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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?

Google+ Hangouts

This past couple months my colleague and I have used Google Hangouts extensively to communicate back and forth as we collaborated on several projects. We both operate from our home offices and since he is over two hours away it didn’t make sense to travel back and forth each day, especially given the extensive functionality of hangouts. In the past, pre-Google+, we used Skype, Go-To-Meeting along with several other apps, but none come close to the ease of use and connectedness of Google+.

Now I need to start by saying, we both “drink the Google Kool-Aid”. By that I mean we both use Google extensively in everything we do. Gmail, Drive, Forms, YouTube, Voice, Maps, etc… Hangouts is another cog in the Google machine that extends the collaborative nature of Google’s cloud-based applications.

There are several reasons why I like hangouts over other programs, first being that it uses my Google account so I don’t need another username and password. You can have up to 10 simultaneous video feeds, but if you enable the “On Air” option when you start your hangout, you can broadcast to the entire world (still only 10 video feeds). The “On Air” feature also pushes your video to YouTube that can be accessed at a later date. I can invite individual people from my Google+ contacts list, as well as my circles (multiple people). Google+ send invites via email and once users click on the link they are taken directly to the Hangout.

Hangouts provide several other features that make it a great video conferencing app. There is a chat feature where participants can carry on text-based conversations. The Screenshare option allows for sharing of documents, open windows, or your entire desktop. You can create a collaborative Google doc or drawing from within the hangout environment, giving participants a slate to brainstorm ideas and jot down ideas. And if that isn’t enough, there are additional apps and effects you can add to Hangouts to extend the functionality of the product. If you do decide to try Google Hangouts make sure you try on the pirate hat, just make sure your administrator isn’t on the hangout. Not at a computer, you can download the Google+ app for Android and iOS devices

There are a couple things to consider when using Google Hangouts. The terms of service say you must be above the age of 18 to use any of the Google+ services. However, with teacher supervision classrooms could engage in meaningful discussions with content experts. It is also important to note Google Hangouts is not available on Google Apps for Education at this time.

Google Hangouts is a great resource for teachers and could be used in a variety of ways to connect students and teachers with other educators, professionals, and students from around the world. All it takes is a Google Account. What are you waiting for, give it a try.

Workshops and Resources

At Beyond the Chalk we feel the need to share our experiences and thoughts with our colleagues. This blog will serve as our sounding board where we will post our ideas, thoughts, and sometimes strong opinions. We also have a website where we house all of our training resources and workshop announcements. If you find one of our posts interesting and want to follow up or find more information we will try and link to our main site where you will be able to access presentations, links, and sample lessons. If neglect to include a link, just leave us a comment and we will follow up with you and get you the information you requested. To check out our main site click on the link below:

Beyond the Chalk

Welcome to our Blog!

Beyond the Chalk was co-founded by two educators who believe in the power of education and the need to continuously provide transformational learning experiences for our teachers and students. We feel technology, when used effectively as a tool by teachers and students, can facilitate the change from the traditional form of education to a 21st century paradigm. Beyond the Chalk is committed to providing a set of rich and diverse professional development experiences for all educators. These experiences focus on the integration of technology across grade levels, content domains, and skills levels. We offer trainings around the state and provide school-based professional development as well.

Disp Recorder – iOS Screen Capture

Today I found time to work with an iPad app called Disp Recorder. Disp Recorder records your iOS devices screen in real-time. This is a great app for those of you looking for ways create tutorials on the iPad and iPhone in order to help students and teachers navigate the iOS interface. Once you start Disp Recorder you are able to launch different apps, work within them and all the while your screen movements are being captured. You can do voice narration as you go, so you are able to talk users through each step while they watch the screen movements. Once you have finished the recording, you can upload it to YouTube, save it on your local device, or even open in several other apps. For those of you looking for ways to put together video tutorials for an iOS device, this is a great solution. You can find it on the App store here.

There was an earlier version of this app that had some crashing issues; some of you may have even tried it out, but it seems the developers have worked out the bugs. There are some reviews indicating it lags a bit when recording processor intensive apps (games), but I had no problems with lag. One piece of advice I will give, make sure you don’t put your hand over the microphone or move your hand over the mic during the recording. You will end up with a lot of static and noise in your recording and will likely have to do it over. Check it out

and send us a link to any videos you create (Facebook or comments section).

I have created a short video to demonstrate how the apps works and you can access it her on our YouTube Channel.