Multimedia Projectors: A Key Component in the Classroom of the Future. (Special Report)

By de Groot, Marjon | T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education), June 2002 | Go to article overview

Multimedia Projectors: A Key Component in the Classroom of the Future. (Special Report)


de Groot, Marjon, T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)


Classrooms have changed dramatically over the last decade with the advent of new technologies and equipment developed to make teaching and learning more diversified and interactive. Today, more teachers than ever are using multimedia projectors in the classroom. Students no longer have to crowd around a computer monitor to view presentations, Web sires or training programs. Multimedia projectors are becoming the centerpiece of classroom technology hubs that directly engage students and add impact to each lesson.

Identifying Classroom Needs

The education market's growing interest in multimedia projectors has led to increased research and development efforts from product manufacturers. In the past, educators had to adapt projectors that were intended for business use. When educators wanted a portable projector, they often settled for reduced image quality, fewer connection options and a machine that could get very hot if run over long periods. However, when educators wanted a projector to perform at a high level for many hours, and could accommodate multiple connections, they likely settled for a large machine stationed in a multimedia center or other shared room where they had to relocate their class for that lesson--making it impractical for daily use. In both cases, these projectors were often difficult to operate, requiring assistance from an audiovisual specialist. The good news is that more products are being introduced to meet specific classroom needs.

To get a better understanding of exactly what teachers, media and AV specialists are looking for, Philips recently worked with Quality Education Data Inc. (QED) to survey 500 educators and media specialists in U.S. public schools to learn more about technology and equipment trends in K-12 classrooms. Most significantly, the study uncovered how highly educators value multimedia projectors as essential classroom tools. In fact, AV specialists who participated predict a projector in every classroom within the next five years (see chart below).

Important Features and Classroom Applications

Educators identified the following key features as what they liked best when purchasing a projector, in order of those most important to them: picture performance, resolution, long lamp life, product portability, brightness, PC connections and quiet operation. Other attributes considered critical included overall projector performance, ease of use, purchase price and cost of operation. In short, the study showed schools need affordable, high-performing, highly versatile and easy to use projectors.

When inquiring about what applications multimedia projectors are being used for (see chart on page 23), 91 percent of the educators surveyed who are currently using a multimedia projector indicated their most common use is for multimedia presentations. Educators commented that disseminating information to students in more than one form--whether through the combined use of text, audio, graphics or full-motion video--increases the student's chance of grasping and learning the lesson. Approximately 89 percent said they used the units for projecting computer screen images of the Internet or other PC applications while teaching, and 45 percent said they used them to display movies in the classroom.

Teacher, Student Benefits

When asked how multimedia projectors affected the teaching and learning experience, several areas of influence were identified, including visual aid, greater flexibility for alternative teaching methods, enhanced teacher demonstrations, heightened student awareness and customized curriculum applications.

Visual aid. Multimedia projectors allow teachers to provide diverse content to all students in the classroom at once, allowing students to have a visual and colorful learning experience during a given lesson. These projectors are perfect for this generation's visually oriented youth because they help make abstract concepts easier to understand. …

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