Campus Technology

Educational Market Has “Mounted” a Huge Upgrade in A/V Technology—and the Devices to Support It

By Michael Smith

Improving A/V technology in the classroom has proven to be an ongoing and long-term endeavor. Increasingly, flatscreen televisions, large computer monitors, and interactive panels have been making their appearance in the classroom. This trend has accompanied the growing use of laptops and tablets by both teachers and students, both of whom can use these devices to project their work or lesson plans for the entire class to see.

As the technology has advanced, both the elementary and secondary educational markets have sought to upgrade classrooms to keep pace with the changing technology.  Of course, as the newest flatscreens, most advanced computer monitors, and cutting-edge interactive panels made their way into the classroom, there was an accompanying need to mount them.

Placing a 65-inch or larger flatscreen on a tabletop just wasn’t feasible, for two reasons.

A table that big would take up far too much valuable floor space in what are generally undersized classrooms. Plus, the TV or monitor would remain in a static position; swiveling, lowering, or raising it for maximum visibility would be difficult, given the size and weight of these behemoths.

Putting them on a fixed mount presents its own unique issues. First, it’s difficult to access the back of a fixed mounted screen if maintenance is required. Second, in many classrooms, mounting these large devices in a fixed position would result in the loss of valuable storage space that is often built right into the front wall. And perhaps most important, having to look up for an extended period of time is difficult; if students have to tilt their heads back for an extended period of time, it can result in headaches, neck pain, even back problems - not to mention less attention being paid to the subject matter.

A smarter way of mounting would be one that accommodates a large screen but doesn’t reduce classroom or storage space, is capable of multi-directional movement, is easy to get behind for repairs, and provides a more comfortable learning environment.

 There are a wide variety of A/V mounts that can meet these criteria; a few of them offer vertical movement, which allows TVs and monitors to be mounted high on a wall, out of the way of white boards and storage spaces. They can then be lowered to put TVs or monitors in prime viewing position (eye level is ideal), then easily retracted to their original positions.

Examples of the growing presence of TV and monitor mounts in the classroom abound; MantelMount, a leading designer and manufacturer of full-motion mounts, has seen this trend firsthand. The most recent example is a deal with the Santa Cruz (Calif.) City School District for a total of 241 mounts. (This follows two purchases last year totaling 33 mounts before committing to the larger purchase.) The mounts are improving the classroom environment for students and teachers alike.

The Santa Cruz project was obviously a major project, but not all transactions involve those kinds of numbers. Earlier this year, the La Habra (Calif.) Elementary School District purchased 36 mounts. Around the same time, the Oregon City School District chose 27 pulldown mounts. And on a smaller scale, Lambert High School, a public high school in Forsyth County, Ga., took receipt of six units.

“When we first developed our products, we were initially aiming at the residential consumer,” said MantelMount CEO Lee Marc. “But then, we started to see some requests for use in commercial settings – in corporate environments, hospitality, medical facilities and, of course, schools.

“The level of demand that we’ve seen in the educational market is surprising, even to us. We’ve even seen major activity in the secondary education market, with sales to prestigious universities including Cornell University and Brigham Young University.” 

The company’s success in the educational market this year is actually a continuation of a trend that picked up steam in 2021, as the company sold hundreds of mounts to over 80 schools. Schools and school districts that are undergoing major renovations that include A/V upgrades have been a primary target.

Take Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the oldest Catholic, coeducational, Diocesan high school in the United States.

To capitalize on the latest in-classroom A/V technology—as well as accommodate distance learning brought on by COVID—Catholic Central purchased 45 smart TVs; one in each of the 35 teaching classrooms, and 10 spread out through the administrative and corporate areas.

Supporting those smart TVs were 45 new mounts, which Rachel Kooiker, the school’s director of technology, calls a sound purchase.

“The units allowed teachers to bring their TVs down to eye level – the perfect viewing height – so that kids didn’t have to strain their necks or their eyes. Plus, they’re providing the safest, most secure support for these heavy sets.”

Mounts have also helped schools work around some unique classroom configuration issues. In the Los Gatos (Calif.) School District, school officials wanted to mount their new TVs in the middle of the front wall. But this would cover up whiteboards, behind which was valuable storage space that the teachers couldn’t afford to lose.

Tim Landeck, former Director of Technology for the district, oversaw the purchase of 80 new mounts. By putting them above the whiteboards, teachers can now bring the TVs down in front of the whiteboards when they want, then push them back to their original position. Optimal viewing height achieved, storage space preserved.

“Our teachers love the mounts and what it allows them to accomplish in the classroom,” he said. “Not only do they like that the mount can travel vertically, but they also find the swivel capability useful as well. And of course, they are very happy that they still have their storage space behind the whiteboards, as well as the whiteboards still being available for use.”

The proliferation of and replacement of TVs and monitors has clearly driven the need for mounting solutions that will not only hold this new generation of A/V devices. But a word to the wise: There is a wide selection of mounts available. When it comes to getting the one that’s right for your classroom—in terms of durability, vertical and horizontal movement, ease of installation and maintenance, and preservation of storage space, among other considerations—make sure you do your homework.

Michael Smith is Vice President of MantelMount Wholesale Operations.