IT Management Tools for Interactive Projectors

Interactive projectors enable presenters, instructors, and students to engage with the images they display. Depending on venues of use and individual needs, you’ll want to consider a range of possible features when procuring interactive projectors for your campus. Some current projectors allow several devices to interact with the image, while most enable presenters to swipe, write, or move the image with a stylus or simply their hands. To make the most of this emerging technology, you’ll want to consider a range of IT software tools currently on the market for use with these projectors. Here are a few key elements to look for.

Basic smartboard functions

Most interactive projectors come with basic smartboard software tools, allowing users to mark on the projected image using a pen, stylus, or finger. Look for software that includes a number of writing options — such as pen, highlighter, or marker — and a variety of pen tip widths depending on the user’s needs, along with eraser tools. If the smartboard software is installed on a connected computer, the annotated image should be easy to save as a file for later use.

Device collaboration

Depending on brand and model, many interactive projectors allow several devices to connect and collaborate at once. In small classes where students bring their own devices to work collaboratively, this capability is essential. Instructors can connect their mobile devices and instantly stream video or project images. Some software includes small-group collaboration capabilities, where several students can connect their group’s devices to work on a project and then project the results to the big screen. Collaboration capabilities also create opportunities for instructors to incorporate student polling, pop quizzes, and other interactive activities into their classes. Even in large lecture halls with hundreds of students, participants can read a question on the screen, respond via their mobile devices, and see instant poll results.

Motion-tracking capabilities

When an interactive projector is combined with a wall-mounted sensor, users can interact with images using motion-tracking software. This allows instructors to use gestures to manipulate, swipe, or move images. Depending on placement of the projector, motion-tracking software allows you to create an interactive wall, tabletop, or floor. While this feature isn’t necessary in many classrooms, it could be very helpful in others.

Handwriting recognition

Most software allows users to write on the projected surface, and some includes handwriting recognition — the ability to convert the written words into editable text. Another feature, available with some software, allows instructors to write on a real whiteboard while the projector captures and saves the image for later use, also allowing written words to be converted to text.

Looking for interactive technology for your institution? Visit Epson Higher Education today to learn more about our interactive projectors, including BrightLink interactive displays for education.

Essential Guide to EdTech Trade Shows

Conferences and trade shows focused on education technology are great places to network with other IT professionals, try out new technologies, and hear the latest news about up-and-coming developments in IT. These days, there are dozens of annual ed tech events across the country (not to mention internationally), but how do you decide which ones will yield the best return on your time and your investment for plane tickets and accommodations?

Here’s a quick run-down on five of the biggest higher ed tech events coming up in 2018:

ACCS Annual Conference – March 14–16, Virginia Beach, Virginia

The Association of Collegiate Computing Services (ACCS) of Virginia’s 2018 conference will explore the theme “Navigating the Possibilities.” Presenters from a number of institutions will share insights related to service management, cloud service security and user experience, service desk/client services, and much more. Keynotes this year will be from motivational speaker Billy Riggs and organizational expert Preston Ni. As always, the ACCS conference will include an expo with a range of higher education technology vendors on hand.

 

CUE 2018 – March 14–17, Palm Springs, California

Computer-Using Educators, a 40-year-old nonprofit organization, aims to inspire innovative learners in all disciplines from K12 through college. The organization’s conferences are some of the west coast’s premiere education technology events. Each year more than 6,000 educators gather to share ideas and learn about how the latest technology is being implemented in classrooms. Attendees can explore the CUE 2018 exhibit hall with its nearly 200 displays, select from a wide range of presentations to attend, and participate in poster sessions, where they can engage one-on-one with presenters. The conference also offers hands-on education tech training through a range of workshops that complement the sessions.

 

SUNY Tech Conference 2018, June 18–21, Lake Placid, New York

Celebrating its 25th year in 2018, the SUNY Tech Conference is hosted by the State University of New York (SUNY), a 64-campus institution that’s faced a host of technology challenges and learned the value of cross-campus collaboration to find solutions. The conference acts as an open community of IT professionals sharing ideas, exploring new technologies and seeking solutions together. The theme for 2018 is “The Ongoing Search for the Next Big Thing: the Next 25 Years of Practice.”

