The interactive screen has been fundamental in changing the way we learn and work. The classroom environment has got more exciting and the possibilities for collaboration opened up immensely in business. In this article we’re going to focus on interactive touch screens in both education and business. Read on to have your questions answered.
What is an interactive screen?
First things first… let’s be clear what we mean by an ‘interactive screen’. Although they look like giant TV screens, they’re actually display panels driven by a computer. The screens are usually LCD or LED display and can either have a built-in computer or be connected to an external device via cables.
While the sheer size of the display allows groups of users to easily view anything they normally would on a computer, such as documents, websites, emails or videos, the interactive nature of the screen enables content to be created collaboratively and flexibly.
What isn’t an interactive screen?
An interactive screen isn’t an interactive whiteboard. The latter is older technology which runs off projectors and lamps which, in a school setting, due to heavy usage can need changing annually.
What do we use interactive screens for?
One of the main uses of interactive screens is simply the alternative presentation of information. This applies as equally to business as it does to education. Documents, diagrams, graphics and video content can be displayed using an interactive screen during a business meeting, to a group of post-graduate students, or a primary school class. The alternative display of the content is designed to captivate the audience, particularly those who may find more traditional presentation methods challenging, or for subjects which are drier in nature.
The key word here really is ‘interactive’ – the digital annotation features on these devices is what makes them invaluable. The screens act as a modern form of a black or whiteboard, allowing you to ‘write’ in a variety of colours and styles. While a blank background can be used, it can often be more helpful to annotate the current display. Some examples would include labelling up a scientific diagram in class, rearranging the seating plan in an office, or marking up a video still for reshoots. The touchscreen display will enable you to save each of these new iterations, either to an external device, or send via email.
The benefits of interactive screens
We’ve set out a few key benefits when compared to traditional black/white boards and interactive whiteboards.
- The interactive screen is a single unit, there’s no need to purchase a separate projector or replace lamps.
- The touchscreen element enables multiple users to interact at once.
- The screen is unaffected by bright sunlight and can be viewed from any angle.
- The surface is strong and durable, able to withstand heavy and accidental usage.
- Through wireless connectivity, most screens are compatible with Apple and Android tablets via apps.
- Many screens have high quality built in speakers and microphones to enable ease of integration with VOIP apps.
- Interactive screens generally come with a warranty.
- Some screens have an option to purchase a built-in PC, requiring no additional hardware to operate. On top of that, they require little wiring, making installation very simple.
Interactive screens in the classroom
Interactive screens are a great addition to classrooms at any level, from primary to university. They enhance the learning environment in numerous ways:
- Interactive screen sharing allows less confident students to have their voice ‘heard’ in class without ever having to speak up – letting them express themselves and participate in a way that suits them.
- Working spaces can be transformed from rows of desks to collaborative areas, with such good screen clarity and the ability to share, students can work together more easily and learn from and support each other, building valuable life skills.
- Educators (teachers or lecturers) can share content in multiple ways – they can share to the screen from their portable device, and share from the screen to student devices.
- Educators can adapt as they teach as resources can be digitally tweaked mid-lesson, rather than having to perfectly prepare print outs and resources in advance.
- Interactive screens often come bundled with free software to use within lessons and lectures. These could be videos, gamification tools or mathematical apps.
- Teachers and lecturers can readily share material in advance of classes, allowing students to create materials to bring and share with the class – giving more time to in-depth learning.
Interactive screens in business
Interactive screens in business really add to the collaborative working movement that’s growing within organisations. While they may not be the main focus in an office or large open-plan working space, they’re certainly a valuable supplement to a meeting room or smaller breakout area.
- Workers can move seamlessly from the convenient touch screen devices they use on a daily basis, to confidently operating interactive screens, as the principles are the same and familiar.
- Presentations can be a more dynamic and inclusive event, if appropriate, by colleagues being able to participate directly on the screen.
- Meetings can be more productive by there being a forum for all staff members to share thoughts together, rather than waiting in turn to speak, or silently observing.
- Work done directly on the screen can be shared with staff quickly, both during and after sessions.
What else are interactive screens known as?
‘Interactive screen’ is just one term of many. ‘Smart board’ is commonly used, where it’s not always known that ‘SMART’ is in fact the brand name – similar to Hoover being the household term in the UK for a vacuum cleaner. Other common names include: display boards, interactive boards, interactive LCD screens, interactive touchscreens, interactive displays, and really any combination of the words in the preceding list.
What size should my interactive screen be?
Screens range hugely in size, from 50-90 inches as standard, giving the flexibility to suit most available spaces. When picking what size suits your classroom or meeting space, there are a few different aspects to consider:
- how visible the screen will be from each seating position
- how many users will be physically interacting with the screen at once
- how clearly do the audience need to hear the screen (if not using external speakers)
Remember, bigger isn’t always better, it needs to suit the space you’ll be installing it in. If it’s so big it becomes obstructed when doors are opened, that’s too big. On the other hand, if you’ll want three people annotating at once, 50 inch probably won’t cut it. Bear in mind future growth as well – if you’re fitting out a meeting room, but expecting to expand and move office imminently, perhaps consider a larger option.
Who makes interactive screens?
There are some well-known brands of interactive screens out there, including: SMART, CTOUCH, Promethean, Clevertouch and BenQ.
Now we’ve explained a bit more about what interactive screens are, we’d be happy to help you find the right model for your specific use case. Chat with us today.