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> Apple TV vs Interactive Whiteboards in the Classroom - Instructional Tech Talk



Building Tech appletv

Published on October 16th, 2012 | by Jeff Herb

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Apple TV vs Interactive Whiteboards in the Classroom

 

There have been several posts on the web discussing what makes the most sense to purchase for the classroom, an Apple TV setup or an Interactive Whiteboard. While it’s great to say one is better than the other,  I would like to show you the differences between the two setups and break each setup down into categories to see which outperforms the other.

 

The Setup

Before we wage battle, let’s identify the components involved in each setup.

 

Apple TV

  • Epson LCD HDMI Projector
  • or Existing VGA Projector with Kanex Adapter
  • Apple iPad
  • Apple TV
  • Logitech Speakers
SMART Board
  • SMART Interactive Board (4:3 version)
  • LCD Projector
  • Wall Mount
  • VGA Cabling
  • USB Audio System
  • Professional Installation

 

The Costs

 

Apple TV

  • Epson PowerLite 95 Projector – $645
  • or Existing VGA Projector with Kanex Adapter – $60
  • Apple iPad – $499
  • Apple TV – $99
  • Logitech Speakers – $79

Total w/Projector – $1,322
Total w/out Projector – $737

SMART Board

  • SMART Interactive Board – $1350
  • LCD Projector – $645
  • Wall Mount – $245
  • VGA Cabling – $50
  • USB Audio System – $240
  • Professional Installation – $149

Minimum Total – $2,679

Apple TV wins this round as you have the ability to buy two full Apple TV setups for the price of one SMART Board.

 

Diversity of Equipment

 

Apple TV Setup

Where do I begin. First of all, you gain an iPad using this setup. This is almost worth it as it is. The iPad can be used for so many things, especially in education, that its worth is likely higher than its sale price. The fact that you get the iPad, Apple TV, and Projector in this setup gives you a pretty diverse set of tools to do just about anything you can think of with display technology. If you add your computer into the mix (especially if it is a Mac running Mountain Lion), your options increase dramatically as well. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the iPad and Apple TV combination allows for behaviors very similar to that of a SMART Board. There are whiteboard apps available to allow for users to use their iPad as the whiteboard. This coupled with Airplay mirroring makes for a pretty great setup.

SMART Board

Short of being an interactive whiteboard, the only diversity this equipment offers is the ability to be an always ready projector system. It’s great to have an all inclusive system to just ‘plug into’ but your functionality beyond the touch panel and the projector is limited.

The winner here for diversity of equipment is the Apple TV setup.

 

Ease of Use

 

This category is a tough one. Out of the box, and due to it being a ‘constantly setup’ solution, I believe that the SMART Board is easier to use in its most basic form. That is certainly not to say that the Apple TV setup isn’t easy, because it really is. But the ready to go whiteboard setup requires a press of a button to start projecting your screen (of your laptop). The only thing that makes the Apple TV setup more complicated is that there are several components to the setup to worry about.

That said, once you start diving into SMART Notebook software I believe the Apple TV setup becomes easier to use. SMART Notebook is well designed, but is cumbersome and sometimes confusing (likely since we are so accustomed to PowerPoint).

At the end of the day, a consistent setup will always be used more – so by default I side with SMART on this one.

 

Adaptability

 

The SMART Board by itself is actually quite dumb. You MUST have a computer to use the features that make an interactive whiteboard come to life. That being true, the SMART Board is hardly adaptable – sans the fact that you can hook several video output devices to it.

When you combine the power of an Apple TV, WiFi enabled projector, and Apple iPad, your adaptability of technology is nearly endless. You could use the Apple TV, iPad, and projector in various combinations to enable different types of activities. The nicest part of this system is that you don’t need the whole system in order for functionality to be present. You could stream Netflix from the Apple TV to the projector and still have the iPad to use for something else.

For the reason that you can independently use the components, the Apple TV setup reigns supreme in adaptability.

 

Upgradeability

 

Lets face it – technology changes. Especially Apple technology. Are SMART Boards upgradeable? Sure…it just costs the price of a new SMART Board. The Apple TV components can be individually upgraded and still work with the other devices. This allows the classroom to be incrementally upgraded (new iPad one year, Apple TV the next, projector the following, etc).

With the speed of innovation, you never want to be stuck with technology that is outdated and still costing you money. You want to be able to swap out parts that no longer integrate with what is important – your curriculum.

For this key reason, the Apple TV is the way to go to stay up to date.

