixels which is much better than most projectors are capable of. Some of the new larger screens are also now available with Ultra HD (4K) Resolution, 3840 x 2160 pixels. This allows for very high definition and sharp images, even when viewed close up.

What about ease of use and software?

Nothing could be simpler in terms of use. No additional software is required. It’s basically the same as using a Touch-screen tablet or laptop in so far as controlling everything you do with your PC that you would normally use a mouse for i.e. activating programs, opening files, moving and re-sizing objects. ( To be fair, this is also the same for any Interactive Whiteboard.) All of this can be used either by finger touch, or with a plain stylus.
The advantages of the LED Touchscreen is that multiple touchpoints and gestures can also be fully used. (MS Windows 8 or 10 are recommended for full multi-touch functions).
Any existing software that is on your Windows PC or Apple Mac will work with the Touchscreen. You don’t require any specific software, you can continue to use existing education, content creation IWB software (subject to any license requirements). Plus many new and updated software applications will be progressively more adapted for use with Touchscreen technology.

Total Cost of Ownership

Various studies have been conducted on this subject, although often the figures used can vary wildly due to brand, bias, regional variations and unrealistic assumptions, so I won’t list any specific dollar figures. However, it would appear safe to say that the long term (6+ years) overall running cost of an LED Touchscreen would be considerably less that for a regular IWB with projector.
The main reasons for this would be the reduction in maintenance and consumables for the projector (such as replacement lamps, cleaning filters), plus also a reduction in hidden costs such as down-time / loss of productivity for both teachers and technicians due to calibration, brightness and focus problems. Lower power consumption. Effective lifespan of a classroom projector used for around 7 hours a day would be 3 to 5 years. After 3 years there would be a noticeable and progressive deterioration of image quality, brightness and reliability.
In contrast, an Led touchscreen would suffer very little image deterioration over the same period.