Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Apple TV

When we as group of Mercy teachers returned from our Apple Executive Briefing in Chicago, last winter, we were very excited about the possibility of using Apple TVs in our classrooms.  Some of us were familiar with the Apple TV as a consumer device that allowed folks to stream movies, photos, and other media.   We had never considered how valuable the Apple TV might be in a classroom.
David Mahaley recently summarized some of the advantages of linking our iPads to the Apple TVs:
Photo Source Business Insider
The use of the Apple TV in combination with an iPad in the instructor’s hand provides a mobile platform from which classroom activities can be initiated. Through the use of several apps, teachers can provide notes, display steps and processes to problems, initiate the display of media (pausing and resuming as needed from any location in the classroom), and allow students to participate from their own seats in a variety of interactive activities. This is different than the remote control of a connected teacher laptop to a traditional interactive board. Movement within and between apps is measurably better than the laptop interface, and navigation on the iPad screen directly to the Apple TV is visually more intuitive.

Imagine our delight, when we received grant money over the summer that would allow us to put an Apple TV in each room!  I could hardly wait to try mine out.  I received the necessary training and tested it out before the first day of class.

Unfortunately, when school started and all the Apple TVs were flipped on, we started losing some of our wireless connections.  I know personally, I quit using the Apple TV in class because of these chronic problems.  But thanks to some determined research by Tom James, our IT Director, we identified the source of the problem-- our wireless network.  He eliminated our connectivity issues by making some adjustments to accommodate the traffic that our many Apple TV units generate when they are being used to project the screens of our iPads, 

For the first time, I (and the other teachers) have been able to take advantage the Apple TVs.

To this point, I have been teased with the possibilities of using the Apple TV in the classroom.  Now, I and my colleagues will stretch out our ATVs and take them for a joy ride.

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