That being said, the conversations that I have with these companies can be helpful and open my eyes to new trends in educational technology. That's what happened this past week when I talked with InFocus.
InFocus is a well known, respected company the manufactures many different pieces of hardware, mainly focused on projection and display. One of their new products is the JTouch - a large 65" touchscreen display specifically designed for the classroom. It looks nice, and has a pretty good price as well ($1,999 for schools).
I politely declined payment for writing a post about their product and offered some suggestions about how to market and promote the JTouch to teachers. I also had to ask one poignant question:
Why should educators invest in a teacher-focused device rather than putting technology into the hands of students?Their response [my paraphrase]
Every classrooms need a display device. The JTouch gets students up and interacting rather than just sitting behind their screen and the JTouch is a lot less expensive than other interactive whiteboard or interactive projector products on the market.Nothing wrong with the response but it got me thinking: InFocus is NOT competing exclusively against other "large screen" products, they are competing against EVERY product with a screen.
If you have $3000 to spend in your classroom, would you rather have 1 BIG screen or:
- 6 iPad Air 2 ($479 Edu pricing)
- 10 Acer C720 Chromebooks ($279)
- 11 Nexus 7 Tablets ($259)
The question of large vs. small screens goes well beyond price. Much of what you can do with an interactive display can be replicated on small screen devices:
- PearDeck and NearPod extend the teachers screen onto student screens.
- Socrative, Geddit, and Kahoot facilitate whole-class interactive games and assessment
In addition, small screens can be used for small group work, writing essays, making multimedia projects, research, and more.
Is the "large screen" era dead; or at least limited to special applications (media centers, trade-shows, lecture halls, etc)? Would you rather have a large screen or small screens in your classroom?
Oh, if you are interested, you can learn more about the JTouch here.