 

Recap

 

Category

The Costs

Diversity of Equipment

Ease of Use

Adaptability

Upgradability

Leader

Apple TV

Apple TV

SMART Board

Apple TV

Apple TV

Overall, for the price and for the extra dimensions it brings to your classroom, the Apple TV setup is the way to go when adding some interactivity to your classroom. Questions about the setup or how to go about purchasing/installing? Post in the comments and let’s start talking!


About the Author

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Jeff Herb is an Educator, Blogger, and Podcaster focusing on Instructional Technology and finding ways to innovate the classroom using technology. Follow Jeff on Twitter to keep up with the latest in Educational Technology.



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  • http://twitter.com/tpshimmons TPS

    I love the write up. I think you are missing a critical component – What can you do with a SmartBoard that you CAN NOT do with an iPad setup? And vice versa as well.

    • http://instructionaltechtalk.com/ Jeff Herb

      Thank you for the comment, TPS. You bring up a great point and an excellent area for improvement in this article. I will work on that section and update the post. Thanks again!

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  • AllTech

    Your costs are way off, the SMART Board set-up is much more than you are factoring in.

    Where you are even further off is comparing these two technologies as being competing products, they might compete for the same technology dollars, but inherently they are not similar enough to compare them side by side. These are both great peripheral tools in the digital classroom and enhance each other better when properly implemented and used in the same space.
    My appletv is a great home appliance to stream netflix through, but from an educational perspective; its inability to mirror more than 1 apple device simultaneously and its inability to work with any other devices besides apple is a deterrent. The Key is Interoperability between all educational tools and this is very limited and proprietary.
    Sure it is fun to do a vs. comparison on two hot products, to get people to read you blog, but this really should have been a compare and contrast so you don’t come off sounding like you have an agenda.
    In closing, I am not here to push products, but there are much better solutions on the market than appletv, and they work with whatever mobile device someone brings to class.

    • http://twitter.com/MmeLayman Lissa Layman

      Would you please share your ideas for “much better solutions on the market”? Very interested! Thank you!

    • http://instructionaltechtalk.com/ Jeff Herb

      Thanks for your comment, AllTech.

      Actually, the installation cost is what our building was last charged for installation per SMART Board – so at least from our vendor that price is accurate as of about 2 weeks ago.

      I understand and appreciate your concern about me pitting the two technologies as competing products – clearly they are not in the same category. If we were to do a competing article, something like a SMART Board and a Promethean Board would make more sense. What I was looking to highlight is that you can accomplish many of the same things you can on a SMART Board with the Apple TV setup listed above. With whiteboard apps on the iPad, you still retain the ability to interact with the projector/screen in a similar way as the SMART Board. Is it the exact same? No. Does it offer similar functionality? In many cases, yes – plus you end up with some technology that will let you do way more.

      I don’t have an agenda and I’m not trying to plug any particular products here, just relaying what I’ve seen work in my building to give some realistic options for people who may be looking to try something different.

      I would love to hear some of the solutions you have found that would work with various devices!

      Thanks again for your comment.

      Jeff

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  • Macbrain

    And we need wifi with Apple TV/IPAD

    • http://instructionaltechtalk.com/ Jeff Herb

      Very true. If your building does not have a WiFi network, and you happen to have a Mac computer, you can easily setup an AdHoc wireless network through your computer to connect your devices in the classroom. I will look into doing a post about how to do this.

      Thanks for pointing this out, Macbrain!

      • Chris

        I just wanted to add that the Apple TV, at least the prior version that I own, does not work with a AdHoc network. But Reflection does.

        Also…what SMART Board are you discussing? Our 16:9 SMART Boards were significantly more expensive.

        • http://instructionaltechtalk.com/ Jeff Herb

          Interesting – have been able to setup an ATV on an AdHoc network, it is a newer ATV though.

          I am discussing a 4:3 SMART Board. Yes, it is true that the 16:9 versions are more expensive. We stayed with the 4:3 because they were cheaper and for uniformity among the classrooms.

          Thanks for your comment!

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  • http://twitter.com/MmeLayman Lissa Layman

    I’ve been experimenting with Reflection App instead of Apple TVs for our teachers (we’re 1:1 w/ iPads). A MUCH cheaper alternative and so far I can’t think of any disadvantages!

    • http://instructionaltechtalk.com/ Jeff Herb

      Yes, I have been experimenting with Reflection App, too! It seems pretty solid and I am thinking that you can likely ditch the Apple TV if you are only looking to mirror the iPad to a screen. Thanks for bringing up Reflection App, Lissa!

