iPads in Education

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AirPlay: The Hidden Gem for Education in iOS 5

One of the "quieter" new features of the new iOS 5 system release is the expansion of its AirPlay functionality. In fact, if you skim Apple's marketing for iOS 5 it trumpets a host of important new features while AirPlay is relegated to a "More features" section at the end.


You may already be familiar with Airplay. It's the feature on your iPad or iPhone that allows you to wirelessly stream photos, video and music from your iOS device to any external display such as an HDTV (through an Apple TV connection). It's a wonderful feature and its only limitation is that it has been restricted to streaming media wirelessly - it could not be used to display apps or your iPad screen. As a consequence, AirPlay streaming has been utilized predominantly at home rather than in the classroom. That has changed with the release of Apple's new iOS 5 operating system.


With iOS 5 you can now use AirPlay to "mirror" your entire iPad screen and display or project it. All that is required is an iPad 2, the new iOS operating system and an Apple TV (which sells for around $100) that connects to any TV, monitor or projector with an HDMI interface. You can project your iPad with a couple of simple steps ... and it works wirelessly! Here's how:


  • Double click the iPad home button
  • Slide your home screen to the right
  • If you have an Apple TV on your wifi network then you will see the AirPlay button (see below)  
  • Press the Airplay button and it display a list of all your enabled AirPlay devices
  • Select your display and you will get an option to turn on mirroring (assuming your Apple TV is running iOS 5 as well)

As a teacher, you're no longer tethered to a cable at the front of your room. You're free to roam around the room and throw your iPad screen to any Apple TV connected display. Even better, you can also have student iPads enabled with mirroring and ask any student to project their screen! Melissa found something interesting on the web? You have them working in groups and you want to display and share their project? Ask them to display their iPad via AirPlay. The process of sharing, discussing and collaborating in class is far simpler when everyone can quickly display their screen for all to see.


Further. this wireless projection system can be implemented very simply and inexpensively. I'm currently working on one 1:1 iPad project with a small school and we're hanging 47" HDTVs and Apple TVs in every classroom (see example above). Once complete, every iPad in the class will be able to display to the HDTV wirelessly. The total cost per room is well under $1,000. That's a fraction of the cost of earlier wireless projection options and still significantly cheaper than standard cabled projection systems that make it very difficult to share student work (especially when you include the cost of replacement bulbs for projectors). Let's not even mention the cost of Smartboards...


In summary, AirPlay is a very simple method for promoting sharing and collaboration in your classroom ... and it's an option that comes at a relatively affordable cost.


Sam Gliksman
Twitter: @samgliksman



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Comment by Chris Russell on February 3, 2012 at 9:11am

Just to comment on the last two posts...


Each Apple TV has its own name (you can name it), so you can choose which Apple TV your iPad will display to, and you can set a password for that particular Apple TV.


As for mirroring to an HDMI device, Apple is clearly interested in the future.  An HDMI connection isn't exactly "new," but HDMI in an LCD projector is relatively new, and VGA connections are truly old technology (still widely used, except in Apple products, but old).  HDMI also takes care of the question of both sound and video connection, making the connection of cables easier for the consumer.


Don't think for a second that Apple's intent is for you to use a LCD Projector with the Apple TV.  They see the future of large 96 inch (and greater) LCD TVs that are bigger (and less expensive) than most existing interactive white boards.  You can buy an 80" Sharp LCD TV for under $5000 at this point, and that unit is larger than all the 4:3 interactive white boards I've seen (our school has 16:9 interactive white boards).  LCD TVs have lifespans of 100,000 hours or greater...over 60 years of daily school use, all day every day.  Our 2.5 year old LCD projectors are starting to burn out at $300 each bulb.

Comment by Joel Backon on February 3, 2012 at 7:14am
Instead of switching Apple TV connections from student to student, Is anybody using an app that will echo a student's iPad screen to the teacher's iPad, then projecting for the rest of the class through the teacher's device? I've tried it with Join.me, but it's a little cumbersome.
Comment by Sam Gliksman on February 3, 2012 at 6:21am
It's a pretty simple process. When you mirror your screen through the Apple TV it simply takes control and replaces whatever was there already. There's no need to disconnect anyone (although it's easy to disconnect and stop mirroring at any point). Same applies to the teacher - you simply follow the process to mirror your iPad and it displays on the projection device.

