Over the last year, Hempfield has been piloting the use of iPads as a replacement for interactive whiteboards. Although there was already a large installation of interactive boards and projectors across the district, problems with connectivity, reliability, and software compatibility forced us to take another look at the options for interactive classroom technology. Updates to iOS, the iPad, the Apple TV, whiteboard software, and wireless network technology made it possible to consider the switch to a tablet-based solution. After a pilot group of 50 teachers reported great success with the solution, the decision was made to adopt the iPad as the standard solution for interactive classroom technology.
At a high level, the solution contains three parts: the iPad, the Apple TV, and the teacher’s laptop. Doceri was chosen as the whiteboard software app because it can operate independently of the laptop, or it can be paired with the laptop to replicate fully most features of the interactive whiteboard. A teacher has the option of projecting from the iPad directly to the Apple TV or pairing the iPad to his/her laptop through Doceri and projecting with a normal VGA cable. In addition to replicating all of the features of an interactive white board, the iPad’s extensive app store provides thousands of opportunities for new ways to use technology in the classroom.
To support the infusion of iPads and Apple TVs, changes had to be made to the wireless network. Aruba Networks is the district’s sole wireless vendor and offers a technology called AirGroup. AirGroup manages and restricts mDNS network traffic (the technology behind the iPad and Apple TV’s autodiscovery and configuration functions). Apple TVs can be set up to appear only to wireless users connected in a certain part of the building. This prevents a huge list from appearing through which teachers would need to scroll. AirGroup also suppresses and prevents the mDNS traffic from flooding the network.
The pilot has been extremely successful and teachers at all levels are looking forward to transitioning to a more flexible solution for interacting with technology in their classroom.
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