Monthly Archives: July 2011

Choosing the right AV Screen Mount for your environment

The display market and specifically the large format display market has exploded over recent years and with the introduction of interactivity by the world’s leading screen manufacturers; their applications are endless, from bed management solutions in healthcare to menu solutions in fast food stores each environment has its own challenges and requirements.

The dimensions of flat screens such as plasma and LCD allow them to be incorporated into virtually any solution and there are multitudes of mounting options that allow the screens to be seamlessly fitted into any environment.

Below are a number of the screen stands and mounting options available in the screen market and some of their benefits:

Table top Mount Stand

As seen with the majority of flat screens used in the home and office, the table top mount stand allows the screen to be positioned on any level and sufficiently strong surface such as a desk.

Table top stands offer the following benefits when used as a screen mount:

Aesthetic – Table top screen stands offer a more pleasing aesthetic finish when compared to other mounting options. However there may be a trade off with the number of people the screen is visible to due to the lower height it can be sited at.

Wall mounting bracket

Wall mounting provides a highly unobtrusive solution to positioning a flat screen.

This though may not always be an option as the installation will require secure attachment of the bracket to the wall via drilling and bolt fittings. Cables can also be hidden in wall cavities and provides a more permanent solution that better incorporates the screen into the surroundings.

Wall mounting a screen allows the following benefits:

Seamless incorporation – Wall mounting a screen gives a greater impression of permanence with all cables potentially hidden. The angle of the screen can also be adjusted so the screen can cater for the appropriate section of the room.

Lectern Mounting

More suited for smaller screens this mounting solution allows speakers to view their presentations via a seamless installation into the lectern.

Interactive lecterns can include IT connectivity for seamless presentation capabilities. They provide a neat solution, allowing presenters interactive access to presentations. Screens can also be fitted to the front of lecterns to display images such as company logos.

Having screens integrated into a lectern displays the following benefits:

Speaker reference – Lectern users can refer directly to their presentation without having to view a separate projection screen. It also gives users the ability to alter their presentation without using a separate laptop or desktop computer.

Trolley Mounts

The Trolley stand can be a versatile option allowing for the mounting of screens up to 103”.

Once mounted, the screen can be manoeuvred easily around due to the castors which can then be locked to prevent unplanned movement. Some Trolley stands can also offer minimal height adjustment via an adjustable back plate to which the screen is secured. Alternatively height adjustment can be a feature of the trolley itself. This can be a manual function or more commonly due to the size and weight of the screen an electronic function.

Trolley stands offer the following benefits when used as a screen mount:

Manoeuvrability – Trolley stands allow easy manoeuvring of the screen to the preferred location, once mounted the, screen can easily be pushed around but ideally two people should carry out this action to protect the screen from potential impacts or unstable surfaces.

Height adjustable – Once attached to the back plate of the Trolley the screen can be adjusted to the optimum height for the assembled audience. Done manually this job requires two or three people to carry out safely. Alternatively with electronic versions this is a much safer process and can quickly meet the individual height requirements of almost all users.

Shelves – Trolley stands can have an adjustable shelves mounted on the trolley itself. This allows mounting of laptops or DVD players in close proximity to the screen. If you require a shelf unit don’t forget to check that the manufacturer provides this option and if an additional charge is payable.

When deciding on the best mounting option for your chosen screen and environment, considerations including the following should be made:

Audience size – Depending on how large the audience is and how they are positioned may dictate the best stand for the job. K stands allow screens to be mounted up to a height of around 7ft which may allow unobstructed viewing for much of the audience.

Access issues – Due to their size and weight of the larger screens they can be awkward to install. Don’t forget access issues that may be present such as stairs and if lifts are to be used you will need their maximum height access for the doors and maximum weight as some larger solutions can become very heavy.

Weight –When installing any screen, irrespective of the chosen mounting option, be aware that due to their weight at least two people will be required to safely fit the unit.

Power requirements – When using your screen in conjunction with additional electrical devices such as Video Conferencing, you will need to consider the number of plug sockets required and if these are supplied as part of a trolley for example. A unit with screen, Video Conferencing and speakers will require a minimum of 3 sockets when including the trolley itself if it too has an electrical lift feature.

