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As a senior leader and governor that’s the one question I have to keep asking.
Everyone wants something and there is always a latest ‘must have’, but as a school we definitely don’t have money to burn.
We’d like to think of ourselves as a connected school helping students be future-ready, but the reality is we are a school on a shoestring budget constantly searching for best value.
Price point is extremely important to us when we are thinking school-wide investment.
Resource requests are never-ending and there are lots of things we need all pushing and shoving to get to the front of the queue.
School projectors are definitely on our radar and we’d be mad not to replace the ones we’ve got. They are old, increasingly unreliable and expensive to keep going so it’s definitely time to pull the plug, upgrade and go upmarket.
The problem is, when you haven’t dipped your toes in the tech waters of the projector world for a few years it’s easy to get bitten.
‘Next generation’ and ‘state of the art’ can quickly become ‘yesteryear’ and ‘museum piece’ – and that’s exactly where we went wrong last time we invested.
There is so much choice now, where do we start?
We always take a peek over the fence of our neighbouring schools and it seems like they are well ahead of us now and they are all using Casio equipment.
We have a few teachers who are keen to remind us that Casio is a safe bet, and a couple used them in schools they previously worked at and rave about them. My research tells me they aren’t wrong.
Last year Casio Projectors took home the AV Award for its Core XJ-V1 model impressing the judges with “its affordability and ease of use, without compromising on the quality of the image or brightness, all while remaining completely lamp-free.”
This is the sort of evidence we look for when buying new.
I’m no expert but my Network Manager tells me the AV Awards are the most celebrated and highly-regarded events in the industry so this award was a biggy – Casio must be doing something right. Apparently it holds 88% of the market share and its projector range has been completely lamp-free since 2010.
I can’t bring myself to add up the amount of money we’ve spent in the last seven years buying new lamps and filters for our old battle-weary soldier projectors. If only we’d bought Casio, we’d have saved a fortune! The hidden extras involved in maintaining our old fleet of projectors has been a steep learning curve.
Digging a bit deeper into the award-winning model, it was easy to see why the Core XJ-V1 was smiling so much:
What also really appeals to us is that this projector can be easily refitted to existing installations so we don’t have to worry about further costs associated with a replacement overhaul.
Our teaching staff can’t really do their jobs these days without a projector so we know that everyone will benefit from a long-term technology solution. What we basically want is high-quality, sustainable projection – our school Eco Club and School Council keep making this point too.
Pupil voice plays a significant role in our decision-making process and they quite rightly tell us that our green credentials need to be elevated into the 21st century.
If we use old equipment using lamps filled with mercury, how can we teach them about safety and sustainability! Our Green Policy looks very embarrassed because we are struggling to reduce energy and carbon overheads with old stock.
There’s no doubt that our pupils deserve better. In a recent survey we conducted about the use of technology across the school, pupils told us what they thought about our projectors.
They told us they didn’t like lessons where teachers have to turn off all the lights and close the blinds because they found it hard to use their books!
They said that when teachers didn’t do this then the images lacked colour and clarity and there was glare on the whiteboard.
They complained that a lot of time was wasted with teachers adjusting projector settings so that the whole class could see lessons properly.
They said that the projectors kept breaking down and that even replacement lamps didn’t last long!
They also said that the projectors we use have quite noisy fans.
We’ve soon come to realise that what we are using is actually acting as an obstacle to their learning.
All of our teachers complain that the projectors we use don’t work as part of a team because they don’t work with other classroom tools.
From a ‘principles of best value’ approach, our ICT Focus Group set demanding challenges in its business case to meet our requirements. We are looking for reliability, ease of use, high performance, something to enhance the classroom experience, colour purity, Eco credentials, value for money and low total cost of ownership – our budgets can’t be squeezed any further!
We want the right products, at the right price with the right service. Nothing is getting close to what Casio is offering and it is clear that everything has been designed from the ground up with education in mind.
But Casio hasn’t made this easy for us either, as it has plenty of projectors to choose from in its lamp-free family!
One of our teachers tells me we should also be looking seriously at short-throw projectors, as “these are the best thing since sliced bread!”
The Casio Ultra Short Throw projectors can sit just a few inches back from a screen and fill it with big picture quality and image sharpness.
They don’t blind everyone, they reduce shadows, they enable PC free presenting and are highly energy efficient.
What I also like about these projectors is that they are ideal for using where space is limited, as many of our classrooms are ‘square footage-challenged’ to say the least.
Less room between projector and screen also means less room for pupils to get in the way! And another big plus is that teachers and students can interact with the images without the need for additional devices.
But, we also need something for the bigger spaces in the school, especially for presentations, assemblies, ceremonies and gatherings, which is why we are looking at Casio’s new large-venue model, the XJ-L8300HN, equipped with 4k Ultra HD resolution.
Before the senior leadership team and governors sanction any spending, though, there is of course one individual who has a critical say in what we ultimately go for, and his input is crucial.
Teachwire sponsored, by John Dabell
Why not check out Part 1 looking at the everyday benefits of projectors in the classroom for teachers or Part 3, looking at the intricacies of projectors and their benefits for Network Managers?
In the meantime, to check how much your school could save by switching to lamp-free, use Casio’s total cost of ownership calculator to help crunch the numbers.
For more information and videos visit casio.co.uk/projectors.
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