Clayton County Public Schools makes DLP Projectors a Centerpiece of its 3,200 "21st Century Classrooms.
As the 113th largest school district in the United States and the fifth largest in Georgia, the Clayton County Public School System serves more than 49,000 students spread across 143 square miles, in a county that is home to more than 275,000 residents. Operating 59 separate schools, CCPS pursues an ambitious mission to deliver a broad array of services and learning options. CCPS was the first in Georgia to provide full-time counselors and instructional lead teachers at every school, including elementary schools. Students complete a challenging curriculum on every grade level such as middle school courses in algebra, computer literacy, foreign language, and vocational programs. CCPS also offers a comprehensive high school program with general, college preparatory and vocational/technical facilities.
A recipient of the Center for Digital Education's 2008 Digital Education Achievement Awards for its Internet/Intranet portal, CCPS is among the nation's leading proponents when it comes to technology adoption. The school district extends its commitment to technology advancements by providing modern audio-visual display equipment to its 3,200 classrooms.
According to Dr Angie Bacon,Chief Information Officer, Clayton County Public Schools, the mandate was to ensure the deployment of 21st Century classroom technologies. "We strive to implement technology that enhances the delivery of education in a responsible, accountable manner.Previously, each classroom had its own 20-inch television monitor to view DVD videos. These TVs were on carts and - even when moved to the center of the classroom - they were too small to be effective. So the district gradually began to accumulate a hodgepodge of projectors purchased by different departments that had secured grant monies. There were no standards, so there was an array of HP, Dell, and Sharp LCD projectors. Only a few of them were mounted - most were on carts and there were cords to the laptops, which created safety issues, of course. Teachers needed to sign up for these carts a week or two in advance to ensure availability. As a result, their use of computers and projection in the classroom involved too many compromises and limitations."
Dr. Bacon also noted that the LCD projectors presented significant maintenance and quality issues for the district. "LCD projectors required a lot of upkeep," she explained. "Our media specialist had to change the filters regularly, or else we would be out of warranty, and change bulbs that were not lasting a long time. That was a non-trivial expense for us and the work orders created a significant backlog."
The move to DLP
We researched DLP technology and - compared to what we'd experienced with LCD - it was apparent to us that DLP was a superior alternative." says Dr.Bacon. At the request of the former CIO and the district's superintendents, Dr. Bacon undertook a complete review of the video-projection market, aiming to identify and recommend a district-wide standard for classroom audio-visual display technology. The project was to be funded with allocated money over a three year period. The first decision was to choose an underlying technology standard: Texas Instruments DLP. "We researched DLP technology and - compared to what we'd experienced with LCD - it was apparent to us that DLP was a superior alternative," Dr. Bacon said. "When we wrote our RFP, we specified that DLP was our preference."
Driven by the RFP, CCPS partnered with Compu-Trac, a leading regional reseller of technology in the education market, to purchase and install ceiling-mounted DLP projectors. Dr. Bacon described, "With the XD-500, we can change bulbs while the projector is still mounted. We don't need to pull the projector down and realign it."
CCPS's first wave of installations covered 800 classrooms last year, using 85-inch projection screens to display images. This year, the district will employ an additional 1,000 installations. Next year, the final batch of 1,400 DLP projectors will be deployed to classrooms across the county.
A clearer picture for every classroom
"The picture quality is much better with DLP. There's no color fade, the contrast is sharp, and the picture is very clear - even in classrooms where we have a lot of ambient light" says Dr Bacon.
From a quality, reliability, and affordability perspective, CCPS is very pleased with the performance of the DLP technology in its classrooms. "Unlike the LCD solutions we were using, DLP doesn't present the compromises and tradeoffs we endured. First, the picture quality is much better with DLP. There's no color fade, the contrast is sharp, and the picture is very clear - even in classrooms where we have a lot of ambient light. When you're working with a word processing document or numbers in a spreadsheet, the picture remains very bright and clear from any location in the room, even on these large screens."
Dr. Bacon also noted that the sealed design of the DLP projector amounted to a far lower total cost of ownership for the district, thanks to the elimination of projector filter cleanings along with fewer bulb replacements. "Our media and maintenance people don't need to be on ladders changing filters," she said. "That alone saves us hundreds of thousands of dollars."
A new level of student engagement
According to Dr. Bacon, the pervasive, on-demand availability of audio/video in the classroom is providing new dimensions to the school curriculum. "We have extensive professional development courses for our faculty," she said. "So we're working to ensure that they're comfortable with the technology and have good options for integrating it into their classroom culture. For instance, we're showing how they can use these projectors to give what we call 'virtual field trips' to faraway places. It's creating a new level of student engagement that has our faculty excited as well."
Source: Texas Instruments