Gone are the days of fumbling with projector cable cords or digging around for mobile device adapters to switch presenters during class. Now, through tools like Chromecast and Google Cast for Education, Apple AirPlay and Classroom, Miracast, and Intel Unite, both teachers and students can wirelessly project from mobile devices to the front of the classroom.
Here’s an overview of how wireless projecting works and core features of the leading platforms, as well as key benefits and considerations for introducing this tool into your classroom.
Cutting the Cord
While variations in technologies and features exist from platform to platform, wireless projecting essentially enables streamlined, real-time collaboration by accessing and mirroring screens, audio, and video between app-enabled devices. Teachers can orchestrate content and screencasting to a classroom projector, display screen, or interactive whiteboards remotely from their devices. Let’s review the key features on the leading platforms.
Chromecast and Google Cast for Education
Cast for Education features built-in controls for teachers, works seamlessly with the Google Classroom platform, and requires no new hardware. Students make their screens eligible for sharing using the latest version of Chrome or the Chrome extension. Teachers logged in with a Google Apps for Education account can receive casts through the Cast for Education app. The teachers then invite students and select the screen they choose to share or project. Google Cast is now built fully into Chrome too, so users can cast without any installation or configuration.
Apple AirPlay and Classroom
AirPlay wirelessly displays a MacBook or iPad’s screen (also a Windows PC with additional software), including views from the camera, to interactive whiteboards and display screens connected to Apple TV. Apple’s new Classroom app, which offers many of the traditional features of classroom management software, such as remote viewing of all student screens and remote locking of student screens teachers, can create student groups to which they can push specific apps or websites as well as display student screens using Apple TV.
Miracast, an industry wireless display standard supported by the Wi-Fi Alliance, creates a direct wireless connection between an Android and Windows tablet or smartphone and a display screen or a projector, through which users can interact with the displayed content. Miracast also works with many Kindle devices with an enabled adapter.
Unite allows remote and on-site users to collaborate on interactive whiteboards and monitors. It currently works on iPads and is expected to work on Chromebooks by spring 2017.
The Benefits of Wireless Projecting
There are plenty of ways that wireless projecting can add to the classroom, from offering teachers more freedom to providing more clarity to students.
Using 3-D Teaching
Wireless projecting allows teachers much more mobility. Educators can now teach from the back of the classroom or closer to students, allowing less of a lecture style and more of an interactive show and tell. The focus is off the teacher and more on the content. Additionally, moving around the class without interrupting the lesson allows the teacher to retain the attention of students who might otherwise drift off.
Performing Crowd-sourced Collaboration
With wireless projecting and sharing screens, classrooms benefit from the multiplier effect of everyone being able to directly share an idea, example or insight. Lessons can become conversations, and learning can become collaborations.
Pushing the Envelope from Within the Comfort Zone
Students can remain in their seats yet take center stage by sharing from their own devices. This way, they are naturally more comfortable and willing to participate. Projecting classroom assignments and work sessions in real time will particularly help visual learners tremendously.
Moving from Passive Listening to Active Learning
Wireless projecting creates a more interactive learning environment by leveraging student content and examples for the rest of the class. This engages students more, as they may be the next one asked to project what everyone is seeing.
With a wired projector or interactive whiteboard setup, the teacher is limited to displaying content from the connected laptop or desktop. Wireless projecting allows the mobile device’s screen to be added as a second display source for projection. This means teachers can show notes, questions or other content on one part of the classroom screen, and feature other content or other mobile screens on another.
Considerations for an Optimal Experience
While wireless projecting holds many benefits for teachers and students alike, there are a few things to keep in mind as you embark on the journey. Educators will likely need to enlist their IT departments, because not all device combinations are compatible with each other. While interoperability solutions are emerging, certain apps are only compatible with their own platforms. Therefore, you may need multiple display solutions to wirelessly project different types of mobile devices in your classroom. The display devices typically need to be on the same network as well.
For others, wireless projecting is a concern because it allows students to project content, and there is always the chance a student could abuse this privilege by projecting something inappropriate. Finally, new technology and classroom techniques means training and development for teachers. However, all ed tech will require some level of professional development, and it will be up to your school to factor this into the cost.
Takeaway: More educators are starting to introduce wireless projecting to their classrooms with some important benefits. As increasing numbers of schools wrestle with the idea of students using their mobile technology in the classroom and find it challenging to restrict such activity altogether, wireless projecting gives students the opportunity to use their devices within the classroom in constructive, engaging, and collaborative ways.
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