Wireless Screen Mirroring vs. Interactive Flat Panels vs. Interactive Whiteboards: Guide to Interactive Technology for the Social Classroom
The social classroom leverages technology to engage students and create a collaborative experience. School districts rely on interactive display technology to excite students and enhance lesson plans, but several competing technologies can make choosing a solution complex for IT administrators. There are distinctions in compatibility, implementation, and features between each solution that IT administrators should consider when investigating interactive display technology for their district.
Districts want a cost-effective and easy-to-implement solution that will allow their educators to enhance the learning experience with simple and effective collaboration. IT departments, meanwhile, are concerned about the cost and resources required to maintain the devices, train staff, and handle an uptick in help desk tickets after implementing a solution.
An ideal social classroom solution will work with the devices and software already used in the classroom, help teachers and students interact and engage, and enhance the learning experience.
Understanding the differences between interactive flat panels, interactive whiteboards, and wireless screen mirroring will help you choose the ideal solution for your district. Here we’ll look at not only the differences but also the challenges of implementing each solution and how the right solution can minimize and overcome challenges.
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What Is an Interactive Flat Panel?
An interactive flat panel is like a flat-screen television with a touchscreen for interacting with the surface. While some models allow the teachers and students to interact with the screen using their fingers, many require a pen or remote to manipulate the screen. The pen replicates the experience of a dry-erase marker, creating a familiar writing experience on an unfamiliar medium.
An advantage interactive flat panels have over other technology is their useability without any external A/V source. They can display content from internal memory, USB flash drive, or—in SMART-enabled models—from the internet.
What Is Wireless Screen Mirroring?
Wireless screen mirroring solutions pair laptops, tablets, phones, and other devices with a classroom or campus display. They connect to displays your district may already use, like flat panels, projectors, or digital signage.
A wireless screen mirroring device connects to the classroom display and allows teachers and students to connect to the device and share their screen wirelessly. It gives the teacher more freedom to move around and interact with the classroom while manipulating the shared audio and video. Displays are secure from unauthorized access and can be centrally managed by IT using a user database.
How Educators Use Interactive Whiteboards, Flat Panels, and Wireless Screen Mirroring
When a school district introduces new technology into the classroom, the primary goal is to improve accessibility, increase student engagement, and encourage a social classroom. Interactive whiteboards, flat panels, and wireless screen mirroring technology are suitable solutions for meeting all three goals. When properly implemented, the technology enhances the teacher's lesson plans and generates eagerness to learn.
While it can take some time for educators to adapt to interactive technology in the classroom, training can help teachers properly leverage technology for education. Educators can use interactive whiteboards, flat panels, and wireless screen mirroring to enhance their lesson plans.
Interactive display technology allows teachers to display content in ways the chalkboard never could, playing interactive learning games, encouraging collaboration, and making information more digestible for students.
Related: What Types of Technology Can Be Used In the Classroom?
Similarities and Differences Between the Interactive Technologies
Interactive whiteboards, interactive flat panels, and wireless screen mirroring technology have several features that make them a practical solution for engaging students and teachers in the social classroom. Each technology has distinctions that require careful consideration to meet your district's needs.
Interactive Whiteboards vs. Interactive Flat Panels
Interactive whiteboards and flat panels allow teachers and students to interact with the images and text on screen, manipulating, annotating, and transforming the information displayed. Both provide the interaction and engagement educators seek to build a social classroom.
Interactive flat panels can display content directly from files saved on a flash drive or the internet on SMART-enabled panels. Interactive whiteboards always require an external source to share content with the projector. Educators looking for a simple solution can find the setup of interactive whiteboards cumbersome, resulting in many teachers using the keyboard and mouse to manipulate the content from their desks.
