Thursday, April 23, 2015

Learning with Technology that Mirrors Daily Lives

As I nosed around the National Education Technology Plan webpage, the quote displayed (below) reminded me that it's April and that I needed to submit an update for a grant I received last year.

The project that received the grant was to help me mirror iPads to my projector screen. This was a hard grant to write because I was unsure of how to word the technical details without losing how it benefits kids. This quote from the Office of Educational Technology would have been perfect.

Project Goal

The goal was to mirror my iPad to limit technology transition time and model acceptable use for students. This provided more opportunities for movement around the room and clarity on technology use expectations. But first, I needed to get the technology figured out.

Solving Tech Issues

Setting up the hardware and software to mirror an iPad to my PC was not easy for me. I don't like waiting days for things, so I bypassed campus techs and did it myself. Shh ...

For the techies reading this post, the hard part was dealing with the fact that the Ethernet and WiFi were on two different subnets. For non-techies, this means the Internet in the air was not the same as the one in the wall. Since iPad mirroring only makes sense to do through WiFi (in the air), I had to get my computer to connect with the WiFi.

I installed a driver for an 802.11n usb reciever to connect the PC to the WiFi. Then, I installed Air Server, a licensed software that was already available to every user in our district. Air Server processes the signal from the iPad to be displayed.

The last step was to make my projector an extension of my monitor. This meant buying a cable and an adapter, which was a piece of cake. It eliminated a splitter box and something else that was in the way and made no sense.

I guess this is the post that will let me know if any of the tech staff reads my blog. I'm not too worried, however. The results speak for themselves.

The Results

It's safe to say that the goal was achieved immediately as students were engaged by the amount of web use we could incorporate into a lesson without stopping the conversation. Our use of search engines to find answers and pose new questions inspired my students to do the same.

Now, when I ask a question, I have a few fact checkers on it right away. It's even better when I throw out vague numbers or date ranges and a hand goes up with the exact facts to enrich our discussion. I love how they set the record straight and feel comfortable correcting me.

The biggest benefit of the mirroring project has been the intended outcome of students using their mobile devices for learning during classroom activities.

What's Next?

The goal is to nurture a truly connected classroom. This means designing learning activities that mirror the ways we learn in our daily lives. With text messaging apps for learning like Chat by Remind and Google Drive for sharing files, the future of digital learning tools is a new kind of flip. It's more pervasive than lecturers giving videos for homework. This flip puts the learning in the hands of the students.

I'm just the captain of the ship with a well-trained crew.