 

ISTE 2018 – June 24–27, Chicago, Illinois

Hosted by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), this yearly conference and expo is called “the epicenter of ed tech.” The event attracts more than 16,000 attendees, who enjoy hands-on experiences with new technology, hear a range of presenters, and connect with the brightest minds in education tech today.

 

EDUCAUSE Annual Conference 2018, October 30–November 2, Denver, Colorado

EDUCAUSE is the largest organization of higher education IT professionals, and its yearly conference features presenters from around the world and opportunities to network with colleagues from other institutions, share problems, brainstorm solutions, and interact with new technology. With more than 275 exhibitors, this conference’s expo is worth checking out.

In addition to the national conference, EDUCAUSE hosts frequent regional and online gatherings for IT professionals in higher education. Check out their events page to find an upcoming event near you.

Looking for campus technology solutions? Check out Epson’s higher education products, and be sure to connect with us at your next ed tech conference.

How Universities Are Using Wearable Technology Today for Instruction

When they hear the phrase “wearable device,” most people picture fitness wristbands, but the step-counting gadgets are just part of a larger universe of rapidly developing technology. Other wearables currently on the market include sensor-embedded clothing, smart watches, headsets and more. The public’s appetite for wearables is growing — one in six consumers already owns a device, according to a Nielsen report, and nearly half of them are young adults.

Because they’ve attracted a legion of university-age users, wearables are catching attention from a number of higher education institutions looking for ways to harness their data-collecting power and incorporate them into the classroom environment. Wearables automatically collect information about their users, motivating some researchers to look at how tracking students’ behavior, learning processes and even emotional states could improve the educational experience.

Wondering which wearables to keep an eye on? Here are the top five categories and what they could offer to students, faculty and administration in a higher education setting.

  1. VR headsets and smartglasses can provide students with in-depth sensory experiences inside (and outside) the classroom. Many institutions are experimenting with VR to create “hands-on” experiences for students in such disciplines as medicine, engineering, physics, geography, art and history. In a recent report, Gartner researchers Marty Resnick and Glenda Morgan recommend that colleges and universities pursue VR in the near future, saying that VR enhances learning, attracts and retains students and prepares them for their careers. “[We] estimate that by 2021, 60 percent of U.S.-based higher education institutions will intentionally use VR to create an enhanced simulation and learning environment,” Resnick writes. “Strategic investment in and a commitment to VR will increasingly become one of the ways that campuses will differentiate themselves in a competitive environment.”

Augmented reality (AR) smartglasses are also finding their way into university classrooms. AR blends virtual reality with the physical world, enabling a device-wearing user to look at a real object and see images and text overlaid on it. In medicine, AR has tremendous potential to assist surgeons (and their students) with locating specific anatomical areas in the operating room. In engineering, it’s being used to gamify complex concepts, making them more accessible to students.

  1. Brain-sensing headbands monitor the wearer’s brain activity, giving insights on attention span, anxiety levels and more. Researchers at the University of Victoria and New York University are exploring how the devices could be used to monitor students’ brain activity during classes, making educators more aware of what types of learning activities are holding students’ attention — and when their minds are wandering.
  2. Fitness wristbands can track students’ physical activity, movement around campus, vital signs and sleep habits, among other things. Researchers at the University of Texas’s LINK Research Lab are monitoring students’ heart rate variability and electrodermal activity (which indicates emotional responses) using smart wristbands. The goal? To study the effects of emotional responses on the body — and on the brain’s ability to learn. Other researchers are using fitness wristbands to look for links between good posture, sleep habits, and physical fitness and the ability to learn and retain information.
  3. Smartwatches have come under recent scrutiny in the higher education setting due to their potential to assist students with cheating during exams, but the devices hold a great deal of potential for learning enhancement. They could be linked directly to an institution’s student information system, allowing wearers to receive instant notifications, reminders and announcements, or they could be programmed to take a digital roll call, where students wearing them are automatically registered as “present” when they walk into their classroom or lecture hall. And some app developers are creating software that can turn smartwatches into contextual learning tools. Babbel, a popular app for language learning, can now detect the user’s location through the smartwatch’s GPS system and deliver words and phrases that match the context. For instance, if a student is studying abroad in Paris, her watch could automatically tell her how to order an espresso and a chocolate croissant when she walks into a café.
  4. Smart shirts and health sensors are extremely valuable tools for the medical field, enabling physicians and students to gather and analyze patient data in real time. Smart shirts record biometric data such as breathing, heart rates, movement types and UV levels. A host of other wireless health sensors are on the market or in development, creating the ability to remotely track everything from blood sugar to stress levels. Today’s medical students should become familiar with these emerging technologies because according to researchers, they aren’t going anywhere. Michael Snyder, professor in genetics at Stanford Medicine, envisions a world where people wear and regularly consult multiple health sensors, even when they’re not sick, enabling doctors to know their patients’ baseline biometric data and immediately recognize problems as they arise.

