Case Study

Great Expectations !!! Clovis Unified School District Raises the Bar on Classroom Collaboration With Projection System

Clovis Unified School District

The Task Of Equipping Over 2,000 Teachers With Technology That Delivered On Clovis’ Expectations Fell To Chris Edmonson, Coordinator Of Educational Technology And Professional Development For The School District.

Situation And Challenge

The Clovis Unified School District in Clovis, California, has high expectations for classroom technology. Administrators are charged with equipping instructors with effective solutions that are future- and bullet-proof, easy to utilize, and cost little to maintain. When it came to classroom communication technology, however, individual teachers had been acquiring different brands of TVs and projectors over the years. The result was a mishmash landscape of unique classrooms, making maintenance projections impossible, ease of use nonexistent, and consistent reliability a dream. To address these issues, the decision was made in 2009 to standardize on a collaborative classroom system and deploy it district wide. The task of equipping over 2,000 teachers with technology that delivered on Clovis’ expectations fell to Chris Edmonson, coordinator of educational technology and professional development for the school district. Chris Edmonson decided quickly that projectors were the technology of choice for the communication challenges within a classroom, with a cost that is equivalent or less than small flat screen displays. Selecting the right projector was a little more difficult. He took a strategic approach to the process, first listing out the many considerations he had to take into account?

  • What is the real budget ?
  • What is the bottom line cost ?
  • What is the return ?
  • What is the cost of delaying ?
  • What is required to deploy ?
  • What is the deployment cost ?
  • Where will the funding come from ?
  • What is the learning curve for users ?
  • Who will instruct the faculty ?
  • What is the total cost of ownership ?
  • How easy is it to maintain ?
  • Who will do the maintenance ?
  • How long will this investment last ?
  • Which technology : DLP®, LCD, or OLED ?

Chris Edmonson then populated his concerns on a spreadsheet and from that engineered a scientific formula. He assigned prioritization to each of the points, with the major issues having greater weight. The objective was that the district hit the “sweet spot” given their budget, communication, and user realities. Once the decision making process was defined, he started looking at specific brands and models, with an eye on two of his more major concerns: technology brightness and ease of use for teachers.

DLP vs. Other Technologies

DLP (Digital Light Processor) is a Texas Instruments® innovation, which constructs images in a radically different way than the traditional transparency processors. Chris Edmonson’s research showed that DLP is superior in brightness to both LCD and OLED, and that its brightness lasts significantly longer. In addition, LCD experiences color erosion over time. Based on these factors, he decided on DLP technology.

Ease of Use

Each Clovis classroom would feature at least three video sources – a DVD player, computer, and document camera – and the projector would have to integrate with each, making ease of use a considerable concern. The navigation between content sources, at least two of which had audio, could cause the instructor to become bogged down in switching an audio and video system. There was fear that this factor would cause instructors to underutilize the projectors or even avoid them altogether.“The district needed an easy to use and easy to learn solution,” said Chris Edmonson. “Usability sometimes takes a secondary role when educators start looking

The Brand Comparisons and Decision

At the ISTE (International Society of Technology in Education) conference in Denver, Chris Edmonson compared numerous projector brands and models. Having already decided on DLP technology, he started looking for the best projector to fit Clovis’ requirements. Ultimately BenQ’s MX711 won the projector “shoot out.”The MX711 provided the greatest bang for the buck, in terms of brightness and ease of use. With a brightness of 3200 ANSI lumens and a high 5300:1 contrast ratio, the unit projects the brightest image in a real classroom environment, even more than projectors that cost over $300 more. The MX711 would also display the content from each classroom’s Internetenabled computer without effort from the instructors. The MX711 comes with an optional wireless display adaptor for USB 2.0 wireless WLAN connectivity, simplifying set-up and eliminating the clutter of cables. Using the projector’s optional wireless dongle, the computer wirelessly flips the display and audio content seamlessly to the projector.

Conclusion

When addressing today’s technology and communication mediums available to any district, the first question that comes up is cost. For Clovis, BenQ answered with a projector at a price that enabled the district to acquire a significant upgrade while managing overall expenditures, and meeting every criterion they had for the project. Chris Edmonson concluded “Of all the technology projects I have been tasked with, this was by far the most successful and fulfilling endeavor. It is being utilized in more situations, across more educational disciplines, and has been adopted faster. The teachers now say they don’t know how they lived without it, and the kids are learning more efficiently, which is really what it’s all about.”