Dec 21 2023

Classroom Flat-Panel Trends Are Reshaping How Kids Learn

Updates to popular audiovisual technology could bring lasting change to teaching and device purchasing in K–12 schools.

Until a few months ago, Google’s Android was virtually the only operating system available for teachers using interactive displays in their classrooms.

You probably wouldn’t have been able to tell just by looking at the displays: Touch-screen display manufacturers can design their own user interfaces, creating a unique look and feel that masks this reality.

But that’s all starting to change, thanks to a growing number of schools asking for interactive screens without operating systems — in essence, the supersized equivalent of buying a large-screen monitor that works only when connected to a computer.

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Teachers note that they’re not using a lot of the built-in features of OS-based displays, and the Android system loses security updates after a few years.

That’s causing problems for schools working to keep devices both secure and integrated into an enterprise-level network, forcing them to replace expensive hardware sooner than they otherwise might. But new developments in the interactive flat-panel market could change things.

Flat-Panel Standardization Through a New Manufacturing Certification

The launch of Android 13, which carries Google’s Enterprise Devices Licensing Agreement certification, marks an end to the flexibility that allowed manufacturers such as Newline refine their operating systems to appear different from those produced by rivals, such as ViewSonic.  Manufacturers will still be able to tweak the appearance of Android, but the main layout will be the same for everyone.

Now, interfaces powered by EDLA Android 13 and the next version, Android 14, will look almost identical to each other — much like interfaces on laptops powered by ChromeOS do now.

These changes mean that interactive display makers must find new ways to distinguish themselves in the marketplace.

RELATED: Districts are using upgraded audiovisual tools to improve learning.

Two places they’re likely to start are pricing and the software for engagement and lesson creation that accompanies their products.

Benefits of EDLA Certification for Classroom Displays

EDLA certification brings new possibilities to interactive display users in K–12 schools. Teachers gain access to certified Google applications such as Chrome and Docs, plus access to the full Google Play store.

IT admins in the school, meanwhile, can manage all of the devices in the Google Admin Console if they so choose. 

The certification also means that the devices will get direct updates from Google, including crucial security updates. This ensures that new displays will be safe, secure and reliable, no matter which manufacturer schools choose for their learning environments. They won’t be forced to pick based on the tech’s operating system, or lack thereof.

Flexibility and Security in Non-OS Flat Panels

Another trend in classroom audiovisual technology is the rise of non-OS panels.

Most manufacturers are providing slot-in capabilities. This means that users can take a non-OS touch device, slot Android into it and make it like the embedded version of the display that was available year ago.

If it loses security updates or the operating system slows down, they can swap in a new system, and they’ll be ready to go.

Interactive touch-screens produced independently of an operating system allow schools to make regular updates to software, which becomes obsolete far more quickly than the display screens it powers, instead of having to replace the entire device.

KEEP READING: Look for these three digital signage trends.

An added benefit is that non-OS displays have the potential to make school systems’ technology management significantly more sustainable, since schools basically upgrade to brand-new systems each time they swap out the brains of such devices.

Promethean has become the first of the major display makers to build a so-called non-OS model, and ViewSonic recently followed suit with its non-OS display, the G1. Rivals such as SMART Technologies aren’t far behind, and Samsung is likely to compete in the category too.

Promethean says that its product, the ActivPanel LX, can be plugged into a laptop with a single USB-C cable, displaying the unit’s screen to an entire classroom. It can also be paired with a computing module that fits a school’s preferred ecosystem, whether that’s Google Chrome, Windows or Android.

That flexibility is one of the big payoffs from investing in non-OS displays, which are arriving at the same time that Android is leveling the playing field for interactive flat panel users with its release of EDLA.

This article is part of the ConnectIT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #ConnectIT hashtag.

[title]Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology

Drazen Zigic / Getty Images

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