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Saturday, January 21, 2012

It's an Interactive Whiteboard! It's a Doc Cam! It's... Apple TV!

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!


  1. If you prefer the traditional whiteboard, try a high end glass whiteboard. Great for the corporate or classroom environment.

  2. wow. this is super cool. I like splashtop, but usually find it to cumbersome to use all of the time. Hope I can set this up soon!

  3. Wow great blog, I just found this recently.

    I'm waiting for an AppleTV myself. My colleague got one through the grant he and I wrote for iPads and I'm intensely jealous of what it can do. I use splashtop whiteboard, but I would like to show my iPad screen.

    Your wireless router solution is genius? Am I right in assuming you can password that network, so other classrooms cannot access your AppleTV but your student's still can? I ask only because we sometimes have issues with students in other classrooms using their personal devices to mirror on my colleague's projector which is annoying him.


    1. Exactly! Since the network is passworded (as your ATV can be as well) it adds another layer of security to others "jumping on."

  4. Amazing Video Production started with Video Conferencing to Interactive Whiteboard.Eager to experience Apple TV Interactive Whiteboard.

  5. Hey Jennie, Great post. My Apple TV just came in. I'm waiting for it to get hooked up. So excited!

  6. Hello and help,
    If I want to stream wirelessly from classroom iPads to projector using an Apple TV and our wireless network, does the PC connected to the projector need an HDMI TV card? I guess I am asking, how do I get the Apple TV to connect with the projector, if the projector only has a VGA connection? It's an InFocus 3914.

  7. Hey Jennie, Does the Apple TV AirPlay Mirroring only work with an iPad 2? I'm looking to set up your same system, but only have the original iPad 1's. Thanks.

    1. Sadly, as far as I know, it only works with iPad 2 :(.

  8. Posted a comment here a few days ago and it vanished :(

    I am working to get Apple TV and Airport right now... At the moment I am using a wireless USB and it works...but with too much lag time...

    I need a new LCD projector that is wireless (as the one I have is not)... I am a bit overwhelmed by all the choices out there... Any idea the direction I should go?
    I need:
    LONG lamp Life
    HD would be nice

    Any help I could get would really be appreciated!

    1. Hi Adam,

      Glad to hear that you are enjoying your ATV! I don't have a specific suggestion about a projector, unfortunately. I know you'll need an HDMI hookup for the ATV and high lumens (3000 or more, preferably) to project in a classroom... besides that I'm not really sure what else. Sorry I couldn't be of more help!


  9. I am SO happy I found your blog via pintrest. I have been searching high and low for some assistance and I have my fingers crossed you might just be that person :o)
    I am a 6th grade Mathematics teacher who loves technology but I'm still learning. When iPad's first came out I pre-ordered mine and was in line the day of release. I had taught summer school the year before and saved my $$. I knew that if I worked at it enough I would be able to use my iPad in my classroom. Fastforward--last fall I purchased an Airport express...hooked it to my schools internet and now I had wireless in my classroom. During a district "sweep" (we were having major dips in our connections thus the reason for the sweep) my wireless was discovered and they made me take it down (saying it was the cause of the dips and they could not monitor what was going on/they thought I was getting around the internet filter) they would not bend because I begged and pleaded. (It now sits in it's box and I feel I have wasted my hard earned money.) My wise husband told me just to invest our cell phone plan in a mobile "hot spot" then I would have my wireless so I did. In my classroom I can't get service that is reliable, lots of drops. The classroom 3 doors down is wonderful--but I can't (read that as: they won't) be moved and the signal won't reach. Can't cancel the contract--that cost to darn much $$! Now I'm stuck with an Airport express and a hot-spot.
    Oh the list grows. Went to the Apple store. They told me I just needed a component video cable set....didn't work. Then I needed a VGA adaptor..didn't work. I've got 1 other kind of adaptor but it hooks my MacBook Pro directly to the Promethean...I have spent a lot just trying to integrate more technology into my classroom.; to expose my students to as much as possible. None of it works.
    In my classroom I have 1 teacher dedicated computer/printer that is hooked to my promeathean board. I am assigned 32 activexpressions and 1 document camera. The teacher dedicated computer is hard-lined into the school/district internet. We now have light speed as our "filter." (Oh yes, 1 TV in my classroom as well)
    I am working this summer in curriculum writing so I'm earning a little extra money (to make up for the 9 furlough days we will have this year!)
    Suggestions? Ideas? How can I convince my district to allow me to use their internet--that my airport express is not causing any dips/problems in their network--Do you know of any other routes I could take--anything I could say to the powers that be?
    Any and all help is greatly appreciated!
    Thanks so much

    1. Is your district totally unwilling to allow you any sort of hub for wireless in your room? Is there no wireless in your building? Do you have an IT person or TechCo who could work with you? I would suggest asking what else can be done to provide wireless - share all you've tried at your own expense. Also share the magnitude of what can happen with an Internet connection so that they realize why it is so essential. Show video, student work - etc. Hopefully that will help! Sorry you're in such a bad spot :(.

    2. Your cited reason for the required workaround is exactly why TEACHERS are not responsible for maintaining networks... you don't understand them...

      Rogue equipment is hard enough to keep a handle on and makes it difficult to maintain Quality of Service for others BASIC needs... If your classroom is shielded enough and you turn off wide-channels on your AirPort base station, you can limit the reach of your "Apple" wireless network...

      If the DISTRICT lays forth the requirement that every classroom projector be Apple TV enabled, it would be a different story... but to just allow teachers to bring in personal equipment and expect it to be supported within the already built network... that's ridiculous...

      That would be like me as a parent sending all my favorite books and technical journals with my child to your classroom, and then expecting you to teach that stuff to everybody...

  10. If you have a MacBook running Lion, you can plug it in to the school's network via a data cable & turn it in to a wifi hotspot that will allow you to connect your Apple TV to it (& everything else you want). This was the only way I could get "around" our school's network to get my ATV to work since the tech guy couldn't seem to figure it out O_0. It works well for me ;)

    1. Shelly,

      Can you explain in a little more detail how you created this wifi hotspot? I also have a Macbook running Lion and would love to do this in my classroom.

    2. Here's some additional information: http://www.creativeguise.com/2011/08/02/os-x-lion-makes-internet-sharing-easier-than-before/
      You could also try this: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-set-up-an-ad-hoc-wireless-network.html although you might just be creating a wireless network and not sharing your internet.

  11. Much of what you write about in this post is also available without the cost of the AppleTV. I recently found AirServer (www.airserverapp.com) which works with both Macs and PCs. For about $15 ($12 with student license or even less for a PC) you mirror iPads on your Mac. They have a lot of info on their site, and they have a 7 day trial so you can see if it works for you.

    I haven't had a chance yet to try it out on my network at school, but I believe it would also work using methods similar to what Shelley Montgomery mentioned above (see my comment below hers for additional info).

  12. This gadget doubling as an interactive whiteboard is actually pretty cool! This would definitely be great in a classroom. Kids today are so hooked on this brand; they have their earphones plugged into their ears, cellphones clutched in their hands, their fingers flying over the tablets at blinding speed. Showing them that this brand can also be used in a cool way inside the classroom would be a good way to keep them interested in the lesson.

  13. I salute all the valiant efforts you all put in.
    I'm not an educator like you all.
    But I have to tip my hat to all of you, for your hard work and dedication to educating the next generations of humanity.
    - Keep up the good work!

    And let no district, board or network admin stop you on your mission.
    - YOU bring hope and enthusiasm to the world - Bless you!