AirPlay in the Classroom: Apple TV vs Reflector App

AirPlay in the classroom from an iPad or iPhone is becoming a trend in both Higher Education and K12. More teachers and classrooms are getting mobile devices, either personal or through the insituation, to help enhance their teaching and provide educational content anywhere in the classroom.

Uses for AirPlay in the classroom:

  • Portable whiteboard using an app, such as Educreations
  • Mobile Document Camera (check out Belkin’s new tablet stage)
  • Group Presentations
  • Annotation of Student Work
  • Screencast of iPhone/iPad App for Instruction
  • Quick Slideshows to Summarize Work

AirPlay mirroring requires iPhone 4s or above , iPad 2 and above, or iPad Mini. I’ll use the reference iDevice to refer back to these devices throughout the blog. 

Apple TV:

Apply TV DSC_0561

Cost: $99.00 on Amazon 

Pros:

Apple TV AirPlaying
AirPlay is simple on the Apple TV, even a 5 year old can do it.
  • Doesn’t need a PC or Mac to AirPlay.
  • Small solution that can be easily attached to a TV or Projector with HMDI (or adapter will be necessary).
  • Easy to setup and utilize AirPlay.

Cons:

  • Relatively inexpensive but still need to buy the hardware, cables, and will Apple update this product soon.
  • Need to switch sources on the TV or Projector you are using during the presentation and have sound hooked up on multiple devices.
  • Only one device can AirPlay at a time.
  • No simple way of recording what is happening on the iDevice’s screen.

Reflector App (formally Reflection)

Reflector App Reflector App displaying Twitter App

Cost: $12.99 for one PC or Mac licence at http://www.reflectorapp.com/ Multiple licences available at reduced cost.

AirPlay using Reflector App as a portable doc cam.
AirPlay using Reflector App as a portable doc cam.

Pros:

  • Cheap software based solution.
  • Doesn’t require you switch from your computer input for video or sound on your projector or TV
  • Allows you to record the mirroring display within the software or using a screen recording software.
  • Software based, so updates are always a possibility with new features.
  • Can add framing to match the actually device being used. This feature is great for recording or making tutorials.
  • Allows multiple devices to be AirPlayed onto a single screen.

Cons:

  • Needs a laptop or desktop attached to a TV or Projector.
  • Needs to be installed for each PC or Mac using it. Might not be the best solution for a classroom where teachers or others bring outside laptops to be hooked up to the projector without having a dedicated device in the room.
  • Both PC/Mac needs to be on the same WiFi as the iDevice for AirPlay to work.

Want to see a few of my personal tutorial recorded using Reflector App? Visit my YouTube Channel http://youtube.com/theprofessorjosh

Final Thoughts on Comparing Apple TV and Reflector App

The cost is reduced significantly using the Reflector App ($12.99 vs $99.00) with lots of extra options, including recording AirPlay, multiple device support at one time, no switch video or sound, and various methods showing AirPlay. Reflector App would required a laptop or desktop to be used but most classrooms already have this available. Either way you need a WiFi network for the iDevices to connect via AirPlay.

WiFi Router Option:

TP Link Nano Router
The TP-LINK Nano Router was a great addition to my presenter bag of tricks.

Needing a easy way to create a wireless network, especially if your institutional WiFi doesn’t allow you to easy connect the two devices (Apple TV or PC/Mac with Reflector app) to your iDevices. I recently stumbled upon a cheap, small, portable router that can be great for the classroom, travel, or presentations.

The TP-LINK TL-WR702N  Wireless N150 Travel Router Nano (click to order one) is a fairly cheap option on Amazon. It’s currently $25 but I was able to snag it for $20 about a week ago. It’s has several different option to setup as a repeater, router, AP, client, and bridge. Powered by either USB or USB AC adapter. Sets up in minutes using the default SSID and Password or setup your own.

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4 Comments on “AirPlay in the Classroom: Apple TV vs Reflector App

  1. Does TP-Link Wireless creates it’s own wifi? Have you had problems creating ip address conflicts on the network. i.e. Did you create a specific IP range outside the traditional 192.xxx.xxx

  2. no need for router. Just use your mac to “create a network” from the wifi icon and connect to that network on your iOS device. Done.

  3. Did you play with Powerpoint on iPad via Reflector-2 from airsquirrel. I can’t get it to dsplay full screen. Any thoughts? (‘View Full Screen’ on reflector doesn’t work)
    thanks

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