Got iPads? Now Get Apple TV

EdTech, Platforms & Data

“Some things never change”

Apple TV 2G (2010)This is not a quote heard very often in the field of educational technology, where we are constantly striving to stay caught up with the development of everything digital. Still, it can be a very true statement in the classroom. One thing that never seems to change is the fact that there is not enough time in the school day to check off every item we have listed on the daily teacher “to do” list.

It was Dr. Wes Fryer who defined for me what I was looking for in the technologies I wanted to integrate into my classroom. His post he wrote back in 2007 that illustrated “The ethic of minimal clicks for classroom digital storytelling” incited my expectations of a web tool or app  and since then, the term “minimal clicks”  is a key for my evaluation before I integrate a new tool into my classroom. We know there are almost too many ways to produce a desired digital assignment or project, therefore, as an educational technology integrator, I can never know all the ways, but I definitely want to know the best way.

Enter, AppleTV….

I hooked up an Apple TV to my classroom projector this year to see what it could do. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if it would live up to the hype because it really doesn’t offer anything I couldn’t accomplish previously, it would just take a lot more work and time. Immediately after the typically simple Apple setup, I discovered AppleTV takes minimal clicks to an entire new level! Just holding that little silver remote in the palm of my hand, scrolling through the menu effortlessly from anywhere in the classroom, I could feel time minutes being added to “time on task” instead of what I had experienced in the years before, which might be referred to as “time waiting for the video to load” or “time waiting for the teacher to connect the laptop to the projector” – and that list of possible titles goes on as long as the amount of technical difficulties we encounter everyday in class.

I’ve found that the amount of steps or clicks required, definitely correlates to room for error or delay. Apple TV has reduced my amount of clicks so unbelievably, I think it should be a necessity for an ipad using teacher. I wanted to make a list of how Apple TV will change my classroom from last year without it to this year with it:

Then…

I bought a dongle and connected my ipad to the projector so all the students could see what the screen and what was happening on the iPad.  I called on students to come up to the projector cart to take turns responding to questions on the iPad. The students definitely benefitted from seeing the iPad screen projected, but we did spend quite a bit of time waiting for a student to walk up to the iPad and respond to a question, etc. If the student wasn’t waiting to jump out of his or her chair or was a slow walker, we could waste a full minute or even two waiting for the student to come to the front.

Now…

The teacher or students can pass the iPad around the classroom quickly and easily, getting the iPad to the student instead of the student to the iPad.  iPads were designed to be mobile devices… not tethered to a projector. Apple TV allows for the students to get the real benefit these devices were designed for … Mobility!

Then…

Last year, with my laptop, I would have to connect it to the projector, wait for the computer to render itself to show up on the screen, sometimes do my search for my website or video  I wanted to share with the class that day, etc. In truth, I often wasted three to five minutes with technology setup at the start of the day or lesson.

Now…

With the Apple remote it takes me two to three clicks to get to my personal Youtube channel and play any video I have in my account, from videos that we produced in class to subject focused videos I favorited to share with the students. It is honestly as easy as turning on the TV and clicking on the channel I want.

Then…

I had so many wires to deal with and wasted a good two to three minutes every time I had to alternate between displaying my laptop or my ipad on the projector with the speakers, etc. Plus the cart really doesn’t have enough room so I always felt nervous one or the other might fall and break

Now…

My projector, speakers and Apple TV box sit neatly on my cart, uncrowded and neatly organized. I switch from iPad to laptop wirelessly, with no risk of physical damage involved! I am looking forward to my students also having iPads so we can use AppleTV to also mirror their iPads with no wires or shuffling around the room required.

Then…

I used a separate iPod dock speaker on my desk to play music or podcasts at different times during the day in my classroom. That meant I had to walk to the speaker, another gadget in the classroom, doc my iphone and then scroll through to find the music we were looking for.

Now…

I use my AppleTV, with maybe three to four clicks to find the music or podcast instantly and play it over my projector speakers without even moving away from what I was doing in the first place.

As I experiment and become more experienced with AppleTV, I really understand why this is a key product for Steve Jobs big picture of what Apple could accomplish. I love it because it gives me time and removes frustration, which, for me, is the accurate definition of effective technology.

Alison Anderson

Alison Anderson

Alison Anderson is a Media Specialist at The Madeleine School. Follow her on twitter at @tedrosececi.

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