Recently the world of television and computer technology has been merging. This has been slow and it has also been slow to recognize. In the recent past there has been a way to display content from a computer onto a television. I often did this in the classroom when I wanted to show video, or present a slide show. It cost me a bit of my personal money, but I found it very useful. Today televisions are lighter and easier to mount onto walls. Televisions with dimensions of 42 to 72 inches are within the price range of most consumers. The resolution of these televisions rivals that of most computer monitors. The problem has been, physically disconnecting yourself from the device. You could, of course, use it as a presentation device with the flat screen television used as an expensive projector. Presentations are either bland with slides filled with too much information or they are so animated that the focus is on the presentation and less on the content. Presentations take time to prepare and are limited by that preparation. I don’t much care for the uni-tasking option of using a television for delivering presentation alone. Technology is expensive and I like to stretch technology as far as I can.
Within the last few years the Apple TV has hit the market. With this device I have also come to appreciate the relationship between television and an Apple TV for instruction. I see the Apple TV as a nexus for teachers between television technology and the role of teacher as facilitator. Todays Apple devices like the iPad and Apple computer can display content through the Apple TV wirelessly. While it can be used to watch video, as in the home, it can also be used to deliver instruction. The laptop is portable but still cumbersome to carry around for instruction. The iPad is portable and light weight enough for any teacher to carry around. Once an iPad is in communication with the Apple TV it can display the contents of any application. There are a variety of whiteboard applications available for the iPad that a teacher can use to take the place of the traditional chalk and white board. I’ve covered these applications in previous posts. Look for my posts on Educreations and Show Me.
With an Apple TV and an iPad a teacher can display web page content, show video, use an application to enhance classroom content, deliver a slide show or use a whiteboard application. The teacher can do all this without being the center of instruction at the front of the class. If students have iPads they too can wirelessly deliver content to the same television. With this technology in place the teacher and students can use it as an incidental focal point for information and pertinent content. The focus of instruction remains with the student as learner and teacher as facilitator.
In a typical lesson a teacher introduces the concept to be learned that day. For example, a teacher might post basic information about a historical figure like Benjamin Franklin. This information could include his name and an image. Students would then use a variety of resources to learn about Benjamin Franklin on their own. Teachers would facilitate with probing questions. Students could individually or in groups develop a presentation to display what they have learned about Benjamin Franklin. The teacher, of course, would provide a rubric for the presentation. Students would then talk to the class about what they learned and use the television to display their information as text or media, which might include images, video or sound. The same can be done for all content areas. This example, is very basic, but it begins to show the possibilities of what can be done in the right classroom environment. A teacher needs a place to write and the iPad provides this option without forcing a teacher to be center stage. White board applications like Skitch, Showme and Educreations fill the need for a teacher to use a white board for specific content instruction.
If you haven’t explored the possibilities of an Apple TV and iPad in your classroom I highly encourage you to learn more about this integration.