Reflector and the iPads

February 6, 2013 One of the most intriguing use of the iPads in the classroom, at least for me, is the ability for students to present from their device. They can stand in front of the room and display in the front projector just like I do. Some of you are thinking we can do that with laptops and the older tablets. Yes, yes, we can. But laptops require changing cables, dealing with resolutions, and then having the person that is projecting finding some application to show their stuff. And the old tablets ran out of battery after one class, they were too much technology for classroom use.

With the current generation of tablets (iPads and Androids), I can run the classroom the same way my teachers did when I was in high school or college. They called on me "Manuel, why don't you work out the next problem on the board." It is the same with the setup we have this semester. I just ask students to work on a writeup or design and then ask some of them to display it on the board (classroom projector).

This alone to me is a fantastic way to run the class. A few days ago, we had the opportunity to do this for the first time in the classroom. As expected, it was cool when it worked… but it was obvious that we have have details to sort out.


Reflector AppFirst, just a refresher, I am running Reflector on my mac and that mac is connected to the classroom projector. That mac then becomes an AirPlay receiver for any iPad in the same wireless net.

Some of you are already thinking:

Alert Reader: Wait, did he say same wireless net?

Me: Yes.

Alert Reader: You mean, that if I am outside the classroom I could project to the classroom?

Me: Yes.

Alert Reader: Oh, goodie. I am going to stand outside of your classroom tomorrow and play this video for your class

Well, it happened already, but not on purpose. We actually had someone trying to display something (by accident I pressume). Later that day, I was showing the setup in our department and also had the situation of someone who was playing with their laptop doing dual mirror with their Mac to my Mac.

I am sure that's why the good people at Reflector thought of a password. So, everyday before class I set a different password. If I want students to display, then I say the password outloud in class.

Some uses

The following video shows a clip of uses of the display in the classroom. We were discussing concept statements. I asked all students in class to write a short concept statement for a "smart fridge." No more information was given. After a few minutes I asked them to display their concept statement for us to critique.

The video clip below shows a student who was testing how the software worked and decided to draw a concept statement instead of writing it. His "smart fridge" had an Einstein head on it. Then another student proceeded to read his description (you barely hear the student's voice, one of the downfalls of the video capture). And finally, another student displayed his work, this time a real writeup. This happens towards the end, around the 2:40 mark.

Watch the video to get a sense of how it happened live.


I like that the students have the ability to project directly from their seats, no getting up, no cables, no apps to deal with. Just "throw your display up." I like having a password so I can control when we get to play together and when not.

I wished that there was an easy way for the display to indicate whose iPad is on the screen. It would be nice if it showed in a corner the picture and name of the student. See the figure below for an example showing a picture of Joe Student. As a matter of fact, why not open a video feed and show the student in a corner reading and commenting on his/her work.


-- Manuel

Posted on 02/06/2013



Computing Usability


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