Over the holidays I asked Santa for an AppleTV and boy did that jolly old elf deliver. I had some networking issues to work out (see the end of this post for the issues and solution), but once that was taken care of, the magic began.
This $99 device has become the all-in-one accessory for my iPad classroom. It has replaced my TV, my doc cam, and even my interactive whiteboard! How, you ask? Read on, friend.
AppleTV starring as... a TV!
On the simplest level, the AppleTV can stream media. So if I want to show a quick YouTube clip about the polar ice caps or that 2 jugs of water puzzle scene from Die Hard with a Vengeance, a NetFlix movie about Running the Sahara or a Vimeo clip I've produced, I simply stream it from this tiny box. No more rewinding old VHS tapes with dated music and conveniently multi-cultural kids grinning madly into the camera. Instead, I can show authentic media to support and enrich my curriculum at a push of a button.
AppleTV starring as... a Doc Cam!
Using the AppleTV's AirPlay Mirroring function, I can have any iPad in my classroom instantaneously mirrored - sound and all - to the screen. Wow! Since I'm having students complete their work digitally using the app PaperPortNotes as seen in the clip to the right, it is a simple next step to have them display their work and thinking on the projector. The best part? No wires! No wait time! More time to learn!
AppleTV starring as... an Interactive Whiteboard!
When I first got my Promethean board, I was quite concerned about being anchored to it constantly. I like to roam the room while teaching; I like to be able to engage the kids through proximity and movement. I first started using the SplashTop app to remotely control my computer through my iPad. It worked quite well as you can see in this clip. When I added the AppleTV to the mix, I realized that I no longer even needed the Promethean Board. I could simple create presentations directly on an iPad and stream them to a projector or TV as I had done through AirPlay. Using an App like Educreations, I could turn any wall into an interactive whiteboard using a projector and my AppleTV. Now, that's super.
AppleTV and our Network
In our district, many schools have two wireless systems: an enterprise system and a secondary system.
Unfortunately neither will run the AppleTV. ATVs aren't compatible with enterprise networks and the second system only will run the ATV sporadically due to a "rogue broadcast signal" issue that's beyond my tech understanding. What I do understand, however is the workaround.
I bought a $179 AirPort Extreme wireless base station and plugged it into the ethernet in my wall. I then got a second ethernet cable and plugged it into my AppleTV. I followed the step-by-step directions in the AirPort Extreme manual to set up my own Wireless Network. Next, I had all of my kids hop onto the new wireless signal and voila! My ATV is on all the time now, no more wireless signal drop for my kids on their iPads and my entire system is more stable! For under $300 I have a system that is faster, more efficient, and wireless!