Bonny Slope’s 28 classroom and specialist projectors received a complete overhaul and technological upgrade this school year, thanks to the overwhelming generosity of our BSCO donors and the time and patience of our BSE technology team.
Like your computer, projectors have a useful life and then need to be replaced. Our Bonny Slope classroom projectors, installed by the Beaverton School District when the school opened ten years ago, are no exception.
The District went through a lot of expense to install them. They ran cabling through the floors and walls of the classrooms and down through the ceiling tiles. This connected the document projectors and teacher computers to the projector, which was the standard at the time. They installed electrical outlets right by the projectors as well.
The District even anticipated that these connectors would change. While expensive, the ends of the cabling could be swapped for other types of connectors. The installed connectors were VGA, the same connectors populating every conference room in the United States and the standard on every projector at the time. But they knew the standard would change and anticipated that.
Time passes and technology ages. In some classes, the projection was too weak to be seen with the lights on. In others, the projected image had a sickly pink hue or the projectors were installed too close to the screen, causing the projected images to take up a tiny portion of the available space.
While all the cables still exist and work, the District could not have predicted that we would not need cables at all. iPads, which weren’t even invented at the time the projectors were installed, could wirelessly stream to new projectors with the help of a simple and relatively inexpensive Apple TV, which was announced while Bonny Slope was being built.
Funding a Solution
Last spring, your BSCO Board was looking for a special project for the next school year. The projector in the gym, a major project that the District was intimately involved with, was finally in and a success. The logical successor was the classroom projectors.
Funding for this classroom projector upgrade was approved at the May 2017 community meeting. The Board handed the project to Elia Freedman, a BSE parent and BSCO’s technology advisor.
“I knew nothing about projectors,” said Freedman, who has served as BSCO’s tech advisor for the past six school years. “But I learned quickly and identified a few models that might work amongst what seemed like thousands of available models. While I didn’t know projectors, I did understand what the teachers needed, where the old ones fell down, and what was possible now that we had iPads everywhere in the school.”
It was important to start slowly. After all, each projector could be a thousand dollars and mistakes would cost BSCO a lot of money. Freedman teamed up with Jacob Whitehead, Bonny Slope’s physical education teacher.
“We identified two teachers, Mr. Basham and Mr. Traller, who were technology savvy,” continued Freedman. “We also wanted two teachers next to each other to make sure the Apple TVs didn’t interfere with each other. We bought two projectors, supplied by BenQ, and two Apple TVs."
“We successfully avoided a lengthy install time and process with the District as we were able to reuse the posts already installed. Doug McNeill and Teresa Klassy [BSD’s technology support specialists] set up the devices, and then we gave the teachers time to play with them to make sure these were the right ones and that all the technology would play nice together.”
Two weeks before winter break, the experiment was deemed successful. “We had a sense that these projectors were capable and bought additional cabling to hook up the existing classroom speakers to the projectors as well,” Freedman shared.
After winter break, projectors, Apple TVs, and cables were ordered. As of this writing only a few remain to be received and installed.
Huge Classroom Advantages
This new wireless set-up comes with some incredible advantages. A teacher can move around the classroom with just an iPad, send video from his or her own laptop, and the class could see it even with the lights on and hear it without issue. Students can also send to the projector from their Chromebooks and iPads.
Another benefit: the cost was low enough that BSCO could outfit the entire school, including specialists, with new projectors within the allotted budget. What was originally considered a two year process to replace all projectors became a single year project instead.
“Teachers I have talked to are loving how bright they are and the ability to present wirelessly while moving around their room,” said Jacob Whitehead. “They are even jamming out during brain boosts with their RedCat hooked into the projector for audio.”
Of course with new technology comes new possibility. With the confluence of these new projectors, the Apple TVs, MacBooks, iPads and Chromebooks in the classroom, much of which has been supplied with BSCO dollars over the past six years, our teachers are able to do new and interesting things in the classroom that would not have been possible without your BSCO donations.