Security – When you consider the value of the equipment in question this can very easily reach into the £1k’s, some manufactures offer docking options for the trolley mounts. This can sometimes ensure the solutions meet the requirements of sites insurers too.

Versatility – In order that you future proof your investment, you should also consider future developments in screen technologies for example, whilst interactivity is a fairly new development in large format digital displays and stills maintains a price premium, there is no doubt that costs will come down in the future. And whilst budgets may not stretch to interactivity right now should this change in the future, electric height adjustability will almost certainly become a necessity in the future.

Accessibility – In many environments the type of user can vary dramatically each with their own individual requirements, whether this is screen height due to their age or physical restrictions or screen size due the distance from the screen or visual restrictions. Once again with interactive solutions these too have their own challenges in order that its suitable for all users.

Manufacturer’s warranty – When interactivity is part of the solution this can bring with it unique challenges, for example some screen manufacturer’s warranty is void if you use their interactive screen horizontally instead of vertically due to heat dissipation.

Using interactivity to engage a digital generation. http://tiny.cc/c4vrg

A study published by Nobel Prize winning physics professor Carl Wieman suggests that teaching methods using interactive technology can be far more effective than traditional lectures. The study confirms what many teachers know intuitively – although the question remains, what kinds of interactive technology are most effective in the classroom?

Wieman found that students who were taught physics using interactive methods at the University of British Columbia scored about twice as high when tested as those attending traditional lectures on the same material. That was true even if the lectures were delivered by far more experienced teachers.

The interactive method he used involved short, small-group discussions, demonstrations, question-answer sessions and electronic quizzes that gave instructors real-time graphic feedback on what students had and had not learned successfully.

There are six key technologies that you could use to enhance the use of your IWB…..

1. Voice amplification

University professors have been using wireless mic systems in lecture halls for many years, but research indicates that voice reinforcement can be very valuable in standard classrooms as well.

Special education teachers began the trend, finding that students with learning disabilities did a lot better in class when teachers used sound systems to moderately increase their voice levels. Further research suggests that almost anyone can benefit, whether children or adults, gifted or learning disabled, when the instructor’s voice is reinforced.

2. Unified Classroom Communications

The influx of tablets highlights a trend toward unified technologies that combine collaboration, streaming and other educational applications into single or closely-related systems.

For example, the Promethean ActivClassroom, ties learner response systems and voice reinforcement to interactive whiteboards and an open source library of educational software and activities.

3. Student response systems.

An important advantage for Weiman’s instructors was the student response system he used, in essence each gives an instructor the ability to ask a multiple choice or true/false question during class and get immediate feedback on pupil comprehension. If the percentage of  who answered correctly is high, it’s time to move on to new material. If it’s low, the instructor can spend more time on the topic. It’s a simple idea, but as the Weiman research shows, it can be extremely powerful.

4. Collaborative learning.

Weiman also put an emphasis on small-group discussion during class time. One trend we’re seeing is the use of collaborative learning systems to enhance group activities.

For example, students working on laptops plugged into the network can each take over a shared machine with a large-screen display, collaborating on documents, opening websites, sharing files or making presentations to the full class. This also means pupils can work together from different locations in a distance learning environment. An example of this is SMART’s Bridgit software to provide similar capabilities. Bridgit allows students to share screens, voice and video and work on shared documents, whether together in a classroom or across a distance learning connection. The great power of collaborative systems is engagement. Used thoughtfully, they can help students pay more attention in class and take ownership of the material they are asked to learn.

5.  E-books and tablet PCs

As the price of e-book readers and some tablets have fallen dramatically, along with the move of written classroom materials to an electronic format pupils will use e-readers to access webcasts, input answers into response systems, and collaborate in many ways. As we progress towards the utopia of one device per pupil

6. Recording and streaming

More and more teachers are adding cameras and microphones to classrooms to record or even stream video to pupils. Recording classes for students who can’t be present or those who would like to review difficult material they have covered that day.

Traditional teaching methods aren’t dead but interactivity offers teachers the opportunity to enhance their teaching and engage a digital generation, there’s much to gain from thoughtful use of these six core technologies.