Only a few institutions, such as Oral Roberts University, have instated wearable usage for students across the board, but many others are investigating the potential of these emerging technologies. As part of the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution, wearables are expected to gain ground rapidly, with the market reaching 70 million device shipments through 2021. To keep pace with consumer interest and usage, it makes sense to investigate possibilities and begin to adopt this technology sooner rather than later.

Epson provides industry-leading higher education solutions for your institution that are versatile, reliable, and easy-to-use. Learn more about our complete lineup and special pricing on education products by visiting epson.com/highereducation.

4 Effective Ways to Use AR/VR Technology in Higher Education

An oceanography professor takes her students on a field trip to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean without leaving the classroom. A law lecturer creates a simulated courtroom, complete with judge, jury and evidence on display. Wearing smartglassses, a surgeon sends real-time video and commentary from the operating room to his students’ mobile devices. And a music professor uses 360-video to give students the experience of sitting in the audience at an Italian opera performance.

By engaging students with augmented and virtual reality, higher education institutions can provide in-depth learning experiences not possible in the past. These technologies are set to explode over the next several years. A 2017 report by Digi-Capital predicts that mobile AR could become the primary driver of a $108 billion AR/VR market by 2021. While the video game industry continues to spur development, AR/VR is also making inroads into classrooms around the world.

Using headsets, VR systems provide an immersive, three-dimensional experience of another space. In contrast, AR smart glasses have the ability to layer data and images over views of actual spaces. Both have the potential to enhance learning for students, particularly in such fields as healthcare, engineering and architecture, where hands-on experience is crucial. AR and VR can also powerfully engage students in humanities courses with close-up experiences of historical events, famous landmarks or great works of art.

Many institutions are watching the AR/VR revolution with interest, but they’re uncertain about when — and how — to get involved. Where are the most effective areas for colleges and universities to utilize this technology?

