As we return to school after a prolonged absence, I have taken the opportunity to upgrade some of the ICT facilities around our school. Over the years we have installed Interactive White Boards in all our classrooms. However, many of these are now showing their age and thoughts have now turned to upgrading to IFP’s (Interactive Flat Panels.)

As a principal the main barrier to the upgrade to the Interactive Flat Panel was the cost. Over the last five years, the prices have fallen to a level where the cost of an Interactive Flat Panel is almost the same as a combination of Interactive Whiteboard, Projector and Installation. This has prompted many manufacturers, to discontinue their Interactive Whiteboards in favour of the flat panel technology. The flat panel technologies have many advantages to offer over its Interactive Whiteboard predecessor. There’s no shadow, as the image is coming from the panel itself rather than a projector. For many units there are no drivers. The units are much brighter and don’t fade so no need to close the blinds!
Modern IFP’s, last for around 50,000 hours, have very few serviceable parts, and to top it all off, most don’t need calibrating.

Image brightness does not fade over time, and so classrooms can remain bright – supporting a more appropriate learning environment. Flat screen LED technology uses relatively less power than projectors and there is no noise factor. Warranty is typically 5 years which makes the initial cost more bearable.

In short, the Interactive Flat Panels will last longer and ultimately have a lower cost of ownership than the Interactive White Boards they are replacing. They’re also much easier to install.

The units I opted for came with up to 20 touch points. This number reflects how many different points the screen sees at any one time , i.e on a 20 point touch panel it can recognise up to 20 fingers touching 20 separate points at the same time. This ensures that you can future proof most software applications and allows for multiple children and teachers to use the screen at the same time. This can be useful where Students are solving problems together or other collaboration at the board. The built-in interactive software provides an intuitive walk-up-and-use experience, it makes technology simple and accessible to all ages and backgrounds.

Many of the new IFP’s come with an Android Computer built into the screen and this allows for access to the Android play store on Google and gives your school access to over 100,000 apps for maths , science , history etc , many for free. Many also come with built in wifi and hard drive capabilities so can operate without a connected laptop/computer. The units we opted for wirelessly screen shares your iPhone, iPad, Android phone and tablet, Mac and Windows laptop or PC to your touch screen.

It may take a while and of course future IT grants from the Department to allow us complete the upgrade from interactive boards to Interactive Flat Panels but it will be worth the wait.

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