If you want some degree of control over the process then you can add a password to your Apple TV. You'd then have to walk over to a student's iPad and enter the password before they could mirror their screen.

Comment by Ken Koltun-Fromm on February 1, 2012 at 10:59pm


I am new to this forum but very much interested in it.  I would like to apply for a grant from my College (Haverford College) to use iPads in the classroom in precisely the way described in this blog post: scatter a few iPads around the table and allow students to become "active learners" by throwing texts, images, or whatever onto a big screen for the whole class to see (using Apple TV).  

I had one question, however: how does this setup work with multiple iPads?  When Joe and Alice, for example, have iPads in their hands around the table, and each wants to mirror his/her own iPad on the bigger screen, how does one iPad connect, then disconnect to allow the other iPad to mirror?  And what if I want to show something to the class with my iPad in hand?

Thanks for the help.

Comment by Chris Russell on October 30, 2011 at 9:12pm
One more addition...once the Apple TV passcode is entered for AirPlay from an iOS device, it doesn't need to be entered again unless the passcode is changed.  This means that kids don't have to see the passcode for the teacher to mirror to the Apple TV.
Comment by Chris Russell on October 30, 2011 at 9:10pm



That's a great observation.  I don't go near that YouTube videos, and the movie "posters" aren't something that the kids don't see elsewhere.


The main trick is to mirror the iPad before students enter the room, and then there are no problems whatsoever.


I would also think that your school could block YouTube, if necessary, during school hours.  Granted...that potentially takes away a great resource from teachers...but it could solve your issues.


I also recommend an app called Downloader, which allows you to download and convert YouTube videos and save them to your iPad Photo library (which is where Keynote can link videos from).  There are both free and paid versions (The developer is listed as JT Teh).  By the way, the app gives a warning about content...because inappropriate content COULD be downloaded by the app (any Flash video).  That doesn't mean that you have to use the app to download that content.


Then teachers could use the YouTube materials without having to interface with the actual site in class, which is a win-win.

Comment by Kristen downs on October 30, 2011 at 6:57pm
I'm a parent volunteer at a small private school (~100 students, JK-8).  We are implementing iPads in the classroom but we aren't going to be 1:1.  AirPlay and Apple TV seem like a great solution for us and will likely replace the overhead projectors in our budget.  I got an Apple TV to try at home.  I love how it mirrors the iPad, but there are couple of issues.  1.) Can I get the home screen to default to something other than new release movies on iTunes?  2.) How can I stop the scrolling "most popular" videos on youTube?  Even with the apple TV parental controls on (and the students can watch teachers put the code in), I'm seeing some stuff that I'd rather not make our teachers manage.
Comment by Gavin Tyte on October 29, 2011 at 1:41pm
Thanks for all the tips.  @Nathaniel.  You and others use the Monoprice box to do the conversion from Apple TV to the projector.  Here in the UK there is a similar box (made by Konig - it looks like an identical spec. with different branding although more expensive over here).  Quick question - did you need a scaler?  Our projector is XGA (1024 x 768).  Thanks.
Comment by Nathaniel Lindley on October 27, 2011 at 12:45pm

In terms of networking I have found:

the AppleTV doesn't support the Enterprise version of WPA2 wireless  (like ours which uses a RADIUS authentication server).

Wireless iPad to wireless AppleTV with out encryption works, but not as smooth.

Your school networks have to support the multicast dns (bonjour) to allow the iPad to see the AppleTV

the iPad and AppleTV can't communicate across subnets or VLANs.  wouldn't it be nice to be able to enter the IP of one device or the other to establish the communication--like our projectors?

I had great success using the HDMI to VGA adapter from Monoprice: PID 8126  put your name on the waiting list...it is only $40.



Comment by Frank Garufi Jr. on October 27, 2011 at 12:44pm
Right now, we dont allow iPad access to Students on our wireless network, only Faculty and Administrators are allowed to access it. So what I've done is create a seperate VLAN on our wireless network just for iPads. When the iPad join the wireless network, our MS Radius server authenticates them against AD, then when the MAC address of the iPad is seen, it automatically puts them into that VLAN.


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