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Jun 03

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HD projectors in schools… or lack thereof

Do you know any schools that have all HD projectors in the classrooms yet?

Plug and Play

I remember the days of the Polycom Viewstation and VSX 7000, when you could just buy the codec, and plug it into any projector in any classroom in the school (via S-Video).

No HD!

Now, I have a school looking to replace a unit, and we’ve run into a bit of a problem! The classrooms don’t have HD projectors! The new projectors they are buying this summer are NOT HD projectors!

So… if they want to invest in a new Polycom HDX or Tandberg Edge or C20… they need an HD display! Which they don’t have in the classrooms.

You can no longer buy a codec and run it around the school / district plugging into whatever display is in the classroom. Is that really true? Please someone, prove me wrong!

Where did the middle go?

Does it seem this way to you?

  • Hardware based videoconferencing has moved up and is getting out of reach of “do-ability” for schools…
  • Skype is super easy, but not H.323 and difficult use a pan/tilt/zoom camera with it…
  • Where’s the middle option?

Is desktop VC getting more attractive?

Does it seem to you also that for ease of use and implementation through the whole school it might be easier to use desktop videoconferencing pushed beyond it’s design limits to show and share for the whole classroom? instead of trying to get the hardward based – HD videoconferencing working?

I still like carts

I still like the ease of use of videoconference carts. But I was hoping we’d be able to soon have solutions that could be in every classroom. But a cart with an HD flat screen might still be the way to make VC the simplest for teachers. No fiddling with the settings and connections as you have to for desktop VC solutions.

I suspect the vendors think HD is the way to go now; but don’t realize that K12 schools are a few years away from having a proliferation of HD projectors.

Just thinking out loud here… do you agree? Do you notice this problem also? Is it just that our area is more rural and funds are tighter? How is it in your area? Please comment!

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.janinelim.com/?p=4285

7 comments

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  1. Janie Panagooulos

    I am working, more and more, with teachers using SKYPE, they use it at home, load their personal account into their school laptop, and they are good to go.

    Limited, if any, need of help from their tech people and simple connections for them. They are also using projectors, whiteboards, and even classroom monitor to share the connection.

    Personally, the quality is bad, but the teachers can control their time, needs issues, and connect without waiting for a tech person.

    1. Janine Lim

      So what we really need is something like Skype but higher quality – but still gives teachers the control that they want! Thanks for sharing your experience, Janie!

  2. Ken Conn

    If they didn’t have the funds to also update the projector, they could use a DVI-VGA adapter (~$20) to connect to the VGA input or add a scan convertor (~$130) to that to connect to the composite or s-video inputs to connect an HDX system to their existing projectors.

    http://www.btx.com/default.aspx?page=item detail&itemcode=CD-DVI3000

    http://www.averusa.com/presentation/product_avk300g.asp

    Like it was pointed out, teachers like things like Skype and Adobe Connect because they are very easy to use and they need minimal to no help with them. They almost always work too, unlike H.323 which seems to require so much testing and exchanges of information and then it still might not work when you go to use it. The trade-off is currently those solutions are proprietary so you are more limited in the people/groups you can connect with, the quality isn’t as good, the audio can give you issues, the cameras are very limited (especially when working with large group activities), and if the computer comes down with problems (i.e. a virus) you are SOL. Plus some districts ban these resources.

    In my opinion and experience, the mobile videoconferencing cart with a 37” or 42” display is the way to go for most campuses. It is all set-up and ready to go so all a teacher needs to do is roll it into a classroom and plug in the power and the network cable. We also leave a break-out cable for the easy connection of a laptop or document camera for sharing. We have also set some of them up with an output option as well to also connect them into existing mounted projectors and audio systems for when you want to use them in larger rooms. Plus, since it is mobile you can move to any spot in the school that has an electrical outlet and network access.

  3. Tim Van Heule

    You can get an HD/VGA adapter. As long as the funding is there, we’re going to get a bunch of C20s… but we don’t have HD projectors or displays… so, I think we’ll also be investing in the HD/VGA adapter.

    1. Janine Lim

      Thanks Tim and Ken for adding that info. I agree, Ken, that those carts are so simple and easy for the teachers!

  4. Ben

    As the market is starting to really fully mature, and the acquisitions settle I think the next big place for video-conference unit manufacturers to go is looking at aligning themselves with IWB manufacturers.

    We have several HD projectors in our district because that’s what came with our IWBs. If vendors like Promethean and SMART got together with Polycom or Cisco (unless they own each other already), they could really be in a position to deliver an all in one solution for digital media and VC needs.

    1. Janine Lim

      I absolutely agree, Ben. But I fear that the vendors aren’t thinking about education too much right now due to the tightening funds in education. It seems like LifeSize/Logitech are more likely to think of it… if they are paying attention!

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