How to Save Hours (and £££) with Low Maintenance Education Technology

Education technology has never been better. But as funding proves to be an ongoing challenge for schools across the UK, every piece of equipment in the classroom needs to earn its place.

Not only do tight budgets mean less money for equipment, but they also mean less money for specialist IT staff. Today teachers need great value, easy-to-use technology that they can maintain and operate pretty much on their own.

We’ve taken a look at the two developments in low-maintenance education technology – touchscreens and laser projectors – to highlight where you can cut costs and stress levels, without impacting on performance.

Touchscreens for the classroom

One of the most significant advancements in education technology in recent years has been classroom touchscreens. These large screens probably aren’t news to you if you work in the education sector; they’ve transformed lessons and teaching practices with collaboration and interactivity.

The best education touchscreens offer crisp, bright displays and offer a better touch experience than interactive whiteboards. The value is proven in the fact that they’re often hardier than interactive whiteboards and you don’t have to consider projector lamp change costs which can really add up as the education sector tend to use their projectors more than any other market. Touchscreens also feature in-built and carefully thought out operating systems designed for use in the classroom. They keep maintenance to an absolute minimum, and manufacturers are working hard to integrate multiple connectivity options to ensure your lesson flow is never interrupted and you don’t have to pay for costly IT service contracts.

A touchscreen with these collaborative specification features really helps unlock the potential in each individual. Allowing students to share work from their own devices on the screen has helped enormously in encouraging collaboration and productive discussion.

This ease of connectivity has been instrumental in the growth in touchscreen popularity. As mobile devices become more popular in education settings, it’s common to find students working from iPads or other tablets as teachers battle to immerse their pupils in learning – in the classroom and at home.

Designed specifically for use in education environments, Clevertouch’s V Series is one of the most popular choices on the market and one we’d always advise those looking for the best in education technology to check this range out.

These touchscreens offer a lot of features and spec, even for the budget-conscious and maintenance is simple compared to an interactive whiteboard and projector combo. As well offering Full HD touchscreens with interactivity for up to 10 touchpoints, the Clevertouch V Series also include integrated speakers, ready-to-use widgets and apps, and a touch-control menu. This means that you save on adding all of these extra software and audio-hardware items to an install whilst simultaneously making it easier than ever for the teachers and pupils to use.

The V Series is far from the only classroom touchscreen worth considering, check out our recent roundup of the best touchscreens for education here or have a peek at the BenQ RP552H for more entry level inspiration outside of the Clevertouch range.

Laser projectors: A game changer?

Of course, while touchscreens are the relatively new kid on the block, projectors are the veterans of the education tech – or edtech – market. Projectors offer technology that schools are familiar with but they’ve historically been associated with heavy maintenance costs in both time and money.

Touchscreens offer an attractive alternative, but don’t disregard projectors just yet in your quest to save time and money. With advancements in laser projection technology, these devices are now more reliable than ever and maintenance requirements have been massively reduced.

Laser light source projectors mean lamp-free operation and thus reduced maintenance. By removing the need to replace the lamp periodically, you also reduce the ongoing cost associated with the equipment, making projectors better value than ever before for schools on a tight budget.

Which should you choose?

At the moment, we don’t believe this is a “one or the other comparison” – mainly as laser projectors still command a high premium and they aren’t necessarily suitable for the classroom environment. Most of the available units are over 5000 lumens, perfect for an assembly hall or lecture theatre but far too bright for an average classroom.

Even though they’re not comparable, here’s the considerations when buying either of these “maintenance free” technologies.

Running costs and maintenance

Many laser projectors have now lost the shackles associated with the high cost – and hassle – of replacing the lamp. But there are still some hybrid models at entry level that require intermittent lamp maintenance, even though it’s greatly reduced.

Touchscreens remove this issue altogether, providing interactive technology without the hassle and cost of lamp replacement.

Consider downtime too – although productivity is difficult to associate with a £ value in the education sector, it is important to see this as a qualitative detriment.

From our experience, a touchscreen’s intuitive operating system mean they’re super quick to get (and keep) up and running, preventing confusion and reducing wasted time as new (non-technical) users get setup.

Functionality

There’s no point saving money if the technology you buy doesn’t do its job in the first place.

Touchscreens really do start to rise exponentially in price over certain sizes.

Think about whether you need a large image displayed, brightly for dozens of people (a projector would do a great job here), or if you’re looking for a smaller image that will facilitate collaborative smaller-group work in the classroom (hint: get a touchscreen!).

Price

We can’t ignore the all-important price decision.

Prices for touchscreens begin at around £1,500, while prices you can buy a projector, even a Full HD resolution unit, for much less. Optoma’s EH345, for example is just £521.00 (ex VAT).

Even if we consider a cost of around £150 ex VAT for a new lamp, the price leap to a laser projector at over £2,000 or a touchscreen is still substantial, yet what price could you put on the ease of functionality a touchscreen provides?

We’ve also not considered the price of an interactive whiteboard and all the additional installation and connectivity this requires!

There’s certainly still a case for laser projectors and a touchscreen in many education environments, particularly those with different sizes of classroom, larger assembly rooms, lecture theatres or multiple teaching environments.

The good news is, we’re here to help.

If you’re unsure about what equipment is best for your classroom, please feel free to call our experts on 0800 073 0834 or send us an email and we’ll get back to you quickly.