Interactive Whiteboards vs. Wireless Screen Mirroring
Interactive whiteboard and wireless screen mirroring provide an interactive display solution for teachers and students. Wireless screen mirroring uses a plug-and-play device with an existing display or digital signage solution, while interactive whiteboards use a projector to convey an image on a whiteboard screen. Each solution relies on an external source to display content.
Wireless screen mirroring provides a distinct advantage over interactive whiteboards for the social classroom, allowing one or more devices to share their screen to the display wirelessly. Interactive whiteboards use an IR or DLP tracking system to draw images on the whiteboard with a specialized pen device.
Wireless screen mirroring solutions allow teachers to manipulate content from their devices. Interactive whiteboard projectors may have multiple inputs, but they are limited to the devices connected by an HDMI cable or A/V cable in proximity of the projector. Wireless screen mirroring allows the teacher to interact with the display while walking through the classroom and interacting with students.
Interactive Flat Panels vs. Wireless Screen Mirroring
Interactive flat panels and wireless screen mirroring systems (when combined with an HD display) offer a high-resolution interactive display, enhancing the learning experience. Each solution features audio and video comparable to an HDTV without a bulky projector.
The interactive flat panel allows teachers and students to manipulate the display through touch or using a pen. It can also display content without an external source using the internet when enabled or a flash drive. However, if a teacher or student wants to share their screen, they will need to connect to the display using a display cable.
Wireless screen mirroring eliminates the limitations of wired devices, allowing teachers and students to connect to the display for a social classroom experience. Users can manipulate the content on the screen from a device like a tablet from a desk or while freely moving throughout the classroom.
Wireless screen mirroring works with your existing displays, including interactive flat panels or digital signage, and is compatible with almost any wireless device or software.
Challenges Implementing Interactive Whiteboards, Flat Panels, or Wireless Screen Mirroring in an Educational Environment
When IT administrators choose an interactive technology for their district, considering the challenges the solution may create with existing pedagogy and technology in the classroom can ensure a smooth transition. Understanding how your district will use the technology and finding a solution for educational purposes can also help with successful integration.
A new batch of interactive flat panels or interactive whiteboards for your district can be a costly investment. Prices per unit can range from several thousand dollars to over ten thousand dollars. Your district will also need to purchase cables, with an average classroom setup requiring at least one HDMI cable per interactive display.
While many interactive displays come with an interactive pen, your district may need to purchase extra pens or remotes. Procuring a solution for your district can be more costly than expected.
Wireless screen mirroring systems allow your school district to use its existing displays and eliminate consumables like cables and pens. If your district has existing interactive flat panels in the classroom, combining them with a wireless screen mirroring solution can refresh the interactive learning experience and bring new engaging tools to the social classroom. An HD display combined with wireless screen mirroring offers a flexible and budget-friendly solution.
The traditional classroom environment relies on a simple chalkboard or whiteboard and a standard projector. It is easy to see how a traditional classroom will facilitate an interactive whiteboard setup. In many cases, district IT professionals only need to replace the standard projector with an interactive whiteboard projector and replace the chalkboard or whiteboard with an interactive whiteboard display.
Installing an interactive flat panel can be more complex, depending on the needs of each classroom. The flat panel will need to be mounted to the wall with a VESA wall mount bracket or installed on a mobile or stationary stand.
External devices will need to be in proximity of the display to connect to the flat panel using an HDMI or A/V cable. Internet-enabled interactive flat panels can connect to the school's network using a CAT5/6 cable or Wi-Fi access point.
If you already have a wireless connection and an HDTV, projector, or interactive flat panel in the classroom, installing a wireless screen mirroring solution is plug-and-play. At most, district IT professionals will need to install a wireless access point and an HD display in the classroom to implement the wireless screen mirroring solution.
When a school district invests in new technology for the classroom, training is a necessity to create an engaging learning experience. Interactive flat panels and whiteboards can include extensive functionality and features, but educators often struggle to use the technology effectively. Educators can see the interactive displays as an overpriced whiteboard or prefer to manipulate the display from a desk.
