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Casio projectors create a special outdoor learning experience for Brum college students

Hunters Hill College, a residential school in Bromsgrove for students with special needs takes learning outside of the classroom using short throw projectors

In a bid to enhance the learning experience for its pupils, Hunters Hill College in Bromsgrove has collaborated with teacher and founder of MakerLabs, James Hannam to bring interactive technology lessons into the great outdoors with Casio’s Ultra Short Throw projector.

The College is a Birmingham City Council residential special school for students with social, emotional and mental health issues. There is a sharp focus on teaching and learning that broadens students’ positive experiences in 120 acres of woodland with forest school, outdoor education, a school farm and a host of other practical and vocational course.

Casio’s lamp-free UT-351WN has a 3,500 lumens brightness and eliminates any on screen shadowing, making it ideal for outdoor projection. Classes take place in a wooden gazebo style structure, designed and created by James, within the school grounds. Pupils gather and watch how to make their own circuit boards on the projector display.

Hannam says: “The ability to walk into the space and connect wirelessly with iPad to Casio’s UST complements many teaching styles. It means teachers don’t have to be tethered to the front of their teaching spaces; instead they are free to teach across the whole space.

This setup allows teachers to engage with pupils, taking photos of their work whilst instantly projecting it onto a wall (or whiteboard) is a fantastic example of evidence based learning. It allows us to take screenshots of what we are seeing ‘through the lens’ and AirDrop it directly to the student so they have instant feedback on their project. It saves a crazy amount of time (easily hours a week), as I’m not spending valuable time out of lesson syncing and sending images to students after the lesson. In fact, I can send the files whilst they are learning, which ultimately means they see the relevance in class, and don’t have to recall the context outside of the class.”

Time saving is a huge selling point for educators like James, especially when it comes to projector maintenance. Casio’s UT-351WN, along with the entire projector range, is lamp-

free so there is no bulb to clean and IT support technicians don’t have to spend time airbrushing projectors across multiple classrooms. The fan is also silent so it doesn’t interrupt the teaching and there’s no issue with having to stand away from the board to avoid on screen Shadowing.

The light weight of the UST is of benefit to an outdoor environment such as this, as it can be moved around with ease and simply placed on a structure directly in front of the board or screen. The UT-351WN is also capable of projecting a 60-inch screen image from a distance of just 13cm.

Reverend Andrew Lomas, Head Teacher, at Hunters Hill says: “We were surprised by just how bright the projection could be outside. Any activity which allows our pupils to benefit from outdoor learning is integral to the ethos of our school. All of our Key Stage 3 students experience around 26 hours of Forest School sessions each year, which include fire building, communal cooking and eating, followed by activities to build soft skills and appreciation of being outside. When James approached us with the idea of making bat detection kits outside and using Casio’s projector to enhance the learning experience, we embraced the opportunity.”

According to James, the biggest trend he’s now experiencing is a research led approach when it comes to technology in education. This involves testing it in a controlled way in a classroom to see how technology can influence how staff interact with students.

He adds: “Using Casio’s projector outside means you can be really adaptive with your teaching approach. This is a perfect example of how resellers and education consultants, should be opening up the market to schools: exploring potential by placing it in context. In the case of projectors, you don’t have to spend a huge amount to achieve a flexible classroom set-up. Both the clarity and brightness of Casio’s Ultra Short Throw make it ideal for outdoor projection – it can even delineate the white from the whiteness of the board.”