The iPad 2 and Apple TV … Ed Tech Industry Killer?

What would you rather get for your classroom, an iPad 2 and Apple TV or an Interactive Whiteboard? Are your teachers asking for Interactive Whiteboards? Hold on to that discussion and don’t answer until you know all of the possibilities!

I think we now have the ability to put together a very highly effective digital classroom with the combination of iPad 2’s, a digital projector, and an Apple TV. All of this can be done at a fraction of the cost of most 21st century classrooms that have combined the use of Interactive Whiteboards. I just don’t know why you would ever want to purchase them anymore.

Maybe we can get rid of the need for document cameras, scanners, clicker hubs, and still or digital video cameras as well?

Perhaps you don’t know about the new possibilities of this fantastic little black box called Apple TV. Check out this post on IEAR.org that explains how you can setup an Apple TV to allow your iPad 2 to become truly wireless.

Now, if you are looking for the rationale on why you might want to go with this new setup, here is mine!

1. You are not locked into a finite space for interactivity with a “computer” and the ability to share with a large audience. One-way to look at it in my opinion is that you are providing your students with a portable Interactive Whiteboard anywhere you want them to interact with the device.

2. As we all know, there are many apps that provide a robust learning experience that are completely interactive and much better than teacher created Notebook files. We just need everyone to understand and learn the benefits of the workflow provided w/ an iPad. For example: Lets give you an example with “Cells”. Students start with iCell App, take a screenshot, mark it up with Doodle Buddy, go back to the iCell App, take a screenshot, mark it up with Doodle Buddy, etc. Perhaps you are using the iPad camera to add images or videos from materials in your classroom as well. Once you have a collection of marked up screenshots, add Replay Note to the mix and you have fantastic possibilities. This is just an example on the fly! This can all be displayed now in real time, at intermittent times of the project, or at the final display of the project.

3. The iPad w/ Apple TV allows your iPad to function as a document camera, still camera, video camera, scanner, e-clicker hub, and Interactive Whiteboard. I argue that you can replace all of that equipment now! How much money is that in savings, $1400 at least? We can add several more of the other devices to that total as well; I haven’t worn a watch in years!

4. The iPad continues to be functional for classroom experiences when you turn off the projector. I have yet to figure out how to do that with a Interactive Whiteboard effectively. I am seeing very little impact from the Interactive Whiteboard software beyond classroom use other than screencasting. The ability to screencast and or record as a document camera through the iPad is so much easier with an easier workflow anyway.

5. The quality of the Interactive Whiteboard software and the lessons provided are over rated. However, with the use of Splashtop on the iPad, you are can still effectively function with the Interactive Whiteboard software.

6. The vast amount of other uses an iPad provides including an e-reader, executive functioning with email, calendar, tasks, reminders, etc.

7. The iPad / Apple TV set up is completely portable. I have yet to see a Interactive Whiteboard get carried under someone’s arm comfortably.

8. Apple TV allows you to use a computer as a media server. When you combine Apple TV’s, you can now pull content from one shared space effectively without a complicated setup for teachers to navigate. Teachers can navigate the Apple TV menu with little to no training. Loading content into photos, video and music is ridiculously easy compared to most media server setups. Additionally, this still allows that computer to be used. For example, we have set our Library Checkout Computer as the Shared Media Resource. You just keep iTunes open and I can pull content to multiple destinations via Apple TV. Previously, our schools had a laptop dedicated to a front “TV” to show slideshows. There is a savings of $900 for my district!

9. Professional Development on an iPad / Apple TV set up in comparison to an Interactive Whiteboard is drastically different. I would love to debate this one with anyone at any time. I have so many examples of very elderly to my 2 1/2 year old who are effectively learning with an iPad. It is painstaking to watch teachers sometimes as they struggle with learning how to use Smart Notebook. You have to remember, teachers are not taking home their IWB and in general, the majority of them do not practice using the software without it attached to the board. However, provide them with an iPad that can mirror and they are using it all the time for the myriad other uses it provides! They are providing their own professional development with the device as a result.

10. We want to see students at the center of the learning. IWB’s continue to be teacher-dominated devices. Teachers appear to be much more comfortable handing over an iPad than they seem to be with bringing the kids. You have to remember, their classmates cannot see what is happening because the students are in the way, etc. Two fantastic colleagues from Illinois, David Sladkey and Scott Miller are two of the best IWB professional development people I know. One of their main lessons is to help teachers to come up with a schema for bringing students to the board. It doesn’t appear to be difficult for teachers to do that with handing over the device to the students.

11. I simply laugh at the savings that you can get from simply using an iPad 2 as a video conferencing tool in comparison to the unbelievable amount of money that has been spent on this technology in other forms. Simply turn on Skype on the iPad 2 and away you go …

There are so many other facets and reasons that I have missed … Can you add to this list? I think you can … I just can’t see the benefits of any other setup for a classroom that even compare at this point! For me, this is all a no-brainer.