Training educators on the basics of the interactive display device requires time and resources. Improper training could mean increased help desk tickets for months after launching the new technology. Training teachers and students to use the interactive apps and tools and explore the full potential of the displays can mean hiring a trainer or representative from the vendor.
Wireless screen mirroring solutions require minimal training for educators and students to share in the social learning experience. Teachers and students use the devices they are already familiar with, and the wireless screen mirroring software operates much like an Apple TV or SMART TV. Educators can enhance their lessons by sharing their screens or student screens to the display seamlessly.
When district IT administrators decide on an interactive display solution for their district's classrooms, it is crucial to assess the software included with the solution for compatibility with existing software, lesson plans, and file formats.
The software included in interactive flat panels and interactive whiteboards is typically proprietary with little or no compatibility with open source software and proprietary applications from other vendors. District IT may need to convert lesson plans and content to new file formats and find workarounds for incompatible software.
Wireless screen mirroring solutions work with your existing devices, software, and file formats. District IT and educators will not need to convert their lesson plans and existing content to work within a proprietary software suite. Wireless screen mirroring makes the transition to new technology easier for educators, students, and district IT departments.
Maintaining interactive flat panels and wireless screen mirroring devices can require similar resources. The wireless screen mirroring device broadcasts to a flat panel or HDTV that will need to be cleaned and updated from time to time.
Replacement HDMI and A/V cables are the one factor that may increase the maintenance costs of an interactive flat panel. Wireless screen mirroring devices also provide centralized control for IT administrators, allowing for remote configuration, management, and updates.
Interactive whiteboards require increased maintenance, especially older systems that use a non-LED lamp. The projector bulbs can be costly and frequently need to be changed. The cables connecting external devices may also need to be changed occasionally.
Interactive flat panels and wireless screen mirroring solutions combined with an HDTV or flat panel display use approximately the same amount of power. Interactive whiteboards rely on a projector, which can increase power consumption dramatically. Ideally, an interactive whiteboard should use an energy-efficient LED bulb to reduce power consumption and frequency of bulb changes.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Interactive Display Solutions
Interactive whiteboards, interactive flat panels, and wireless screen mirroring solutions have distinct advantages and disadvantages. The following will highlight the benefits and drawbacks of each solution for educators, IT departments, and district administration.
The advantages of interactive whiteboards:
- Familiar appearance for teachers and students
- The classroom is likely equipped for implementation
- Enhances the learning experience
- Excites and engages students with new technology
- DLP technology allows for more accurate manipulation of the display
- LED bulbs reduce replacement expenses and energy consumption
- Requires educator training for long-term engagement
- Devices must be within proximity of the projector
- Software and devices may not be compatible
- Projector power consumption and bulb replacements can be costly
Interactive Flat Panels
The advantages of interactive flat panels:
- High-definition display
- SMART flat panels require no external sources to connect to the internet
- Enhance the learning experience with educational software and tools
- Audio and video inputs to connect to PCs, laptops, and tablets
- Easy to maintain
- Lower power consumption than most projectors
- Devices must be within proximity of the display
- Existing software and devices may not be compatible
- Replacement interactive pens can be costly
- Proper use requires training
Wireless Screen Mirroring
The advantages of wireless screen mirroring solutions:
- Works with existing displays and devices
- Share teacher and student device screens wirelessly
- Software agnostic to allow the use of most proprietary and open source applications
- Made for the educational environment
- Little or no training required
- Centralized control to push updates and display announcements
- Long-lasting technology that evolves with the social classroom
- Less expensive than most other interactive display technology
- Requires a display (HDTV, interactive flat panel, projector, digital signage)
- A nearby wireless access point with a strong signal is required
Why School IT Administrators Choose an Interactive Display Solution
School district stakeholders often ask IT departments to procure and implement an interactive display solution to improve the social learning experience, engage students, and invest in new teaching technology. Given the information provided, administrators and IT departments may settle on a solution for several reasons:
From the district's point of view and possibly the educators, interactive whiteboards are the most similar to the classroom's traditional projector and whiteboard. Familiarity makes interactive whiteboards a simple solution for many districts. It can create an interactive classroom to enhance the lesson plan; however, teachers without proper training see interactive whiteboards as little more than high-tech projectors.
