Now You See It.

8/1/2011 11:25:00 AM

With a computer and a projector, the world is a teacher’s oyster, right? But with more than 600 projectors on the market—and maybe half of them suitable for classroom use—figuring out the right one for your school might take more time than you have. A first step toward narrowing down the field of projectors is to see if 2D or 3D is a better fit. Here, two educators share their thoughts on that subject.


Boulder Valley (CO) School District

What do you use?

Has more than 1,000 fixed-mount Vivitek projectors based on Texas Instrument’s DLP technology in 1,400 classrooms,

Why did you buy projectors?

“In a district-wide vote on how to use refresh dollars, 51 people said yes to projectors and only three said no,” says Len Scrogan, the former director of instructional technology and library media. (He retired in May.) “Those who said no already had them. In today’s visual society, it makes sense for teachers to use these tools.”

How did you choose the ones you bought?

Scrogan’s team of teachers and tech staffers spent a year researching projectors and developing a wish list of specs. After narrowing it down to 13 companies, he had a shootout phase in which products were placed side-by-side then evaluated and voted on. Ultimately, Vivitek was the winner.

What do you like about 3D?

“There is no cost difference between 3D and 2D, and 3D projectors have a longer life, lower cost of ownership, and can be seen more clearly at the back of room,” says Scrogan. “But the real pro is the compelling presence of 3D visuals in the classroom. Kids watch a 3D lesson and ask to see it again. They don’t do that with PowerPoint!” Best of all, he says children can rebuild 3D lessons in their minds, which translates into higher test scores.

Any negatives?

The ancillary costs, such as graphics cards for the computer and 3D glasses, can add up. Also, there aren’t enough curricular materials for social studies, health, and math. “We need more types of content, too—not just subject areas. Today, most content is a video documentary or clip. We need more learning objects, simulations, and student-development tools that let students and teachers make 3D simulations.”


Baltimore City (MD) Public Schools

What do you use?

Has a total of 3,000+ projectors, of which more than 1,200 are Epson PowerLite models

Why did you buy projectors?

“We have a combination of projectors and interactive whiteboards to give students a visual representation of what the teacher is teaching,” says Nick Williams, system administrator. “Before the Internet, people were always huddling around a small computer screen. Now we have a large visual format in which kids can share and interact.”

How did you choose the ones you bought?

The district has several different types of projectors, including some that come bundled with interactive whiteboards. They selected Epson because of its warranty and tech support, and the product’s clarity. Williams says the cost of ownership turned out well, compared with other manufacturers that don’t make their own lamps.

What do you like about 2D?

The direct cost of the projector and the associated equipment is less than for a 3D unit, and there is a lot more content. “With more than 200 schools, it’s a large investment. We must have point-and-click curricular materials for teachers to use. Also, 2D doesn’t need to be kept sterile and doesn’t require special glasses.” [ED NOTE: To clarify a point in this interview, 3D enabled projectors do not need to be kept sterile. This comment was in reference to sterilizing 3D glasses after student use.]

Any negatives?

Not really, says Williams. “It’s been around for years and is what you expect in a classroom. If you measure it against 3D, it’s not 3D, but I don’t feel there are any cons. It helps reinforce what the teacher is doing.”

Where to find 2D and 3D projectors

LG Electronics

Scan here to see a booth demonstration of TI DLP’s 3D technology from ISTE11
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