By Chris Craft, PhD: 6th grade Spanish and Latin teacher in Columbia, SC and InFocus education guru
As classroom educators look to move towards a more student-centered pedagogical model one of the critical elements is equipment that can handle the rigorous demands of learning. We teachers need equipment that is flexible and can accommodate the demands of today’s learners.
When I first started teaching I had an overhead projector that required transparencies. As I began to learn the ropes at my school I discovered a closet where technology went to be forgotten. In this closet was a dusty projector that clearly had not been used in quite some time. I grabbed it and took it to my classroom. After several days of cleaning and care I put it into service as my main source of display. In fact, I took my old overhead projector to that very same closet and in a seemingly ceremonious fashion, I placed the old overhead projector in the place where the dusty projector once sat.
My classroom has never been the same.
As the years progressed my love for projection technology increased. The old projector and I became good friends, and my students loved the ability to see real web content live on the screen. There is a different dynamic that takes place when a really good image coupled with a thoughtful line of inquiry is presented. I can recall the wonderful times we spent looking at crisp, clear images of some of my favorite places in Central and South America as we explored the world.
Sadly, my beloved projector had limitations. It could only handle a low resolution (800x600) and the color depth was lacking. As technology moved onto new formats such as composite video and HDMI, my poor projector looked on with envy. Then, roughly five years after I discovered the old projector, it died. I begged the school to let me get it fixed, but they refused. They replaced my projector with a new one. Sadly, the new projector was a low bid model that was noisy and had even worse color depth than the old dusty projector that was so faithful.
Then came InFocus.
This year, I replaced the low bid projector with an InFocus IN3916 interactive projector. The 3916 is quiet, produces deep, rich color, and has a variety of inputs.
It completes me.
When setting the classroom projector up I connected many different input devices. To name a few, I connected a Mac Mini through the HDMI connection, a standard DVD player through the SVideo, a laptop through the VGA connection, and the laptop audio through the projector’s audio inputs. And still the 3916 beckoned for more.
Wanting to give the 3916 all I had, I connected a wireless mic to the projector. Now when I show a video and want to narrate over it, the projector automatically reduces the video volume to let me talk.
Even with all I’ve connected to it thus far, it still has room for more. With the network connection and graphical user interface (GUI) I can instantly switch to any of the computers in my room as projection source. So as my kids are working in groups, I can easily let them show off their great work to the class.
It’s easy to focus on the interactive features of the projector, and those are wonderful. However, interactivity in a projector is all for not if the projector is not up to the demands of the classroom. Thankfully, the 3916 has taken all we’ve given in stride.
I continue my journey with my new faithful friend, the 3916. The old dusty projector looks on with pride, wishing us well.