Are you thinking of replacing your ageing interactive whiteboards? Before you reinvest, it might be worth taking a look at the combination of Apple TV, iPad and a few well-chosen apps, or an interactive touchscreen, as a replacement for, or to work alongside, your existing display solution.
Are you able to easily use the interactive features of your existing equipment to enhance teaching and learning? It sometimes takes a lot of training and practice to get the full benefit of some systems, so perhaps there’s a solution that might be better suited to your teaching style, and the needs of your students. You need something that’s easy to use, cost-effective and will make sure both staff and pupils are getting the greatest educational benefit from the technology.
To get you started, we’ve looked into the teaching benefits of using Apple TV with iPad, as well as those offered by traditional interactive whiteboards, and broken down the key things to consider when looking at presentation systems. These include content, interactivity, accessibility, collaboration and, most importantly, cost.
The hardware on offer
We’ve been working with hundreds of schools recently to implement iPad and Apple TV deployments, and are really starting to see the benefits of the workflow on offer. But what actually is Apple TV? This isn’t a screen, as the name may suggest, but a tiny box that can plug into any display or projector, allowing you to wirelessly mirror the display and audio output of any iPad in the classroom. This will allow the teacher and students to model any activities and projects on the iPad to the rest of the class and present content such as video, images and presentations. And since the introduction of the Mountain Lion operating system you can also mirror the screen and audio of any Mac in the classroom as well.
Apple TV connects directly to any display or projector with an HDMI socket, or to a VGA projector using a simple adaptor. And once an Apple TV is present in the classroom, nothing further is required on the iPad or Mac – Apple’s AirPlay technology makes it easy to connect over WiFi.
Then you have interactive touchscreens, which function like huge iPad devices and can work in conjunction with Apple TV for wireless mirroring. One model that we do like is the C-TOUCH Leddura board – a huge 65″ whiteboard with HD visuals and multitouch control that’s great for interactivity and looks impressive, and retails for around £3300. Ultimately it’s what level of interactivity you need, and how you want to teach, that will determine whether a whiteboard is the right option for you, or Apple TV with iPad.
Apple TV doesn’t require any kind of computer to connect and, because you can project wirelessly from any iPad (or Mac), teachers can move freely around the class, and away from the Victorian ‘chalk and talk’ model of being stuck at the front of the room giving a presentation. That means they can work with individual pupils and groups, while also giving pupils the chance to project to the screen at the front from their desk. This is a great way for pupils to present work in plenary exercises, and for peer assessment, encouraging those with less confidence to present their work without having to stand in front of the class
And here’s another idea you might try – the wireless connectivity also makes Apple TV a great solution for streaming content like school announcements to screens in the school hall or entrance lobby. Assembly halls with projectors no longer need a cumbersome computer to display digital content – simply connect an Apple TV to the projector and use an iPad for all your presenting needs.
On a side note, there’s not a lot of point going down the Apple TV and iPad deployment route if your projected image is poor. While an interactive touchscreen like the C-TOUCH will present your content in crisp, sharp HD, if you’d prefer to go down the projector route, or don’t have the budget to stretch to an interactive touchscreen, we can provide brand new projectors to give your images a boost.
One benefit of an Apple TV setup over a traditional whiteboard is the greater level of interaction you can have with content. Instead of interacting with the board, students interact with the iPad as a handheld control surface, giving a greater range of functionality than that offered by an interactive whiteboard. There’s a wide range of apps available for iPad that duplicate or enhance the interactive features of existing technologies too – such as apps that allow students to annotate content in real time, as a way of evidencing their learning.
Other apps give the teacher ways of controlling presentations from their own iPad, and have it show up on pupils’ devices from anywhere, so everyone is seeing the same thing at the same time, along with interactive features such as quizzes and surveys. An important point to remember is once students begin to have devices of their own they too can have the same apps that drive the display systems and start to create their own digital content to support teaching and learning outcomes.
You’ve probably already got a huge wealth of staff-created content and legacy resources, often put together over many years, so it is great to know that many file types such as Powerpoint .ppts can be opened, edited and presented from iPad, and you can continue to use these resources. An app like Explain Everything automatically turns an existing Powerpoint slideshow into an interactive resource that can be annotated and recorded in real time.
All existing SMART and Promethean lesson plans can also be used on new interactive touchscreens too. And the chance to create new materials, and moving away from the legacy software means you’re not tied down to using the content just on existing interactive whiteboards, freeing both teacher and students to work and interact anywhere.
The real crux of the decision on new technology for schools is usually cost. An Apple TV will only set you back £79.50 ex VAT per unit, with iPad devices starting from as little as £209.50 ex VAT each. If you need to use Apple TV with an existing VGA projector, you will also need a Kanex ATV Pro adaptor to connect the two, which sells for £35 ex VAT.
Want to know more about Apple iPad for the classroom? Get in touch with the team on 03332 409 333, email learning@Jigsaw24.com, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Jigsaw24 Education Facebook page for all the latest technology in education news, reviews and articles.