I’ve just completed a semester teaching in a classroom with an AppleTV. I had high hopes for using AirPlay on both the Mac and iPad to experiment with some new modes of teaching. In particular, I had hoped to incorporate the TV as a display for figures while developing notes and diagrams of the topic on the chalkboard. As is typical with change, some things worked well, other things didn’t, and still others need a radical new solution in order to work the way I want it to.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download
When it works, AirPlay mirroring is a great presentation tool for the classroom. Part of what makes it great is the wireless-ness of it, which was tempered for me by connection issues (see below). Nonetheless, it feels right and good to present from the iPad without plugging it in to anything — AirPlay and the iPad were made for each other. It’s also a nice feature to use on the Mac, but using AirPlay from the Mac exposes a weakness that isn’t as obvious on the iPad.
It is clear from the name — AirPlay Mirroring — that AirPlay is doing screen mirroring to an external display. This is great for things like movies and games, but when I attach my Mac to an external display, I expect more than mirroring. I expect the external monitor to be an additional display, not an alternate display. For example, I make heavy use of the Presenter Display features in Keynote to be able to see my notes about the current slide and a preview of the next slide (it helps with transitions, and makes me appear to be prepared). When mirroring the display, though, the Presenter Display is not available, and you see the exact same thing on both displays.
I first encountered this on the iPad and assumed it was a limitation due to hardware, but mirroring works the same way on the Mac. UPDATE: Presenter Display works in Keynote for iOS, just not on the Mac (see comment below). It’s unfortunate, and really limits the situations in which I find myself wanting to use AirPlay to present from the Mac.
This brings me to my next point, which is that I have yet to find software that supports the way I want to use the technology. As I mentioned above, I want the display panel to host supplements that I’m not able to draw quickly in chalk: images, micrographs, animations, videos, charts, etc. I would like to place all my supplements for a topic on a light table and pick the one I want to show next. In other words, I don’t want to march through a “deck”, I want to interactively choose from an assortment of thumbnails based on the way the idea is developing in class discussion. I’m surprised this doesn’t exist yet, either as a standalone app, or as a mode within existing presentation programs. Of course, such an app would require that the iPad/Mac display were not mirroring to the presentation display, so maybe it’s a non-starter, but a guy can dream, right?
One of the problems I encountered was technical and has to do with the fact that AppleTV is designed for home networks, not enterprise networks. I’ve written about it before:
The big sticking point with the AppleTV in offices and schools as it stands is that it doesn’t support enterprise-level WiFi authentication.
What this means is that the AppleTV needs to be configured specially from the network administrator side to be able to get on the network. Fortunately our Information Services worked hard to figure out how to make this happen.
In addition to the authentication snafu, apparently many enterprise networks don’t support the protocol behind AirPlay. Our networking vendor here at OWU has slowly rolled out new firmware to support AirPlay, but it’s only been deployed on our guest network. This means I need to switch networks on my Mac or iPad when I get to class to be able to use AirPlay, as the guest network is less secure and therefore inappropriate for day-to-day use. While this sounds like no big deal, in practice, switching networks from either a Mac or iPad is a slow, tedious, unpredictable process. Sometimes the guest network is detected, other times not. Sometimes it prompts me to enter my credentials, other times not. To top it off, when I do manage to join the guest network, AirPlay mirroring doesn’t find the AppleTV about one-third of the time. All of this adds up to a system that is unreliable enough to be unusable for class, at least for now.
To wrap up, there is no real advantage to AirPlay mirroring from the Mac or iPad unless you really require the wireless connection. The loss of Presenter Display is too high a cost for me to pay. Until somebody develops a presentation app that takes greater advantage of AirPlay, or until I find an app that already does, I’ll probably stick with a wired connection.