      Jeff

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  • http://twitter.com/mgranger114 Matt Granger

    I disagree. The power of the SMART Board is SMART Notebook software. What did you mean by, “SMART Notebook is well designed, but is cumbersome and sometimes confusing (likely since we are so accustomed to PowerPoint).” What is so cumbersome? Why is it so confusing? It uses basic graphics program techniques (grouping, layering, etc) that most of the PPT users I’ve seen have no idea how to use. Learning SMART Notebook makes them learn those. Sure, there are no fancy animations to bring things onto the page, as in PPT, but the point of SMART Notebook is to increase interactivity. Pulling the text on with an arrow or revealing the next point with the eraser allows students to get involved. Does that make it better? Not necessarily. But it does get students involved, and that has to be a good thing.

    Also, SMART Notebook allows teachers, and students building lessons or presentations, to use the flash file activities, and now the widgets, included in the Lesson Activity Toolkit in the gallery. You can’t do that in PPT. As a presentation option, and lesson creation software, Notebook is superior to PPT, in my opinion.

    As for the whiteboard apps on the iPad, they can’t do what SMART Notebook does either, except for theSMART Notebook App, and it is limited too. There are awesome apps for the iPad, but I don’t think there is anything that comes close to being comparable to what you can do in SMART Notebook. Many people criticize Interactive White Boards (IWB), and teachers who just use it as a “glorified white board”, because they are teaching the same old way with expensive equipment. Most of the iPad whiteboard apps I’ve seen generally allow the user to do just that, use it as a whiteboard. In that sense, the iPad doesn’t match up. A properly used SMART Board and SMART Notebook software moves way beyond this.

    That said, I don’t condemn teachers who are using a SMART Board as a whiteboard, if that is the level they are at. Being able to save the lesson to add interactive elements later as they advance their SMART Notebook skills and pedagogy is valuable in itself. Those lessons can evolve over time.

    Lastly, SMART Notebook is the hub of all the other devices: SMART Document Camera, SMART Response clickers, SMART Wireless Slate. This makes it easy to introduce another component because once the user knows how to use SMART Notebook software, the other things just work. Sure, other doc cams or clicker brands don’t work as seamlessly as the SMART doc cam and SMART Response clickers, but an Android tablet doesn’t work with an Apple TV either. That’s how companies make money. It is also how Apple maintains that their hardware and software work together and there are less issues than Windows. They control the hardware and software, so they can ensure that compatability. SMART does the same thing with their hardware and software. Microsoft struggles with Windows compatibility because the PC manufacturers use all kinds of different component manufacturers when building their machines, and each has to install another driver. They don’t all get along. That is analogous with using so many different apps on the iPad to do the things that SMART Notebook and SMART hardware can do together. The user has to learn so many different apps (a whiteboard app, a polling app or website) instead of just one. And those various apps and sites don’t integrate like the SMART solution.

    BTW, I would be considered an Apple Fan Boy but most. I have only had Macs. I have an iPhone 4S, and a 3rd Gen iPad. I’ve had a total of 6 different iPods over the years, so it isn’t anything against Apple. As a matter of fact, I buy Apple because of the tight integration and quality of their products.

    • http://instructionaltechtalk.com/ Jeff Herb

      Thank you so much for your detailed response, Matt – you bring up some very valid points here.

      My remarks about SMART Notebook come from my interaction and discussion with our teachers that use (or attempt to use) the Notebook software in their classroom. I definitely agree with you – tech acquainted individuals will have minimal issues using the Notebook software. What I worry about are the people that barely have a grasp of PowerPoint who are then asked to use Notebook – which as you mention employs some basic graphics software techniques. While basic, I know that many of our teachers barely have the patience for PPT, let alone layering, grouping, and attempting to integrate flash, etc. Overall, you’re right, the software isn’t any more complicated than some of the features of PowerPoint. But, to effectively use the Notebook software, you need to know some advanced info.

      Good comment about “glorified white boards.” I see it even more extreme in our building. They are sometimes just reduced to permanent projector screens. From seeing that pretty regularly, a projector and screen (with the ability to use an iPad w/ATV) seems like a nice trade off.

      Thanks for bringing up the other SMART accessories that are available, that was something that should have been mentioned in the article. Maybe it’s because we’ve never had the money to buy the extras, or perhaps because teachers and I have found viable alternatives, but we really don’t have any SMART branded accessories to supplement the boards. Many teachers replace the clickers with web-based software and the doc cameras with 3rd party cameras that cost <$100.