 

Choosing the Best IT security option for your Environment

The security measures described in this post have been proven to be effective in use when properly implemented and used in conjunction with other measures such as normal building security.

Although generally supported and recommended by Police and Insurers, as with all security measures the ultimate responsibility rests with the user to ensure that the options chosen are appropriate for the environment in which they will be used.

A number of inexpensive products are available to physically restrict access to, or prevent the unauthorised removal of individual items of equipment.

Designed for use in conjunction with existing building security measures, when installed and used properly such products offer an excellent second line of defence against the thief and your Insurers or Local Crime Prevention Officer will be pleased to offer advice on what may be suitable for your environment and to provide details of reputable suppliers.

For convenience it will be helpful to consider the available options under the following headings:

SecureContainers

Traditional safes and locked stationery cabinets can be used to protect equipment against theft, however these units generally offer no more than a secure overnight storage area for equipment and are therefore of limited practical use – the physical action of repeatedly plugging together and unplugging electrical connectors is likely to result in early failure of the contact points.

Specialist ‘enclosure’ systems for items such as PC’s and projectors are available at a fraction of the cost of a good safe.

These will typically allow such items to be secured in place, preventing unauthorised removal of the equipment but allowing access to all main controls even whilst the unit is secured.

Enclosures are normally designed to attach directly to the desk or floor via screw or bolt fixings and can facilitate individual PC’s and towers to multiple individual compartments to multiple group storage. Mobile trolley type multi-storage modules for laptops are also becoming increasingly popular.

PC’s and Towers

Individual PC’s and towers can be contained in a variety of different ways, from fixed to the floor, on top of the desk, the side of the desk, under the desk to even capturing the flat screen with the PC in one.

Laptops

Laptop Computers have a high initial value and are popular targets for thieves. They command a high second user value as they are readily disposable on the second hand market. In all probability a stolen unit will also have at least some personal data stored on the hard drive which could be embarrassing or commercially costly should an external party gain access to it and could possibly even lead to prosecution under the Data Protection Act. Individual Laptop Security is broken down into multiple options.

In Car Laptop Security – essentially a safe large enough to accommodate a laptop bag which is secured in the boot of the car, either by fixing directly to the chassis or by using no damage heavy duty tethers. Easy access hinges and locking is preferred to allow quick access and security.

Individual Laptop Security (Shared Spaces) may be an individual box provided in a system which can be expanded by adding and securing additional boxes into a unit. Alternatively, individual laptop security may be in the form of a cabinet which has hinged doors. These usually come in a pre-set number of compartments.

Individual Coin-Operated Laptop Security and Charging in Public Spaces. Individual laptops can be secured in public spaces using coin-operated cabinets. These allow storage and charging facilities in public spaces and the cost charged by the owner for storage and re-charging, contributes towards the electricity used. The coin-operated facility normally comes in a bank of units, allowing convenient storage and good fixing against a wall.

Group Laptop Security and Charging may provided by Laptop Cabinets which are secured by one door. The cabinets have multiple shelves inside and may incorporate charging facilities and networking solutions. It is important to remember that power surges may be caused by the owner turning the units on at once – 30 laptops starting at one time may trip the mains electricity. A phased or ‘soft start’ system is essential, as well as surge protection from external sources.

Laptop Cabinets (Fixed or Mobile)

Fixed cabinets are similar in size to a standard filing cabinet and therefore fit nicely in an office environment. They are used where compartments are allocated on a permanent basis for the use of one room. Fixed laptop cabinets are available in a large variety of sizes.

Mobile Laptop Trolleys are generally used to secure laptop computers when they are being shared by user groups, i.e. 16 or 32 compartment laptop trolleys being wheeled between classrooms or in training centres. They are available in a large range of sizes.

Advantages of these are numerous when dealing with large numbers of laptops, and can facilitate charging and networking whilst locked in the cabinet. The trolley itself may be secured via a docking system attached to the fabric of the building.

An obvious advantage of a specialist enclosure system is that in addition to the equipment being secured against unauthorised removal, access to internal components (such as PC expansion boards, memory, etc.) is also prevented. Check the trolley base and wheels for durability. Heavy duty chassis and trolley wheels will be able to withstand the rigours of regular transportation.