Friday, January 2, 2015

Reflections on Reflector by AirSquirrels

This post is going to be like the House that Jack built.  It's good to start with that.

Last summer my school won a big grant to increase our blended learning opportunities.  As part of this, our library has been re-imagined into an amazing collaborative learning space.  The library has been under construction for the first semester of the year, but today there was a staff open house so we could start to plan for how to use it.  There are so many beautiful new learning spaces.  I can't wait to try them all out, especially because 60 classrooms, including mine, are also getting a facelift, so many of our classrooms will look like these new spaces next fall.

My plan is to use one of the collaborative learning spaces on Monday.  My students will be discovering some mass relationships in chemical reactions.  I love the iPad app StoichSim for this.  It uses bars to represent masses of compounds involved in a reaction.  The bars change size to represent the decrease in mass of reactants and increase in mass of products during a reaction.  My plan is to have students play around with the app to answer questions like "Is the smallest mass always the limiting reactant?" or "How do the mass of the products depend on the mass of the reactants?"  Then I'll have the students mirror their iPads to the giant TV mediascape so they can use them to explain their discoveries.

But today, when I saw the mediascape, it turns out that the computers can project to the TV but iPads cannot.  I initially gave up the idea of mirroring the iPads, but, as the open house went on, I started thinking about how I must know a way to mirror the iPad to a laptop so I could project it to the TV.  A quick Google search when I got home reminded me of what I did know, on some level anyway.

Reflector by AirSquirrels.  I met these local guys when I presented at SPARCC this summer.  I was really impressed by their pitch and their products.  For $12.99 I downloaded the software to my MacBook and now I can mirror a mobile device to my MacBook.   Many times I read about apps that claim to be easy, but this one really was.  Open the app, open AirPlay on my iPad, and it reflects on the MacBook.  Very cool!

So if I can mirror the device to my MacBook, I can also screencast what I am doing on my iPad.  Or present off my iPad at conferences.  Or in my classroom.  Without an AppleTV.  Without all the dongles.  Without all the hassle.  I knew that this software claimed it would do this, but I have tried AirServer a number of times with limited success, so I expected this would be equally disappointing.  This worked perfectly on the first try with no glitches.  Excellent! 

This is an app.  This is an app that teaches students about reactions.  This is an app that teaches students about reactions if you can mirror it to the mediascape.  This is the app that will teach students about reactions when you mirror it to the mediascape using Reflector by AirSquirrels.  Now I can't wait to try it on Monday.

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