Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Obvious to you, amazing to others: iPhone as a wireless document camera

Today I had one of those "why didn't I think of that?" moments as I was visiting a teacher. He asked me about a way to allow a student or two to mirror their screens through his laptop to project to the class. We tried a couple of options including Reflector and Airserver without great success (laggy, froze the AirPlay receiving computer) and decided to do some updates and try again another day.

As we were having a bit of banter afterwards, he mentioned that he's used Reflector a bit in his class. So I said, "Oh? How do you use it?"

and then he dropped it on me... one of those obvious ideas that just ticks a lot of boxes with me because of it's simple, yet really effective for learning. He, of course thought it was no big deal.

Turns out, he's been using his iPhone, mirroring with AirPlay to his MacBook running Reflector as a wireless document camera! Brilliant.

He walks around the room and monitors students as they're solving problems. When he sees one he'd like to display, he turns on AirPlay mirroring, opens his Camera app and just holds it above the paper as the student is working. The image is projected clearly on the board in the front of the room.  Sometimes he also simultaneously records video of the process or snaps a photo at the end that he'll later post to the class Google site.

There's loads of potential for this to be used in just about any setting including students who have their own iOS devices showing their own work. I'm just grateful that he mentioned it to me, even though it seemed obvious.

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