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Using Reflector as a cheaper alternative to Apple TV

16:03 Jamie Edmondson 0 Comments Category : , , , ,

A common issue for many schools when using iPads (or other tablet devices), is how to display content onto the Projector/Whiteboard. Many schools have purchased Apple TV. However a cheaper solution, is to download an airplay app such as Airserver, or the one that I use, Reflector. At the start of the year I purchased a licence for 8 computers (one laptop per year group). This worked out at around £60 - a lot cheaper than buying an Apple TV (about £90 each) or a VGA cable (about £25 each new). It means that teachers (or pupils if using a class set of iPads), have the capacity to mirror their iPad from wherever they are in the room. The main benefit of this is that you are not tied to the front of the classroom, as you are when teaching from a laptop and interactive whiteboard (or as you would be if using the iPad connected to the projector through the VGA cable). In fact, in essence, the iPad itself becomes the interactive whiteboard, enabling you to teach from any part of the classroom. For example, I tend to have my lessons structured within notebook files produced on the Smart Notebook app and within this I can quickly drag up the camera to take photos of pupils' work to display. This is great for mini - plenaries, especially during Literacy, when I can quickly photograph a pupil's piece of writing and then highlight key features, either myself or by passing the iPad to another child. The iPad then becomes a kind of mobile visualiser, with the added benefit of you being able to annotate the pupil's work.

Setting up and using Reflector

Once you have installed Reflector on to your desktop you will need to copy and paste in the long code that is given to you (you can also download a free 10 minute trial to try out first before you buy it). Reflector does rely on a good WiFi signal to work well, so I always ensure that I have my VGA cable nearby just in case I have to resort to connecting it up to the projector that way instead!

The images below, walk you through, step by step the process of setting up and using Reflector......

(Note: with the new iOs7 update this is done by dragging up from the bottom of the screen, whereas with older versions, you double press the home button)

Using Reflector with a class set of iPads

When mirroring multiple devices, they will queue up along the bottom of your toolbar and you can select them through your laptop. Right click to make them full screen.

Using Reflector and Smart Notebook app

Using Airdrop to share content

The current iOs7 update features the ability to "airdrop" work between devices. This means that, as long as you have Blutooth enabled and a good WiFi signal, a simple swipe from the bottom of the screen allows the iPad user to make their device visible to nobody, contacts or everyone (you can choose which option you want in your settings). Once that is done images, video, books and other content can be instantly shared.The recipient simply needs to accept the content. I am really excited by the potential of this as a way of developing an efficient workflow between the pupil iPads and the main teacher iPad.  In the past I have used Dropbox to do this and also the pupils have their own Evernote folders too, to store and tag evidence of the work they produce. However, this could be an even more effective way of collecting pupil work and having it all on one device as evidence. Unfortunately, as my school has 2nd generation iPads and my main teaching iPad is a 3rd generation, I haven't been able to trial it much as its only a feature on 4th generation devices and above!

If you would like any help in setting up Reflector or using Airdrop, please contact me.