Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I've gone untethered!

If a school's IT infrastructure is amenable, one great thing about tablet-based instruction is that those of us who rely a great deal on PowerPoint presentations (which is, at least, an entire blog's worth of discussion) can do wireless presentations.

Wired presentation is almost always an option with a tablet: if you can plug a desktop or laptop computer into a digital projector, you can also plug your tablet in and project your screen. However, this defeats a major advantage of the tablet: form factor. Tablets are meant to be held and carried; this can be a boon for the classroom because tablet instruction can break the bond that tethers the instructor to the area immediately around her/his lectern. Of all of the excitement I have for teaching with a tablet, this is among the most exciting aspects for me: I like to walk throughout my class as I lead discussions, but I absolutely hate having to quickly retreat to the front of the classroom every time I need to flip to the next slide or write on the white board. I admit that a computer remote, which I have, can solve part of this problem, but it also means one more thing weighing down my pockets during class (presentation remote, LASER pointer, multiple colors of dry-erase markers, among other items). I'll write more about tablets replacing white boards in a future post.

Wireless (or "untethered") presentation in the classroom has been on the minds of most of us as we've prepared for teaching tablet-based courses. Our IT folks on campus have been preparing in a number of ways for tablet classes for a year now. The main concern, as far as I'm aware, has been to expand the number of wireless access points to be able to satisfy the concentrated requirement for wi-fi access that will occur when each student in the classroom is online at the same time. Additionally, though, our IT staff have been working to find a solution (available with necessary security features) that would allow us faculty to perform untethered presentations in class. The solution, for now, is to have AppleTVs installed in every DISCOVERe classroom. Eventually, I think most of the faculty would like a more powerful solution that would allow each student in the classroom to be able to present the content on their tablet (with instructor permission) on demand; hopefully a solution to this will be identified soon.

Because I'm teaching in two days, I stopped by my DISCOVERe classroom today to see whether an AppleTV had been installed - and it had!

For my DISCOVERe colleagues (present and future), here's a cheat sheet for wireless presentation in your Fresno State classroom:

  1. Turn the projector on
  2. Set the projector input from VGA/HDMI/etc. to AppleTV
  3. Turn your iPad on
  4. Access AirPlay (single-finger swipe up from the bottom of your tablet screen)
  5. A menu of AirPlay-accessible devices will appear; your classroom's AppleTV should show up with your room number
  6. Select your AppleTV
  7. Set mirroring to "on"
  8. A dialog box will appear on your iPad asking you to enter a numerical code to pair your device with the AppleTV
  9. Enter the code that is displayed by the projector
  10. Present away!
  11. Remember, when you are done, to unpair your tablet from the AppleTV by returning to AirPlay and selecting "iPad" as the source. If the projector now shows the AppleTV screen saver, you were successful.

Last, Rudy mentioned to me that IT had also installed an AppleTV reset button, in response to the concern that some had voiced about occasionally needing to reboot AppleTV. This button has been added to the standard control panel: not near the AppleTV source button, but closer to the volume:

I wish you all success in your educational endeavors this term; to my DISCOVERe colleagues in particular, I hope you all find that your AppleTVs are ready to go as well!

Dr. Joseph Ross
#fsdiscovere #fsboldtablet #rossgenetics #f14

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