Recently I have run a couple of training sessions on using Apple TV in the classroom. Apple TV seems to be the tool that every principal wants in their school and the one that teachers are the least comfortable using. Is it an effective teaching tool, and what can you actually do with an Apple TV?
The first challenge for most teachers seems to be how to actually connect it. HDMI connections are perhaps not easy to come by if using an IWB that has a wall plate, so many are opting for a HDMI to VGA convertor. But beware, this means some content just won’t work because it needs that HDMI connection. And how do you know if it isn’t going to work? Trial and error. I think that most content that teachers want to show will work so this probably isn’t going to be a big issue in the classroom, and teachers are adaptable creatures… they will easily move on to something else that does work.
By rights you should be able to connect the HDMI, connect the power, connect to the internet and away you go. You could choose to use either an ethernet cable or try to configure it to work on the school’s wireless network. If you are using it on the school’s wireless network you will need to get someone to configure it/allow it to access the network. Remember, of course; the Apple TV is generally going to be as good as the WiFi it, and the iPad/iPod/iPhone it is connected to!
So everything is connected… now you can use AirPlay to show the content on your iPad up on the ‘big’ screen. AirPlay mirrors you iPad so that it will show on the screen that the Apple TV is connected to. But, due to the limitation of the iPad’s screen resolution – that image that is showing on your big IWB/LCD will rarely actually fill the screen. Changing the orientation of the iPad can help, but it’s still probably not going to fill that screen. So if you are producing text type documents that you want the students to view and you will be showing it from your iPad via Apple TV – use a big font. There is no way the students at the back of your class are going to see a size 14 font. This being said – you can display whatever is on your iPad up on the screen so that everyone can see it. This means any nifty apps that you have downloaded can be shown. Apps that students will be using can be modeled. Photos taken can be shown. The possibilities of how you can use these tools are infinite.
And there are plenty of apps out there that can help you display your content. Perhaps there are too many – but a good starting point is using what someone else already uses. Here are some good places to start –
- 52 of the Best apps of 2015
- Amazing iPad Apps for Educators
- EdTech teachers have an extensive list that you can choose to categorise by mobile device or learning area.
Don’t forget that your iPad has a camera! Take photos to show, get the students to take photos to show the class. There is a great app called Share It, which allows you to write over the photos or video. So not only can you set tasks, but you could also do things like take a photo of someone’s work and use it is an example on the board – with the ability to highlight and annotate it as you go. This could also work for worksheets.
In regards to other classrooms being able to share their content on your IWB through AirPlay, you are able to set a code for your Apple TV. This means that only devices that have entered the passcode will be able to share via AirPlay to the device that the Apple TV is connected to. No more being ‘hijacked’ by the students next door!
So, will Apple TV effectively replace your Interactive White Board or Interactive LCD? Probably not. Teachers who have used interactive technology will most likely find the limitations of using an iPad, as opposed to Interactive software and interactive screen, frustrating. But is it another tool that we can provide teachers? Absolutely, it adds another dimension to our teaching practices, if used well, and will certainly broaden the students learning – especially if you have a teacher who explores app making and creating own content with the students. It does open a door of new ideas and activities that are available to educators.
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