  1. In the classroom. Incorporating AR/VR technology into the classroom learning environment may seem like the stuff of futuristic dreams, but it’s already becoming a reality on some campuses. At Georgia State University in Atlanta, art instructor Glenn Gunhouse uses VR headsets to give students a 3-D view of art history landmarks. “What VR offers to my students is an increasingly true-to-life way of visiting places that we otherwise could not visit, either because they are very far away, or because they no longer exist,” Gunhouse said in a 2016 EDUCAUSE interview. He’s created virtual “spaces” of an ancient Egyptian tomb, a Roman temple and a medieval Italian church, among others.
  2. Online courses. Interactions between students and professors in online courses are typically limited to text-based discussion boards, emails and perhaps a live webinar with voice chat. Using VR/AR can enable more complex interactions, allowing professors to give deliver lectures and interact with students within a VR environment, as lecturer Jon Festinger has done at the University of British Columbia, Canada. VR can also allow distance students to participate in tasks “together” without actually being in the same room. Conrad Tucker, assistant professor of design and industrial engineering at the Pennsylvania State University, is working with his students to create immersive VR programs to enhance online courses in engineering. Equipped with a haptic glove and a VR headset, a student in an online course could work on building projects with classmates across the world.
  3. Institutional Marketing. Some companies are developing AR/VR technology to help universities market their programs and campus facilities to prospective students. CampusBird uses 3-D modeling to create campus maps that are also virtual tours. Institutions can use VR to present immersive campus experiences to potential students, giving them a glimpse of what it would be like to explore the research library, attend a large event, or stroll the campus greenways. And AR can provide a great way to “annotate” a real-life campus tour, directing visitors to points of interest or guiding them through the registration process.
  4. Collaborative Learning. AR/VR has a great deal of potential for use in disciplines, such as engineering, where collaborative learning is key. Textbook publishing giant Pearson anticipates an increasing market for the technology, especially in physics, chemistry and other STEM areas. Groups of students can interact with each other and build things within a VR world, creating a new way to simulate and practice tasks that might otherwise be microscopic (like exploring a DNA strand) or dangerous (such as performing open-heart surgery). AR has tremendous potential in healthcare, where it’s being used to train surgeons, teach anatomy, and more. Using smartglasses equipped with a video camera, a surgeon can utilize AR to demonstrate procedures for students in the next room — or on another continent.

While AR/VR headsets and smartglasses require an initial investment, they can provide considerable cost savings over time, especially when they replace single-use learning materials in a chemistry or anatomy lab class, for instance. And many AR/VR apps run on mobile devices such as smartphones, which most incoming students already own.

These technologies are already taking off in other sectors, and it’s only a matter of time before AR/VR becomes an expectation in higher education. With so many possible uses, institutions will want to start brainstorming how to implement them sooner rather than later.

Epson provides industry-leading higher education solutions for your institution that are versatile, reliable, and easy-to-use. Learn more about our complete lineup and special pricing on education products by visiting epson.com/highereducation.

4 Tips on Selecting the Best Classroom Display Size

If you’re in the market for a new display for your presentation space, you’ve probably considered projectors and flat-panel displays. You might have already taken a look at some projectors for teaching and concluded that a simple flat-panel display would be simpler.

While a flat panel, even as big as 70” may seem like a large enough display for most classrooms, recent research indicates visibility is compromised with “smaller” displays – even those as big as 70”. In fact, the research indicates that 58% of classroom students cannot read content on a 70” display.

Here are four areas to look at when selecting the right display size for any classroom:

  1. Potential Size of the Display – Ensuring every student can see from his/her seat is critical. A person’s ability to see is called “visual acuity,” and it’s measured using the well-recognized Snellen Eye Chart, which is based on the simple fact that something twice as far away needs to be twice as big for equivalent visibility and to achieve 20/20 vision.
  2. Optimizing Visibility – Based on the 4/6/8 Rule, a 70″ display, in a square classroom, can be seen clearly by as few as 20% of the students, leaving the other students with an inferior experience. Therefore, 40% of students will be completely outside the 8x absolute maximum viewing area, affecting their ability to see and comprehend information.
  3. The 4/6/8 Rule – The 4/6/8 Rule is a common standard for determining screen size. This rule states that, depending on the type of content being presented, there is a maximum distance the viewers can be from the display in order to see it clearly.
  4. Applying the 4/6/8 Rule – It’s typically recommended to use the “6x or smaller” multiplier to handle the variety of content shown and shared in a classroom setting.

Imaging technology has dramatically affected the experience of teaching and classroom dynamics. From a time when the primary ways to relay information were verbal, via a blackboard or overhead projector, to the current array of computers, tablets, flat screens and projectors – deciding what to select can be complicated. However the big dilemma isn’t which technology to select, but how to support the right visual environments that help staff to teach and help students learn. Engaging your classrooms can be difficult – use display size to your advantage, and carefully consider its overall impact when selecting your next technology solution.

Read on about selecting the most effective classroom display size in “Display Size Matters: Selecting the Right Display Size for Classrooms”. Learn more in this white paper about how to use the 4/6/8 rule, content implications, and choosing the optimal display size for square, wide, and deep classroom styles.