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Projector technology has come a long way, from the “Magic Lantern” of the late 1800s to the overhead projectors that generations of students grew up with throughout most of the 20th century.(1)

While projectors are tools teachers can use to demonstrate a concept clearly and efficiently to an entire classroom, they fall short in effectively engaging students. Even the most compelling educator can struggle to hold their students’ attention in today’s digital landscape, where the educational experience is expected to be immersive and interactive.

Many schools recognize that keeping students engaged can help improve learning outcomes and turn to newer technologies, such as interactive flat panel displays (IFPs), to achieve this goal.


Limitless Interactivity and Innovation

Unlike projectors, IFPs feature high-quality displays optimized for interactivity, versatile connectivity options and built-in software teachers can use to create collaborative lessons that motivate and engage learners.(2)

The emergence of digital learning has been a significant factor in the growing demand for IFPs. Schools are investing in this technology because of its potential to propel student engagement. IFPs enable teachers to incorporate videos and online content to convey information in several ways, keeping students captivated by the lesson more than a typical lecture.(3) Students can also interact directly with the panel – moving diagrams around, writing on it or participating in real-time quizzes – which can help boost engagement levels.

Teachers can even use IFPs to gamify their lessons, such as having students participate in “Jeopardy!” to prepare for an exam or playing games like bingo and Scrabble to learn vocabulary and spelling.(4)

With nearly limitless opportunities for interactive and innovative learning, it’s no surprise that schools are phasing out projectors in favor of IFPs.


Student Engagement at Your Fingertips

Because of their connectivity and interactivity, IFPs are an excellent fit for many classrooms and learners from kindergarten through high school and beyond. They can do so much more than a typical blackboard and projector, including:

  • Fully Digital Lessons: Teachers can access their saved lesson materials on their hard drive or cloud storage and display them on an IFP, eliminating the need for paper copies.
  • Behavior Management: Web-based classroom-management systems can keep students focused by providing instant gratification, on display for all to see, for staying on task.
  • Peer Proofreading: Teachers can involve the entire class in editing a writing assignment using different colored pens to make edits.
  • Learning Alongside Other Students: With Google Meet available through Google Workspace for Education, students can collaborate with a class across town or on the other side of the world.(5)
  • Virtual Field Trips: The pandemic has put in-person field trips on pause, but IFPs make it possible for students to ‘visit’ nearly any place in the world – from the Great Wall of China to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.(6)
  • Using Maps: Google’s Geo Tools can help students learn about geography, history, ecology and more.(7)


Interactive Panel Vs. Interactive Projector

IFPs aren’t the only interactive technology available. Some schools have opted for interactive projectors because of their lower initial cost. However, many districts, like Dallas Independent School District in Texas, want a more durable, higher-quality option and are switching to IFPs after years of using interactive projectors.

Other school districts that typically relied on SMART Board® interactive displays have transitioned to IFPs, as their original SMART Boards have reached the end of their lifespan, and schools cannot obtain replacement parts.


Choosing The Right Panel For Your Needs

With dozens of IFP options available, evaluating how they will be used is essential. This will help you decide which panel is the best investment for your school.

Some considerations to keep in mind:

  • Display Differences: LED and LCD monitors use liquid crystals to create images. LCDs use fluorescent backlights, while LEDs use light-emitting diodes. LED displays typically produce superior picture quality and usually have a longer lifespan than LCDs.(8)
  • Picture Quality: Ultra-high-definition (UHD or 4K) displays have four times as many pixels as high-definition (HD) displays and can be more expensive. Depending on how the panel will be used, it may be worth the added cost.
  • Connection Types: High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) inputs carry audio and video, while Video Graphics Array (VGA) connectors require a corresponding stereo analog audio input.
  • Classroom Size: The screen should be large enough for students in the back of the room to read a 20-pt font.
  • Touch Capabilities: A screen with several touchpoints allows multiple students to engage with it simultaneously.
  • Software Options: IFPs typically come equipped with manufacturer-included software, but you can select other programs to fit educators’ and students’ needs.


Driving Engagement With IFPs

Whether you’re looking for a top-of-the-line panel that can withstand the daily stressors of a classroom or a mobile display that’s easily transportable, IFPs are an investment worth the cost if you’re aiming to increase student engagement. They offer nearly unlimited learning potential and equip teachers to deliver more opportunities for collaboration.

Interested in learning more? Discover ideas for using IFPs to improve learning outcomes and get tips for building a digitally responsive educational organization.



  1. Betsy Streisand and Dan Abendschein. 2014, May 09. History of Technology Timeline [Article]
  2. Cuizon, M. 2021, March 02. Four Key Features of Collaborative Software [Blog Post]
  3. Editorial Team. Is the Interactive Whiteboard a Good Replacement for the Classroom Blackboard? [Blog Post]
  4. Haiken, M. 2021, February 12. 5 Ways to Gamify Your Classroom [Blog Post]
  5. Google. How to Video Conference With Google Meet [Advertisement]
  6. Fink, K. 2020, March 18. 25+ Amazing Educational Virtual Field Trips [Blog Post]
  7. Google. Experience and Create Stories About the World [Advertisement]
  8. Cabading, Z. 2020, May 11. How to Know the Differences Between an LED Display and LCD Monitor [Article]

Interested in Learning More?

Discover ideas for using IFPs to improve learning outcomes and get tips for building a digitally responsive educational organization.