iPads in the Classroom: Using Reflector to Project Displays

Projecting technology has come a long way since candle slide projectors. Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons.

Projecting technology has come a long way since candle slide projectors. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

One increasingly common question I get these days is from faculty members who want to use their iPads in the classroom or do a video capture from their iPad or iPhone. While there have been a few W&M faculty members who have successfully used their iPads in class over the past few years, these uses have been relatively problematic and have not been without a significant amount of expense and hands-on technical assistance.

Problem: Projecting iOS Device Displays

How do you project your iPad/iPhone display (and audio) to our classroom projectors?

In the past, projecting from an iPad to an external monitor either necessitated a cable (this pretty much kills any spontaneity or ability to walk around) or an Apple TV as an intermediary between your iPad and the projector. While the Apple TV seems like a viable solution, installing a $100 Apple TV unit in every classroom gets to be both expensive and a bit of a networking nightmare.

Solution: Reflector

My new favorite app, Reflector, not only allows you to ditch the cable and the Apple TV, but also lets you project multiple AirPlay devices (iPad or iPhone) simultaneously (side-by-side) directly to your computer. Hook up your computer to the classroom projector, and you’re in business. The software is available for both Mac and Windows, but you do need a wireless Internet connection for your computer to be able to see the AirPlay device.

If you’re using a computer that can create its own local wireless network, then you don’t even need the Internet. Simply create a computer-to-computer network on your computer, fire up Reflector on that computer, and join the newly created network with your iPad/iPhone.

Bonus: A Document Camera

Reflector also lets you use your iPad or iPhone as a document camera. Just turn on your iPad’s camera while Reflector is running and project whatever you see on the screen. Watch the video sample below using Reflector with your iPhone as an in-class document camera.

Another nice feature of Reflector is that you can capture and save the video from your iPad/iPhone as a .MOV file directly to your computer. This allows you to incorporate your iPad apps into flipped classroom environments and more.

And, you have the option to password protect your connection to avoid any hijacking of your projector by a wily student. There are a couple of things I don’t like about the software, for example, the audio out from some applications doesn’t work, but overall, the app does a great job helping you bring the iPad into your classes.

Anyway, at the moment, we have a few licenses available for any W&M faculty members who might like to try out the software on their own computers, so contact me if you’re interested or want to know more about Reflector.


About Mike Blum

Mike is the Academic Technologist for the Humanities at the College