Apple TV Shenanigans
In late September or early October 2012 I was approached by my tech coordinator and asked if I would test out how an iPad/Apple TV combo would work with the new interactive projector that was just installed in my classroom. My response “Umm, let me think about that for a minute… YES!!” (The entire math department got interactive projectors installed in their rooms over the summer before the 2012/2013 school year. I was only science teacher that was slated to get one along with one english teacher. However, my projector was on back order and didn’t arrive until after the school year started.)
Our first order of business was deciding on where to install the interactive projector. We (the tech coordinator, myself and maintenance) agreed that we would use the recommended specs that come with the projector. It ended up being mounted towards the right hand side of my whiteboard so that it was close to my computer and within the specs. This was not an ideal spot because all of the kids in my room didn’t have a great view of the projection but we worked it out. My students that were at a bad angle to the projector figured out where they could move in the room when we were using it. And did just that… we had a system, the ones who needed to move would quickly and quietly get up and go when they needed to with a hassle.
My second order of business, once the Apple TV was installed and I had the iPad I started rewriting my all of old lessons to accommodate the technology in my classroom. I spent many hours searching for interactive websites and iPad Apps that would support what I was teaching and enhance my lessons. My rule of thumb was that whatever I used my students should be able to use it as well. I tried my best to structure lessons so that the students were the ones using the technology during the lesson. I would let them come up the board and use the pens for in the interactive projector. I would use the Apple TV to mirror what was on the iPad and pass it around while I was teaching so the students could see and test their ideas. My students loved this!! The technology was helping to keep them engaged and was not distracting. What a win win situation I was in.
I was then approached my by supervisor and asked if this would be a good set up for all of our science teachers. Again my response was “YES!!” The entire science department was now getting interactive projectors, iPads and Apple TVs. However, in order to get these items we had to agree to use our textbook budget – and be okay with the fact that we may never get new textbooks again. It was unanimous!! And they were ordered.
Here are the two major problems that we ran into and the solutions that we came up with:
Problem 1: Placement of the Interactive Projector
The interactive projectors needs a flat surface in order to work properly. In my building most classrooms have old chalkboards that are covered with a material to make them a whiteboard. However, there was a bump in the middle where the two chalk boards meet so the projector could not be installed in the center of their front board. My room was a little different as in I had real whiteboards installed many years ago but I had a metal piece running down the middle where the two boards met. SOLUTION: The interactive projectors would have to be mounted to one side or the other so that the projection didn’t overlap the bump in the middle and be more centered so that all of the students had a better view. However, by doing that we had to add cable extensions to all of the wiring. This is not recommended by the manufacturer of the projector because it could decrease the connectivity between projector and the computer. So far this has not been an issue. Everything has worked perfectly.
Problem 2: Apple TV Drops Mirroring
Once the projectors and Apple TVs were installed if multiple teachers were using the mirroring on the Apple TV at the same time the mirroring would drop and you wouldn’t be able to reconnect. First he turned off everyone else’s ATV and left just mine on. Once this was done I didn’t have any problems. I didn’t lose the mirroring and it ran smoothy. So after lots of research by myself and our Tech Coordinator we realized that if there are several ATVs in close proximity they cross signals on the wifi and drop out. There’s a more to it but it’s too technical for me. SOLUTION: All of the ATVs were placed on a subnet (a different wifi than the main one for the entire building). Each ATV is passworded so that only the classroom teacher’s iPad can connect to the ATV in their classroom. This has eliminated the dropping of the mirroring.
There are a lot of little technical things that happened in-between but this is the overall gist of it. Hope this is helpful for anyone who is considering this setup in their classroom.
PS – I love it!! I think it has helped make me a better teacher because I’m rethinking how I teach and what the desired outcome is.