Interactive Plasma Screen: The 'Rolls Royce' of Interactive Whiteboards
When looking at options for interactive whiteboards (IWB) for our classrooms we visited several schools to see what would be best for our pupils. At the time the predominant choice seemed to be a wall-mounted version powered by a projector. There were several unsuitable features here that we, as a school for children with special educational needs, could not buy into.
- The quality of image on the screen varied depending on the light coming into the classroom.
- There was often an annoying shadow created when using the IWB.
- Teachers reported that they had to recalibrate the board if a pupil was a bit 'heavy-handed' when using it.
- There was also the question of the whirring fan: this kind of white noise would have been a real issue in our school as we have many pupils with Autism and other sensory processing difficulties.
- Some of our pupils are really attracted to lights and the prospect of them staring into a projector lamp did not appeal to us.
- For us the main disadvantage of the IWBs which we saw was their lack of accessibility for pupils who happened to be wheelchair users. In order wheelchair users to use a traditional IWB they would have to put their wheelchair in a sideways position and more often than not they would not be able to reach the top of the screen. If you try doing this yourself you will see how frustratingly inaccessible it is!
What we opted for as our choice of IWB was an Interactive Plasma Screen made by Panasonic and supplied to us from Inclusive Technology. The Interactive Plasma Screen is a basically an enormous touch screen. This is a truly inclusive product in that it is accessible for all learners. This plasma screen addresses all the concerns we had about IWBs. The screen is not affected by daylight or the lack of it. There is no projector so no noise, no shadow and no bulbs to replace. It is extremely robust. We have never had to fix a screen and rarely have to recalibrate the screen. The image quality is superb, comparable to watching a program on television. It is really easy to set up and comes with an excellent set of speakers.
Of course the big selling point for us was the fact that wheel-chair users can access it as easily as the other pupils. You can adjust the height at the push of a button without having to recalibrate the screen. It is on wheels so you can move it around the school if need be. We often take it down to the school hall to use as part of assembly. We've had very little maintenance and nothing to replace. If something goes wrong, more often than not, it is a problem with the laptop. Setting it up is as easy as plugging in your laptop and you're away. Basically most programs that works on your laptop will work on it.
We started off with 1 now we have 12. Need I say more!