Monday, April 01, 2013

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

Who does not want to share resources wherever they are? Whether showcasing a Web page, a blogs, or a content-rich video, you need to become familiar with the many ways to project and mirror your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini, iPod Touch) to be able to share the resources with larger groups of educators or students.
The first thing you need to do is to open the Safari browser on the tablet, and go to (On a side note, if you are going to want to download clips from DES, try using the mobile browser, iCab Mobile. Here is a quick overview by Mark Hammons on how that is done.) Once you open Discovery Education Streaming in the browser window, you just log in to locate your resource. You can zoom in to have the video fill the screen.
Later on, when you employ many of these methods, you will have to turn on AirPlay Mirroring on your iPad. Until you are connected to an AirPlay device, you do not see the AirPlay icon. To locate the AirPlay icon on the iPad, you double-tap on the home screen, and swipe right in the bottom task bar until you see the icon (shown a 1 below). First, tap on the icon. Secondly, chose the computer you are projecting to (the AirPlay device in this case is KathysMacMini). Thirdly, turn mirroring on.
There are quite a few different options for projecting your iOS device. These options work with the newer iPads and iOS devices. However, most of them require you to be on the same WiFi network as another device. In some  schools, districts, and conference centers, the networks are not set up for this. There is a way to create a private (ad-hoc) network between a computer and a iPad if need be. The devices can then connect to each other wirelessly, but not to the network in the building and probably not to the Internet.
Directions for creating an ad-hoc network on a Mac computer.
  1. Go up to the WiFi symbol on the taskbar on the desktop or laptop.
  2. Pick “Create Network” and you get the “Create a computer-to-computer” network box.
  3. Give it a name, pick either channel 1, 2, or 11, and secure it with a password if you want to.
  4. On the iPad, go to Settings:Wi-Fi and pick the ad-hoc network from the list to connect to it.

Options for mirroring

VGA and HDMI Dongles

The right connector
If you do not need to roam with your iPad, Apple sells adapters (commonly called dongles) that come in VGA and HMDI for both the 30-pin and Lightning ports, and also in DVI for the 30-pin connector. When your iPad is hooked up via a dongle to a projector, monitor, or TV, everything you do on the iPad is projected onto the screen. Teachers often ask if they can project onto the interactive whiteboard. The answer is yes, since all you are doing is replacing the input to the whiteboard with an iPad. However, will not be able to control the iPad from the whiteboard. There is a Smart Notebook app for the iPad available, but it is really intended for showcasing your Smart Notebooks.


Of course, the $99 AppleTV, hooked up via an HDMI cable to a television, monitor, or projector with an HDMI port, allows you to mirror your iPad to the screen wirelessly, over the WiFi network. Both the iPad and the AppleTV need to be on the same WiFi network. The sound comes over to the TV, monitor, or projector, too. However, there is no built-in way to record what goes on.


Reflector is my first choice for mirroring the iPad. It works like this. Reflector is a desktop software program that is available for both the Mac and Windows operating systems. The cost is $14.99 for a license for one computer and $45.99 for a license for five computers. Once you install the software, Reflector turns your computer desktop into an AirPlay device. This means, you can wirelessly stream your iPad’s screen and it will show up on the computer desktop.  Another cool feature is that multiple iPads can be projected to the computer desktop at one time. This is fun if students are all showcasing a photo or created image!
The great thing about Reflector is it not only mirrors, but also moves the sound from your iPad over to the desktop speakers. You are free to roam around the classroom. And, the bonus feature is you can have Reflector record what is going on on the projected iPad screen and save it for future viewings. Watch a short video I made with Reflector and DES: Airplay with Reflector

AirServer is similar to Reflector and works on both Apple and Windows operating systems. The cost is $14.99 for a license for 5 computers, or there is an education option for 3 licenses for $11.99. It, too, runs on the computer, turning the computer into an AirPlay device with the iPad’s audio being transferred to the computer. And it still requires the iPad and computer to be on the same WiFi or ad-hoc wireless network. The only thing that is lacking is the ability to record. (If you have Tech Smith’s Camtasia or Adobe’s Captivate, you can use either of those programs to record the mirrored iPad on the computer.)


Itools is a recent entry into the iPad mirroring arena. It does not allow you to be wireless but it allows you to connect your iPad to a comptuer USB port via the iPad’s USB cable and project your iPad onto the  computer screen. I can get the desktop software to install on the Mac, and can use some of the functions, but I have tried the mirroring function on three different machines and cannot get it to work. I tried it on Windows 8, and it gave me the message “the iOS on your Apple Device is not supported” when I tried to display the iPad’s screen. (I currently have 6.1.3.)  However, some educators are having good luck with it, so give it a try!

You can see there are many ways to mirror the iPad. When it is imperative that it works, carry an iPad VGA dongle (or an AppleTV and the Kanex ATV Pro connector if you want to roam with the iPad). This set-up will always work. You can experiment with both Reflector and AirServer and try to use them, too, but sometimes even the ad-hoc network does not work and the iPad and computer cannot see one another.