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Hands-on Learning at Des Moines Public Schools: Epson BrightLink Finger-touch Interactive Projector in all K-5 Classrooms

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Hands-on Learning at Des Moines Public Schools: Epson BrightLink Finger-touch Interactive Projector in all K-5 Classrooms
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A common perception is the bigger the school district, the longer it takes to get things accomplished. Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS), the largest public school district in Iowa serving 32,000 students, proved this is not always the case. In 10 months, DMPS successfully installed an Epson BrightLink® 595Wi finger-touch, ultra-short throw interactive projector in each K-5 classroom, as well as in some upper grade classrooms, totaling 703 projectors in 45 buildings.

Before teachers and students throughout DMPS started using the Epson interactive projectors, the district’s challenge was how to manage technology when so many classrooms were equipped with different technology tools. “We were trying to train teachers to use technology, but every classroom they walked into was different,” said Jeremiah Starr, elementary instructional technology coordinator.

Cue the BrightLink 595Wi

The time came for DMPS to standardize the technology equipment in each K-5 school classroom. “After evaluating other projectors, the BrightLink 595Wi really stood out,” said Starr. “Its finger-touch interactivity and 3LCD, 3-chip technology with bright, vibrant colors was a big factor in moving forward with the implementation.”

The plan was to install a BrightLink 595Wi in each K-5 classroom, along with seven notebook computers, a document camera and SMART Notebook™ software for collaborative learning. DMPS also rolled out the new math curriculum, Go Math! from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Used with the projector, these interactive lessons transform students into active learners, encouraging them to get out of their seats and interact in the classroom. A typical class might begin with an engaging video and then jump to an interactive lesson using the projector.

Full Speed Ahead

“We had a sense of urgency to put our new standard in place as soon as possible,” said Starr. Once DMPS approved its technology plan, he and a facilities department member walked through 600-plus classrooms, determining what needed to be replaced. They mapped out the best locations for installing the new projectors in each classroom, which were located in school buildings that were built as early as pre- World War I.

“It was about being proactive on the front end,” said Starr. “Can we put a projector in this room? With the BrightLink, it turned out to be easy, but we still had to sometimes troubleshoot to find what’s behind a wall or the best placement in our older classrooms.

For the best visibility, Starr’s installation team positioned most BrightLink 595Wi projectors in the front of the room on the largest whiteboard, although the projector has the flexibility to make any smooth surface interactive. Mounted up to 12.2” from the board, the ultra-short throw BrightLink 595Wi allows teachers to project large, interactive WXGA (1280x800 resolution) images as large as 100” diagonal without shadow interference.

Teacher Preparation

Though location is important, the groundwork was not just determining where to put the projector or how to run electrical and Ethernet cords to the board. A big part of the rollout was prepping the teachers who would use the technology in their classrooms that coming school year.

To do so, DMPS had professional development briefings to familiarize teachers with their new collaborative classrooms. Educators also have ongoing access to the Knowledge for Integrating Technology In Education (KITE) project, an online gamified learning platform offering flipped professional development courses.

Touch-enabled 3LCD Interactive Learning

With the BrightLink 595Wi, K-5 classrooms at DMPS now have interactive lessons allowing students to go to the board and actively participate in their own learning. The teacher may start with an introductory lesson and then divide the class into separate clusters interacting with the technology. The touch-enabled projector supports gestures, up to six fingers for annotations, and dual pen support with interactive pens for classroom collaboration.

Students from all parts of the classroom now see a larger projected image. With 3LCD, 3-chip technology for brilliant, true-to-life color, the BrightLink 595Wi has 3,300 lumens of color brightness and 3,300 lumens of white brightness.1 Teachers also use the Epson iProjection™ app with their smartphones or tablets to wirelessly project content during lessons. The projector has built-in Moderator device management software allowing up to 50 devices to be connected via the network for more control.

“The district was able to install hundreds of BrightLink 595Wi projectors in all K-5 classrooms in only 10 months, from the first demo to final installation,” said Starr. “An urban school district of our size needs consistency across the board, as well as a highly reliable, cost-effective solution. With the same projector in each classroom, we are making a smooth transition to collaborative technology for all our K-5 students.”