While infrared interactive whiteboards could be frustrating to manipulate and write on, newer DLP technology uses intelligent pattern recognition technology to quickly and accurately interact with the whiteboard surface. Modern interactive whiteboards also use LED lamps to increase longevity and eliminate costly bulb replacements.
Interactive whiteboards are easy to install and likely work with educators' laptops or PCs already used in the classroom. Your district may already have ceiling brackets for projectors and whiteboard mounts, making the transition a simple swap.
Educators can struggle with the burden of connecting sources to the projector and using the applications included with the interactive whiteboard, resulting in increased helpdesk tickets. Replacement pens and the cost of bulbs and electricity can make interactive whiteboards unexpectedly costly for districts.
Interactive Flat Panels
Interactive flat panels have a high-resolution screen like an HDTV with the added benefit of a touchscreen for writing and manipulating the display in front of the classroom. School districts can replace their traditional and interactive whiteboards with interactive flat panels to enhance the social classroom with improved capabilities.
SMART-enabled interactive flat panels can connect to the internet to display content from the web or a network drive without connecting to an external device. Educators can also use USB flash drives or external devices with an HDMI or A/V output to share content on the interactive flat panel.
Training educators to properly connect external sources to the interactive flat panels and use the display features can burden the district IT department. The software included with the interactive flat panel may be unfamiliar to educators, and they may need to convert the file formats of their content for use with the interactive flat panel. Compatibility problems and issues resulting from inadequate training can increase IT help tickets from frustrated educators.
Wireless Screen Mirroring
Wireless screen mirroring solutions address many of the challenges that district IT departments face implementing interactive display technology into the classroom. The devices are easy to install and require little power and network bandwidth resources. They can be an inexpensive addition to existing flat panels, HDTVs, and digital signage already in the classroom and common areas of the school.
The simplicity of wireless screen mirroring devices alleviate the burden of training and reduce helpdesk tickets from frustrated educators. Wireless screen mirroring solutions allow teachers and students to bring their own devices and manipulate the display through screen sharing. Wireless screen mirroring solutions are software agnostic, allowing educators to use the applications, content, and websites they already know to enhance the learning experience.
Most educators will be familiar with the intuitive user interface if they have used an Apple TV or SMART TV at home or in the classroom. Students can share the screen of their tablet, laptop, or phone with a teacher's permission for a collaborative experience without the hassle of display and HDMI cables.
Wireless screen mirroring solutions offer secure and centralized administration for district IT using a user database to push updates and control access. They can be an effective method of distributing messages announcements, cafeteria menus, welcome messages, and emergency alerts using the school's digital signage. Wireless screen mirroring solutions increase communication and social engagement throughout the campus.
Related: The Benefits of Digital Signage in Education
The Interactive Display Solution for Your School District's Social Classroom
While there are various solutions to enhance the learning experience and create a social classroom, wireless screen mirroring is the most scalable, affordable, and easy-to-implement solution for district IT administrators. The classroom can seamlessly integrate wireless screen mirroring solutions with the devices and displays the school already uses. Minimal training is required, and wireless screen mirroring can be centrally administrated through a user database to reduce helpdesk tickets.
Vivi is a wireless screen mirroring solution for the educational environment that allows teachers to engage with students in the social classroom environment. Vivi lets the teacher and up to four students share their screens wirelessly with the teacher's permission. It allows the teacher to move throughout the classroom as they manipulate the display from a tablet or laptop and works with the devices and displays the district already uses. Book a demo and experience Vivi today.