Focus On AV in Education: Wired School District Combines Projectors, Document Cameras, and Powered Loudspeakers for All-Sensory Education.
May 1, 2007 12:00 PM, By Linda Seid Frembes
Without a doubt, Shoreline School District in Washington state thrives on technology. With a combination of a high level of technology access and a first-rate teaching staff, Shoreline students consistently score above the state and national averages on standardized tests, and nearly 85 percent of the students who graduate from Shoreline schools pursue post-secondary education. The district has historically invested in both AV and IT technology as a means to enhance and complement activities in the classroom. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Shoreline devoted its AV resources to building a media library of VHS tapes numbering in the thousands, along with TVs and VCRs installed in the classrooms of its two high schools, two middle schools, and 11 elementary schools.
The school district recently took another evolutionary step in its technology journey by outfitting more than 400 of its K-12 classrooms with Hitachi CP-X255W LCD projectors.
“The digital projectors, combined with our access to Discovery Education unitedstreaming [a digital video-on-demand service], means that teachers can use video clips as part of their lesson plans, instead of taking class time to watch an entire video,” says Jim Golubich, director of instructional technology for the Shoreline School District. “They can cull out the five-minute clip that is useful to the lesson and show it via the projector.”
The school piloted the Discovery Education unitedstreaming service along with digital projectors in 150 classrooms last year. The pilot was so successful that the remainder of the school district's classrooms had the technology installed earlier this year. Along with that addition, as a district that prides itself on providing students and teachers with the latest technology, Shoreline chose to completely upgrade its presentation systems. Sold through Troxell Communications, the projectors were part of a larger multimedia package that includes document cameras and powered loudspeakers.
“Shoreline has traditionally enjoyed a high level of technology access,” Golubich says. “We provided laptops to each of our K7/K8 middle school and K9-12 high school students last year. We needed updated technology tools for the teaching staff. Next year, there are plans to provide more laptops for K5 and K6 grades.”
As for the current AV in the classroom situation, a wall-mounted Califone PA-300 powered loudspeaker was added to increase speech intelligibility. Document camera models vary depending on the grade levels. The secondary schools have an AVerMedia AVerVision300P document camera with the traditional straight arm for viewing text materials. Golubich explains that a different model was chosen for the elementary schools based on their use.
“They have a Logical Choice Technologies Lumens DC153 document camera with a gooseneck arm, so it is easier to look at irregular objects like bugs and rocks,” he says.
Shoreline School District standardized on the 2000-ANSI-lumen Hitachi CP-X255 LCD projector for its built-in network management capability, and to streamline projector lamp inventory and maintenance. For ease of installation and management, the CP-X255 LCD projector features an RJ-45 Ethernet port allowing for network control, maintenance, and scheduling.
“The ability to monitor various maintenance issues from a single location was a major priority when choosing a projector,” Golubich says. “We also wanted a projector with connectivity options, and the networking of the CP-X255 provided us with those advantages.”
Since installing the projectors, teachers and technical staff alike have enjoyed the versatility of the CP-X255. “The teachers have really embraced the technology,” says Jason Maher, video specialist for the Shoreline School District. “The PJMan software has allowed us to monitor lamp life and filter usage, and we have schedules set up that automatically turn off the projectors at the end of the day.”
Golubich notes that focusing on digital AV technology has certainly changed the classroom experience. “I see it most in the ubiquitous access of the system,” he says. “Previously, we had projectors on carts that teachers had to reserve in advance. The teachers were limited in the digital content they could use in class since they were dependent on the availability of the carts.”
The teaching staff has also said a final goodbye to their aging overhead projectors. “The new document cameras have the most currency now,” Golubich says. “And with their laptops, it is easy for the teachers to plug in and switch from the document camera to the Internet using the projector. It is a vast improvement in terms of operation. The overall effort has been well-received.”
Moving forward, Shoreline's technical staff will focus on supporting teachers and helping them use their current AV products effectively. “We are still testing new technologies,” Golubich says. “We have one school that is testing Smart boards, and our secondary schools are using Vernier probes in their science classes for data collection. But for now, most of our large capital investments are complete.”
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