Is the display big enough?

If you’ve been paying attention over the past few years, you’ve heard us often preach about the importance of choosing a display that is large enough so everyone can read the content. Not only read it, but also understand it.

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A recent study commissioned by projector manufacturer Epson shows just how true that is—and finds  the bar is higher than many might have thought. The study—conducted by Radius Global Market Research—found that nearly 60% of children couldn’t see content on a 70-inch diagonal display in the classroom.

The Radius study asked groups of about 30 students between the ages of 12 and 22 to read what you’d normally find in a classroom environment—charts, text, etc. The room was a typical 30 x 30 classroom with five rows of six seats. The content was shown on a leading 70-inch diagonal flat panel, and the students were asked to write down six pieces of information from the content displayed. According to the results, an average of 17 out of each group of 30 students were not able to read the content as displayed.

Another bit of research points to similar problems in classroom displays. A recent white paper by Phil Edholm looked at three variations of a typical classroom: square, deep, and wide. Using the long-established 4/6/8 Rule used by the audio visual industry for determining display sizes, viewing distance should be four times the height of the screen for Analytical Viewing, six times the height for Basic Viewing, and eight times for Passive Viewing. The paper compared content viewability with 65 inch and 100 inch displays.

In the traditional deep classroom design—28 feet wide x 32 feet long for a total of 896 square feet—only 27 percent of students were within the Basic Viewing distance of six times the screen height with a 65 inch diagonal display.

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In the 30.85 feet x 30.85 feet square classroom, 93 percent of students would fall within six times the viewing distance for Basic Viewing with a 100 inch display. Only 20 percent, however, fall within Basic Viewing guidelines with a 65 inch display.

In some more modern classrooms, students are nearer the teacher thanks to a wider, less deep design. Even here, however, the 65 inch display is not a good solution. The wide classroom –44 feet wide x 22 feet deep—is 968 total square feet. In this scenario 70 percent of the seats are outside the Basic Viewing guidelines with a 65 inch display. With a 100 inch display, every seat is six times the image height or closer.

Let those numbers sink in for a minute. According to the 4/6/8 Rule, the standard for Basic Viewing says: “The student can make basic decisions from the displayed image. The decisions are not dependent on critical details within the image, but there is assimilation and retention of the information so the viewer is actively engaged with the content (e.g., information displays, presentations containing detailed images). Fonts used are usually larger and intended for a group to view. Examples: Presenting multimedia curriculum, teacher and student whiteboarding.”

And this report says that won’t happen with the majority of kids in classrooms where displays are smaller than 100 inches diagonal.

So do these two studies mean an advantage for projectors and screens?

Well … when was the last time you priced a 100 inch diagonal flat panel display? There are many projector/screen combos that are much less expensive. Plus, when a classroom is even larger, projection is much less expensive than flat panels.

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Also, don’t forget that with a flat panel it is either there all the time, in the way, or someone has to move it around. Can you imagine wheeling a heavy 100 inch flat panel through the hallways of a K-12 school? This wouldn’t be like wheeling an old 4:3 monitor around on a squeaky cart. Projection screens, meanwhile, retract into their case, freeing up useable wall space. The projectors are also either retracted into the ceiling with a motorized projector lift, mounted to the ceiling out of the way, or portable.

Projection is also very flexible. As noted in the scenarios above, classrooms aren’t all exactly the same. Size, shape, and lighting control and ambient light are all factors that will vary. With screens—such as Draper’s ISF-certified TecVision line of screen surfaces—the perfect screen for each room can be provided: a screen that will handle the ambient light, provide the necessary viewing angles, reflect the true colors, and provide a larger and more legible image with less eye strain (yes, larger screens, with less brightness poured into the room, are easier on the eyes than flat panels).

So overall, what we’ve been saying for years—that using bigger screens is better for not only seeing but for learning and retaining information—is now being backed up scientifically thanks to this report sponsored by Epson. I don’t know about you, but that makes me want to go check out my soon-to-be second grader’s classroom and find out if the screen is big enough!

To see what size and type of projection screen would work best in your classroom (or other) environment, click here to sign in to our Pro Portal, and use the Draper Projection Planner!

For more information on Epson’s recent study, you can click here.

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