      My favorite comment you made was the point about "Being able to save the lesson to add interactive elements later as they advance their SMART Notebook skills and pedagogy is valuable in itself. Those lessons can evolve over time." Such a great point. Ultimately, teachers need to focus on their instruction and content. If it means not using a technology to its fullest potential, so be it. There is always room for improvement.

      Thanks again for your thoughtful response, Matt. I look forward to more discussion with you in the future.

    • http://twitter.com/techinmusiced Techinmusiced

      Important to note (in all honesty): Matt is a SMART Board trainer (I was once certified as well, chose not to be for SMART Notebook 11). Some SMART-certified trainers are able to reap some financial benefit (training sessions) based on that certification.

      I teach at a high school which has a SMART Board in every classroom. We have found that nearly all our teachers are reverting to using PowerPoint, as it is the defacto standard in business (and education). SMART knows this, too, as it has created Ink-Aware overlays for all of the Microsoft Office suite, including PowerPoint. There are certainly interactive features in SMART Notebook that are excellent…but it is a stretch to think that Notebook is superior to PowerPoint. I’ve been using Keynote on Mac and iPad, and I’m finding that Keynote has some wonderful features, too. What matters is how well your program of choice works for you. For most educators, that seems to be PowerPoint.

      The flash-based activities have their place in education, but like all things have to be set-up and can be over-used. The plethora of existing shared SMART Notebook presentations often take so much tweaking that you are better of simply recreating lessons from scratch instead of using crowd-sourced materials.

      This is going to sound sassy, but if you have a SMART Board, and all you ever use it for is as a glorified white board, or as a projection surface–then truly, shame on you. All teachers should be trying new things…not always…but on a somewhat consistent basis. If you need help, ask. There are many of your fellow teachers that will help you. But if you NEVER go beyond the IWB as a glorified white board, something is wrong.

      And finally, the iPad can act as many of the SMART peripherals, all-in-one. It can be a slate. It can be a document camera (iPad 2 and above). It can be used as a clicker (with programs such as Socrative or Poll Everywhere). It can even be used as a Scantron machine (see Grade Cam).

      There are things that the iPad can’t do…yet. Examples? You cannot use music files in Keynote presentations or save audio from the iPad to the iPad’s music library. So some elementary music educators might find better use of a SMART Board to make interactive sound links than with an iPad. Even in that case, there are so many apps and other solutions that it would be hard to justify the cost. I can also see why some math teachers would want the drawing ability of a SMART Board.

      By the way, by the time we install a 16:9 SMART Board, sound system, and wall-control system, we’re looking at $8000 per unit. $$$!!!

    • Sam L

      I know this is an old post, but you have said everything I’ve wanted to say about INTERACTIVE SmartBoards…key word being “INTERACTIVE”! Not all classrooms are lucky enough to have an iPad for every student. (We have ONE iPad that we share with 20 kids). I am a self professed Apple “fan-girl”…(Once you Mac…well you know the saying) however, I still use both AppleTV (For projection ONLY) and Smart Notebook for Interactivity in my classroom. Smart Notebook 11’s website “Smart Tech” has awesome, teacher made, “interactive” lessons ready for download at a click of the button that can be tweaked to satisfy every teacher’s needs. I work in a school where a lot of teachers claim to “use” the Smart Board, but in reality, they are simply using them as glorified whiteboard/projection screens. The whole purpose of SmartBoards is that they are INTERACTIVE! Using it with Apple TV renders the interactivity part useless (unless you have enough iPads to go around the class or you choose to “pass” the single iPad around the room). Until iOS 7 is released in the fall, AirPlay, as of this writing, doesn’t even work with Mac Book Pro/MacBook Air, meaning that you need a 3rd party app (such as, Reflector) to mirror your iPad to your MacBook. Even then, with the MacBook connected to the SmartBoard via USB, it is still NOT interactive. (It would be nice if you could use AirPlay to reflect to your MacBook which is hooked up to your SmartBoard via USB and make the iPad “interactive” without being tethered to your computer) Maybe AirPlay on iOS7 will address this, but as of now, if you are using your $2,000.00 SmartBoard as a glorified whiteboard, then YES, you are wasting money. But the SmartBoard is SO MUCH MORE than that! Yes, making your own lessons can be a little time-consuming, but Smart Notebook has addressed this by making literally thousands of pre-made lessons available on their Smart Tech Website FOR FREE! Simply search for what you want by grade/subject and voila…literally thousands of lesson plans are ready for download straight to your Smart Notebook file. To compare the two is like comparing apples to oranges. SmartBoards are called INTERACTIVE SmartBoards for a reason and using them simply as “projection screens” for iPads/Computers obviously defeats the purpose. BOTH have a place in the classroom…Apple TV for projection only (NetFlix…Itunes…YouTube) and Smart Notebook for the interactivity it provides for whole class instruction. When used with Elmo Document Camera, it’s an invaluable asset to any classroom.

