Size Matters: Why the education industry needs to take screen size seriously

Projectors and the screen size revolution

Size Matters: Why the education industry needs to take screen size seriously

Visual communication technologies – such as projectors and flat panels - are revolutionising the way education is delivered in schools and universities because of the way information is retained by today’s students. According to the World Health Organisation, 80% of educational material is remembered by visual means and 90% through interactive lessons, compared to just 25% retained from one-way verbal lectures. As the traditional delivery of education diminishes and digitisation  (spending more time indoors and on onscreen) increases, as does the effect on an individuals’ eye-sight. In fact, there has been a dramatic increase in myopia (short-sightedness) among half of Europe’s young adults – double the total amount 50 years ago.

Yet, despite the established link between the two, schools today are missing a vital ingredient when it comes to proper screen usage.

There are two choices when it comes to screen-teaching in schools: flat screen panels and projectors. Although an increasing number of schools are starting to implement flat screen panels because of the market perception that they are more beneficial, in fact, research shows that 58% of students cannot read a 70inch flat panel. Therefore, projectors should increasingly move to front of mind for education decision makers. The fact is, projectors are a far more responsible and flexible choice. However, despite the global interactive projector market being expected to grow at a CAGR of around 27% from 2016-2020, there is still no Europe wide legislation in place. Instead the education industry relies on widely accepted guidelines on how this technology should be used in the classroom to ensure it is fit for purpose.

Projectors today are incredibly advanced, not only performing with super high quality and colour-brightness, but also incorporating connectivity allowing for BYOD interaction, interactive sensing and touch technologies, and bigger distortion-free projection. In addition, they are more portable and take up much less space when not in use, with the screen able to be hidden away. However, despite the benefits, there are still potential risks involved – in using either technology – if standards for room size, number of people in a classroom and screen size are not proper implemented. It is imperative for technology decision makers to implement a well thought out strategy when analysing classroom requirements in order to purchase technology fit for the purpose.

As market leader in projectors for the past 13 years and working closely with a range of schools and training institutions, Epson knows how vision of projected information and images from the front to the back of the classroom affects learning outcomes. As part of our CSR efforts, Epson is constantly pushing the boundaries to ensure our products truly meet user needs. We recognise the need for clear recommendations and work with partners to ensure the correct screen size for content to ensure it is not too small, of high quality and clearly visible, taking into consideration viewing distance from the screen and giving everyone the same opportunity to engage and share information.  Today’s learning methods are no longer just a case of one person presenting to a group of students. Instead, students are presenting to other students as well as using screens to work collaboratively throughout the wider group. Therefore, classrooms require a planning process to facilitate appropriate integration of technology.

Despite no overall legislation in place, there currently exist several guiding practices which should be followed in order to enable minimal impact on both learning capacity and eyesight of students.

According to guidelines set out by the University of South Wales in their report entitled Audio Visual and Teaching Space Guidelines , the bottom of the screen should be no lower than 1.2m from the floor. The minimum distance between the first row and the screen, is twice the screen height. The minimum screen width should be the same as the distance between the closest viewer and the screen. The maximum horizontal and vertical viewing angle is considered to be 45 degrees and 30 degrees respectively.

Taking it one step further, guidelines are also in place for the type of information being viewed in a classroom setting. The widely accepted 4-6-8 rule is based on the recommendations of research bodies and regulatory bodies and states that, the furthest participant in the room from the screen is recommended to sit 4-6-8 times the vertical height of the screen, dependant on the task being performed. “Passive viewing” (e.g. video viewing), can be the furthest away, followed by “detailed viewing” (e.g. general reading of presentations), and “inspection viewing” (e.g. small text and spreadsheet content) whereby the furthest participant can be no further than four times the vertical height of the screen.

According to the Smart Cube report, numerous factors come into play when ascertaining the size of the screen including ceiling height, length and width of room, number of people in the room and budget available. Clearly, this impacts the buying choice between flat panel and projector screen. And, although there are no universally recognised standards for screen size, only guidelines, it cannot be disputed: the larger the screen the more information is retained and comprehended by the classroom audience. Consequently, the education sector – in order to enable maximum learning potential and minimum health impact- should more regularly be choosing projectors over flat panel screens. 

It is clear that when it comes to projector screens, size does in fact matter.

For more information please visit: www.epson.co.uk/education

1 World Health Organisation (WHO)

2 Nature.com 2015

3 Epson whitepaper

4 TechNavio, 2016

5 The Smart Cube, Epson Digital Displays: Display Size Relative to Distance, 12 August 2016