Instructional technology takes so many forms. In some buildings that may mean simply having a computer lab of desktop computers. In others, you may find SMART Boards and laptops in every room. And, in some of the more advanced classrooms, you may find an Apple TV serving as a media hub for a teacher (and possibly students) with an iPad. The question, “What can I do with an Apple TV in the classroom?” has been asked of me quite a bit – this post should help to identify how to set it up, what it can do, and some ways you can use it in the classroom.

What is Apple TV?

Before we talk about how to configure/set it up, it makes sense to get a working understanding of what the device actually does.

The Apple TV:

  • lets you stream the movies and TV shows available on iTunes to the HDTV or Projector connected to the Apple TV
  • stream Netflix content
  • allows you to stream content from iOS devices using Airplay
  • Display your iPad 2,3/iPhone 4S screen on your HDTV or projector via Airplay Mirroring

The Apple TV points of consideration:

  • The Apple TV really is most beneficial if you have iTunes, an iOS device, or are a Mac based school.
  • The Apple TV is not a computer. It really does rely on other devices to make it most functional.
  • Connection possibilities are limited. HDMI is the main output. There are ways around this, however. See here.


How to Set it up in Your Classroom


First things first. Determine what you will be connecting it to – and that will determine how you will set it up. If your classroom has an HDMI enabled device (HDTV or a projector with HDMI input) you are good to go, setup will be a breeze.

If you do not have an HDMI capable device in your classroom, consider purchasing this device to convert the signal to VGA so you can output from the Apple TV to any screen that has a VGA input. The majority of projectors and interactive whiteboards have this type of connection, making this accessory a great little product. Also, note that the accessory has an audio out port, preserving the audio from the HDMI cable, something that many devices like this do not do well (or at all).

The next step is connecting the Apple TV to your network. Obtain the wireless key from your IT coordinator and simply enter that when prompted when you first plug in your Apple TV. If the ATV has been setup before, just navigate to Settings -> Network and enter the setup for a new wireless network.

If your IT person is not interested in telling you the password, see if they will set it up for you. If this even fails, all hope is not lost. If you have a Mac, you can quickly create an AdHoc network to which you can connect your iPad and your Apple TV. Mind the fact that you will no longer be connected to the internet, but many of the uses don’t require an active connection.


Uses in the Classroom


This is when the Apple TV gets fun. Each person I talk to has a different use for their Apple TV, but the general method of use is pretty much the same. I will take you through some of the logistical methods of use that will then let you apply your own needs of use to the ATV easily.

The most common use of the Apple TV in a classroom is iPad screen mirroring. Thanks to AirPlay, the iPad 2 and above and the iPhone 4S will let you wirelessly display your device’s screen on a HDTV/Projector that is connected to your Apple TV. This is great for the classroom as sharing Apps and tutorials via the iPad are becoming more popular.

Considering mirroring works iOS wide, you can share just about anything you do on your iPad with your class. Here are some ways we (and our friends) use the Apple TV in the classroom:

  • YouTube videos
  • Seamless transition between video clips (comparison between renditions of a play, perhaps)
  • Annotate documents live with your students
  • Display pictures of student/teacher work
  • Demonstrate apps
  • Play review games (many free ones available on the app store)
  • Subscribe to Netflix? Show relevant documentaries or shows.
  • Rent thousands of titles from the iTunes store.
  • Use as an interactive whiteboard (whiteboard apps)
  • Access to iTunes U videos
  • Use of the Khan Academy app
  • Creative project presentations (student ice-breaker collages)
  • Walk the room while still remaining connected
  • In a 1:1 iPad deployment, students can share their screen on the Apple TV
  • Use as a document camera
  • And many more (as many of these can be easily expanded upon)


Starting up iPad Mirroring


So, you have some good uses in the classroom. Here’s how you being mirroring your iPad’s screen to the Apple TV.

1. Turn on the TV/Projector connected to the Apple TV.

2. Ensure each device is on the same network.

3. Double tap the home button on the iPad.

4. Swipe to the right until you see the options below:

5. Tap the button that is blue in the image above. This displays the available devices for use with AirPlay.

6. Tap on your Apple TV’s name and then slide Mirroring to ‘On’.

7. That’s it – your iPad should now be showing on the screen connected to your Apple TV!


Final Thoughts


For $99, you really can’t beat it. If you don’t have an interactive whiteboard, but you do happen to have an iPad, this is a really cheap way to enable whiteboard functionality (with so much more, in my opinion).

The freedom the Apple TV gives you to engage with students around the classroom (since you’re not tethered to a cable) is invaluable. For those who rely on technology in the classroom but also love moving throughout the room, this is the device you needed yesterday.

We are constantly coming up with uses for the Apple TV, you will to. Getting it is really the first step – understanding how you will use it daily comes with trial and error. Don’t be afraid to try new things.

If you do come up with a cool way to use the Apple TV, please let us know! Post in the comments or tweet to me @InstTechTalk .