Two months ago, after school had started and teachers started worrying about how they would use iPads in their classrooms, I started doing some research. One of the teachers’ biggest concerns was projecting what they were doing on their iPads for the class to see. What follows is how we went about making the choice and what is coming next.
We knew that you could connect an iPad using a dongle but this solution presented many (obvious) disadvantages. Although teachers could share them if needed, it would be ideal to have one for every teacher (at $30+ a piece). There would be no worries about students messing with the connection, however teachers would be confined to their desk. Another option was Apple TVs. We would still need one per teacher ($99 each) and there didn’t seem to be any privacy settings (read: students could easily ‘take over’ and project their iPads). We kept looking.
About this time I stumbled across Reflector App. I had a difficult time finding teachers and schools currently using it, so I decided to do my own experimenting. I bought a single user license for my laptop (normally $14.99, currently $11.99). After installing Reflector on my laptop, I began playing with it. Using AirPlay (must have iPad 2 or newer & wireless internet), I was able to wirelessly mirror my iPad onto my laptop screen. I was excited that this might be a solution for our teachers! I went a step further and created a couple videos for iPad PD showing teachers how to use the calendar app. I was pumped!
And then I brought my laptop to school…it didn’t work! The last month, I have spent time talking with people at Reflector and our network administrator here. Reflector nformed me that bulk purchasing licenses would bring the price down to $8 each and that we could password protect the ability to mirror to the PC (HUGE!). On our end, we were able to open a couple ports and get my laptop on the same wireless network (and subnet) as my iPad. On our network, you cannot connect a wireless iPad to a wired computer because there is no way to make them on the same subnet (however the Reflector staff says this is possible when on the same subnet). The Reflector support staff has been wonderful answering my questions though email and on Twitter. They shared a blog post with me from an educator using Reflector & Air Server. (I did take a little time to research Air Server. There are many similarities, but I was more impressed with Reflector online presence and had already been in contact with the Reflector staff.)
I’m excited to say that the purchase of licenses for our staff has been approved! We are taking this process slowly so that we can get feedback and have a support system in place for teachers as they start using it. We will be setting up computers (installing Reflector & wireless cards) in sets of 5. I have the difficult task of choosing which teachers will start the rollout.
I am looking for teachers who:
*are relatively savvy with technology and are fast learners.
*are eager and willing to incorporate the iPad in their classrooms.
*like to try new approaches and are comfortable enough to experiment.
*enjoy sharing their knowledge with colleagues.
Some issues we’ve already encountered:
*all computers using Reflector will show up on AirPlay on the iPad (if there are 100 computers with Reflector, you will be able to see and choose from all 100).
*we are running Windows 7 32-bit Professional. When Reflector is installed & authenticated on the admin profile, it is not authenticated on a teacher profile (prompts you to enter license serial code again).
My goal is to keep a “journal” of how we are using Reflector in the school and classroom. When I was looking into solutions, I couldn’t find many educators who were using Reflector. I’d like to be able to help others who are interested! Please let me know if you have experience with Reflector or if there is anything you’d like to know about the set-up and how we’re using it :)
Note: I did not receive any compensation for this review. Just my honest opinion & experience.