Apollo Horizon 2 Overhead Projector[Reprinted by author from www.sageonstage.com]

To this day I remain a big fan of the overhead projector.  I truly believe it was more effective a tool for teaching than the projected Powerpoint slides will ever be.  I stood facing the students, watching their expressions, which I could see since the lights were sufficiently bright.  I could draw on the screen and change directions as questions arose.  In fact I will argue that the 'golden age of college teaching' if there was one was stimulated by the addition of the roller to the overhead projector.  It allowed the combining of student response, just-in-time teaching, constructivist development and several other educational buzz terms in one simple device.

It's been downhill ever since,
...until this semester.

This semester I've purchased an iPad2 and a software application called SplashTop Remote Desktop.  (Truth in advertising, I prefer Apple products but you could do what I'm describing with tabletPCs or even your smartphone — assuming your eyesight is better and your fingers are smaller than mine).  Now I can hold the iPad in my hand, and with LectureTools I can present class, pose questions, draw on the screen and still project wirelessly as I stand or walk around the room.  Finally I can let go of my plastic pocket protector with the rainbow collection of Vis-à-Vis.  I pine for the projector no longer!

To reach this new level of teaching nirvana I have found at least two routes (so far):

  1. The first requires that I simply bring my laptop (as I always did anyway) to class along with whatever cables/dongles needed to connect the laptop to the projection system, and my iPad.
  2. The second does not require the laptop but does require an AppleTV + whatever it takes to connect that to the projector.

In both cases you could use the resulting system to present with KeyNote® but that would be so 90's. I suggest you get a LectureTools instructor account(they're FREE!) and you can show your slides + ask questions of students (multiple-choice, true-false, rearrange lists, image-based and free response — take THAT clickers!) and display the results in real-time + collect and answer student questions + have access to analytical data on student participation + DRAW ON THE SLIDES LIKE WITH AN OVERHEAD!

METHOD #1 iPad + Laptop + SplashTop Desktop Remote
This is my first choice as it allows me to use all the tricks I've collected on my laptop for teaching (including those bad-boy Flash animations that the iPad can't handle!).
Step 1: Pimp Your Laptop Download SplashTop Streamer (it's FREE!) and install on your Mac or PC laptop.
Step 2: Prep your iPad Download SplashTop Remote Desktop to your favorite mobile device (iPad, tablet, phone, iTouch, iPod, God only knows what's next...)
Step 3: Connect the two As long as the iPad and laptop are on the same wireless network you should be able to follow directions to connect the two via "Internet discovery."
Step 4: Classtime The rest will be obvious if Steps 1-3 went well. You can now back away from the podium and walk amongst the students and do whatever it was you used to do standing at the podium. I suggest you invest in an attachment for your iPad so you can easily hold it as you walk. I've tried a "padlette" and a modulR Hand Strap and like the lightness and grip of the former.
METHOD #2 iPad + AppleTV + a Way to Connect to Projector
This allows me to display any tools or websites I can pull up on my iPad (cool or what!). Only downside is if you want to show Flash animations or use software not (yet) ported to the iPad.
Step 1: Set up your AppleTV You'll need to:
  1. Connect the AppleTV to your projector. This may require a simple HDMI cable or, if you have VGA, a HDMI to VGA adaptor like this.
  2. Set up and connect the AppleTV to the wireless network in the classroom using the remote that comes with the AppleTV. Easy to do unless your school, like mine, uses an authentication protocol for their wireless that the AppleTV cannot recognize.
Step 2: Prep your iPad On the iPad double-click the control button to make a row of applications appear along the bottom. Then scroll this to the right and a window will appear where you can choose "AirPlay." AirPlay will allow you to connect to your AppleTV and then whatever you do on the iPad gets wirelessly projected as you wander the halls of the classroom.

So if, like me, your feeling the need to be unleashed from the podium and want to engage your students in more participatory activities during lecture (and we should) then give this a try. Let me know how it goes.

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Tags: LectureTools, SplashTop, college, iPad, teaching


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