Quick Draw

Quick Draw

Plano ISD Adds Interactivity to Projection Systems District-Wide

Plano ISD installed the BenQ MP780ST short-throw projector and the PointDraw interactive projection system with Q-Draw software in 11 elementary schools and will install the technology in 32 more elementary campuses this year.

PLANO, TX—As is the case in most school districts, for 4,200 teachers of the Plano, TX Independent school district (ISD), keeping over 55,400 students engaged is a priority. As early as 2008, Plano ISD was able to preview a Texas Instrument innovation that allowed a projector to integrate interactivity using the fast-speed DLP chipset. It was obvious even at that early junction a greater interactive experience could play a pivotal role in engagement and sustained learning.

Plano teachers had the desire for interactive whiteboard-like technologies, which would fit well into the current model of projectors with wireless keyboards/mice and annotation software. Other districts started adopting interactive whiteboards, but Plano ISD decided not to go in that direction given that teachers are constrained by the interactive white board itself. In addition, interactive whiteboards did not provide flexibility and natural flow around the classroom.

Plano ISD planned to add projectors to their elementary school classrooms, and conducted research into potential solutions. The BenQ brand kept coming out on top in relationship to the desired standards and issues, such as exceptional visual performance, overall product quality, comfortable pen design and recharge capabilities, smooth pen operation, little to no learning curve for the instructor, low maintenance, and competitive price. The BenQ MP780ST was installed in two elementary classrooms for testing.

At the conclusion of the pilot phase, the BenQ Q-Draw software package, which is bundled with the projector, came out ahead of all competing vendors. Plano ISD ultimately chose to acquire a district license, which included the rights to share with parents and students at home. BenQ was flexible, listened to their specific needs and provided a customized solution for Plano ISD. BenQ’s education division provided excellent local customer support during the process and deployment.

Plano ISD installed the BenQ MP780ST short-throw projector and the PointDraw interactive projection system with Q-Draw software in 11 elementary schools and will install the technology in 32 more elementary campuses before fall. Plano ISD is also equipping each classroom with a document camera equipped with Safari Montage to support videoconferencing.

The BenQ MP780ST allows the teacher to change the strategy on how teaching happens within the classroom. As the teaching strategy changes then learners and the atmosphere within the whole class culture changes. The BenQ MP780ST pen projector and PointDraw pen, which allows for a collaboration partnership anywhere in the classroom, provide this two-way learning environment.

“This interactive technology has changed the classrooms and enhanced the learning experience for teachers and students,” said Mary Hewett, Plano ISD executive director of instructional technology. “The interaction happens anywhere in the classroom. The pen can be used on any wall or from any location in the classroom. In addition, traditional interactive board solutions are quite expensive. The price for an interactive white board is roughly twice the cost of the BenQ MP780ST interactive projector, and it does not even include the projector.”

When installing technology into existing facilities, there is always an on site learning curve, such as the type of construction, how the school is wired, and all of the other details needed in a successful installation. BenQ projectors made the integration process much easier, as the model MP780ST is a short-throw projector, allowing it to be placed much closer to the projection screen or surface, which makes running signaling and power cabling simpler.

Since each classroom is different, installation maps were done on a classroom-by-classroom basis. During this project, BenQ designed a custom ceiling mount for the projector to accommodate each of the installation hurdles encountered. The district is actually evaluating the use of chalkboards for some of the rooms as the BenQ MP780ST has a feature called wall color correction. This feature allows color compensation so that a blackboard can be used to display an image. This implementation could save hundreds of dollars per classroom by reusing existing equipment.

The staff of Systems Contractor News serves the AV integration industry with thorough news analysis, trend reports, and the latest product and technology information—delivered to an audience of decision-makers.