Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mirroring iPads in the Classroom - Apple TV and the Reflection App

Ever since I started helping teachers and students use the iPad in the classroom I have been looking for ways to wirelessly mirror an iPad to a projection screen. I really thought it would be useful if students and teachers could quickly and easily share what was on their iPad screen, whether it be a digital story, a model of an atom, or a demonstration of how to do something with the iPad.

When the second generation Apple TV came out I found this could be accomplished using the AirPlay feature in iOS5.  The one issue I came up against was sound.  The ATV outputs sound via HDMI or Optical Audio. The problem is that many of the teachers in my district have older projectors that either don't have an HDMI input or if they do, don't have an audio output so they are stuck playing the audio on the projector's small speakers which are typically low quality.  I was able to work around this problem with either of these two products

 I prefer the second one as it is about half the price.  This setup still has a few issues:

1. Sound works for most apps/videos/etc. but not for all.  It is a good idea to test it out before using it in class.
2.  For overhead mounted projectors the outlet requirements start to add up.  To start with you have the projector and the wireless receiver you are using to connect with your computer.  Then you add the Apple TV, an HDMI or Optical Audio converter, and potentially speakers. Now you need 5 outlets.  Our ceiling mounts were wired with only two outlets.   If you have LCD projectors on carts this is a non-issue.

So now that I have gotten all that figured out and teachers and students are happily mirroring their iPads ot the projector,  a new application has come out rendering this setup obsolete (well only for those teacher who have Macs) !

The Reflection App for Mac came out last Wed. making wireless iPad mirroring to your Mac (and then to your projector) possible for around $15, about $135 less than the set up mentioned above. So my recommendations is if you bought Apple TVs make them available to your teachers who don't have Macs and use the Reflection App for those that do.  Of course this will all be moot when OSX Mountain Lion is released this summer with AirPlay functionality built in:)

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