Apple TV in the Classroom (Macbook Airs)

I think that an issue that many people have when viewing how to use technology use in the classroom is that they only look at the surface abilities of a tool.  Take for example an Apple TV which can be connected to a projector or TV in the classroom.  You can easily see that the Apple TV can be very useful for playing videos and other content found in iTunes, YouTube or other places online.  What many people do not see is what the ability to wirelessly project from an iPad or a Macbook Air laptop can have in the classroom.

(Since my school is equipped with Macbook Airs, I will focus on them but many of the uses I discuss can be applied to iPads and there is a lot of information out there already about this.)

Connecting a Macbook Air to an Apple TV wirelessly is fairly easy and can be set up so that any computer can connect in order to share what is on their computer.  I suggest setting up your Apple TV so that you have it for a passcode instead of a password.  The passcode allows only the person who can see the screen to connect, meaning that a student can not try to connect to it while they are in another room.  And always remember that you can use the menu button on the remote to kick a person off of the Apple TV if they start sharing something inappropriate or out of bounds.

That sharing feature is the most critical component to the use of an Apple TV in the classroom.  While you can easily connect to the iTunes store, YouTube, Khan Academy and any of the media sites that are included with the Apple TV, the ability to share what is on a student’s laptop may be key.  This can easily allow the students to help lead the learning and to share what they think and how they developed that understanding.

Lets work out a few cases to see how this could work.

  • A student in a language arts class could quickly show off their writing and explain the reasoning for what they wrote.  They could also quickly show corrections or changes that are made by the group so that their writing becomes more effective.
  • A science student could show the data they collected in the lab and how they analyzed it to develop their conclusion.  They could even show off simulations to help explain their ideas that they developed from the experiment.
  • A math student could show off the correct graph for an equation or how to solve for that unknown variable.
All of these are quick, little scenarios that show how we can easily have our students sharing their learning.  By giving the students the ability to quickly share with the rest of the class or their group, we can create a more collaborative learning environment.  The teacher is not the sole director of learning and students need to be able to share and compare their ideas in order to develop a deeper level of understanding.
Not to mention it takes very little time for a student to wirelessly connect to an Apple TV when compared to the time it takes to connect their computer physically or to share the item with the teacher who would then connect.
What other pieces of technology can we use in our classroom in order to help form a more collaborative learning environment?

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