November, 2012

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Screen Mirroring – An AirPlay Alternative


With iOS tablet devices taking alarger share of the education market each year it has become increasingly important to find solutions for projecting your tablet onto a projector screen, especially in a 1-tablet classroom. There is always the tether option, where you connect your device to the projector using a “dongle” or cable of some sort. This technique works in a pinch, but you loose the ability to be truly mobile. For the purposes of this blog post we will look at a couple

viable options for iOS devices.

The iPad currently is the tablet of choice in education circles and for good reason. The overall design and functionality of the iPad along with the abundance of education apps make it a great option for teachers and students alike. Sharing teacher resources and student work on the iPad is an important part of fostering a collaborative learning environment. Enter stage left Apple TV. When I first saw the Apple TV I knew it could, if used properly, be a game changer in education. And at $99 retail it is somewhat affordable. Apple TV uses AirPlay, a wireless technology that allows devices to share data over the same wireless network.

So what happens if you don’t have the dollars in your budget to outfit every classroom with an Apple TV? The other day we had the opportunity to test another viable option called AirServer thanks to Jeff Armstrong, Sheppard School IT guy. AirServer is an AirPlay receiver that supports full HD 1080P video and is available for either your Mac or PC. Yep, you can run this on either platform. AirServer is a program you install onto your desktop or laptop (whichever is connected to the projector)and when connected to the same network, you connect via AirPlay, the same way you connect to Apple TV. Once connected to AirServer you will be able to project your iPad/iPhone/iPod screen onto your computer screen and from there you are able to project onto a larger projector screen. The best part about this app is the cost. You can download and try for it free for seven days or buy a student license (authentic education email address required) for $11.99 that allows you to add it to 3 computers. If you need more you can try out the 15-license education pack. Cost is $3.99 per license making the total cost of 15 licenses around $60, $40 less than one Apple TV.

AirServer works similar to the Apple TV with one major difference, you can have multiple devices connected and displayed on your computer at one time. While this is not often a need, it may come in handy if you have several different resources to share or if you need to compare two different documents, possibly even two different samples of student work. As is the case with all wireless systems, the better your network the better the results. If you are looking for an AirPlay solution, this might be just what you need. Give it a try for seven days for free.

Satellite Imagery and the World Below

In the recent aftermath of the hurricane that ripped through the north eastern states and the fires that plagued the western part of the United States this past summer, I was reminded of the wealth of remotely sensed imagery (satellite and aerial photography) that exists and is easily accessible via the web. Shortly after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the Atlantic coast there were images posted showing before and after shots of a coastal region. The extent of the damage was clear, with houses destroyed, roads and bridges washed out, and tons of debris left on lawns and in streets (see images here).

Remotely sensed Imagery (see background information here) is available on the web from many different sources and while real-time imagery is not available there are some sites where you can find imagery that is about 2.5 hours old. Below are several sites and links to some of the more common online resources.

My favorite site is the NASA MODIS Rapid Response system that provides near real-time imagery from several different satellites. There are several features within the system that make it easier to find data. Hazards and disasters is a subset featuring a variety of natural and man-made disasters. And if you are looking for near real-time imagery, click on the MODIS Near Real-Time (Orbit Swath) Images. This will give you access to images captured by the Terra and Aqua Satellites.

Satellite-Imagery-SliderNASA Earth Observatory is another great resource that provides high-resolution imagery. It also breaks imagery into different categories to make it easier to find the information you are looking for. There are global maps that track all types of changes happening on the earth’s surface, as well as the atmosphere. The featured category highlights some of the better-known imagery sets. The most amazing earth feature I’ve seen captured in imagery is the Shrinking Aral Sea. Click on the year buttons to see the changes.

There are many other sites that can be found through a simple search on Google. NOAA has a great site when looking for atmospheric imagery. The Landsat satellites have offered the longest continuous record of the Earth’s surface and provide a longitudinal look at the Earth from space. For those of you looking for a different spin on imagery the USGS site, Earth as Art has captured some of the more visual appealing images from space. And for a little different look at the Earth, NASA hosts a site called Astronaut Photography of Earth. This site features images captured by the astronauts that have participated in the many different missions to space.

For additional imagery resources click here to go to the links found on the page.

Add a comment below if you have a favorite site for imagery?