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  • M2L

    You can do all of the things listed in this article and comments with the following: desktop (no monitor required),VGA projector, SMART Notebook, iPad 2 ($400), AirServer app for PC ($15/yr. for 5 PCs) wall. Save your money and invest your time!

    • http://instructionaltechtalk.com/ Jeff Herb

      Very true – basically just replacing the Apple TV with the AirServer App. Good suggestion, @fca1b158b24cedec1fa9c3c838c1d1af:disqus

      Thanks for the comment!

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  • TC

    While I agree with most of what you said, you sid not touch upon the difficulty in using AppleTV and bonjour in an enterprise network. I would be interested in your thoughts about that?

    • http://instructionaltechtalk.com/ Jeff Herb

      Thanks for your comment/question, TC.

      We are on an enterprise network that uses Active Directory authentication to connect to Cisco access points. While we did need the network admin to help us with a couple settings, the device performs perfectly within a dominantly PC/Windows environment.

      If that is not an option for you with network restrictions, what @twitter-85340420:disqus recommended is to use AirServer, which is a $15 option that will achieve much of what you ultimately want. In my experience, it is not as reliable of a connection as my connections have been with the Apple TV, but it definitely works.

  • Christine Haynes

    Seems to me the biggest difference between Apple TV and any IWB is that with Apple TV sharing can occur from anywhere in the room, by anyone with an iPad. No teacher or student required at the front of the room!

    • http://instructionaltechtalk.com/ Jeff Herb

      True. That is definitely one of the biggest differences – especially when you have a 1:1 classroom where students can easily throw their screen up to the Apple TV – somewhat redefines sharing.

      Thanks for your comment, Christine!

  • http://twitter.com/BCoyTech Ben Coy

    Is anyone out there giving Airserver a go in the classroom? It handles airplay from iOS but is $15 as opposed to the $99 Apple TV. Its a pc/mac download and allows mirroring of iOS devices to your computer. So, if you’ve got an i/pad/pod/phone that you want to mirror, a projector, computer, and screen/SmartBoard already, it might not be a bad solution.

    • http://instructionaltechtalk.com/ Jeff Herb

      Hi Ben, thanks for your suggestion.

      I have used AirServer and do like it very much. I actually tend to use AirServer when I am presenting outside of the building more than when I’m at my base building. I find that I have more stable connections using Apple TV, but AirServer is definitely part of my tech tool arsenal. Perhaps it is just our network? Would love to hear feedback from others.

      Thanks again for the comment.

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  • Jonathan Jacks

    I’ve had the oppourtunity to use both Apple TV and a Smartboard in my classroom. After spending 6 months with both I quit using both.
    I now use a Wii Remote Smoothboard setup (that in and of itself provides a wonderful teaching tool on the EM spectrum). The biggest reason being I can control the size of the surface. I have a large classroom. Neither the Apple TV setup or the Smartboard setup provided enough surface area for the kids in the back of my classroom to see.
    The added benefits of this setup include:
    1. You don’t lose the ability to run flash or javascipt (which are used extensively on education websites).
    2. The learning curve tends to be much smaller.
    3. Costs are drastically minimized.
    4. Portability. The entire setup can be placed on a rolling cart. (the same as the Apple TV setup)
    I would highly recommend anyone considering purchasing either an Apple TV setup or a Smartboard to look into setting up a Wii Smoothboard. More information can be found by entering the following search phrase into Google: “Wii Smartboard TED”. The first result should be the TED talk given by Johnny Lee. Watch it.

    • http://instructionaltechtalk.com/ Jeff Herb

      @google-fef8e8e8c9a4a837914c5018b58cee65:disqus – Thank you for your suggestion, the Wii Smoothboard looks like an amazing way to create an interactive board for a very small amount of money. I will definitely be putting a post together around this topic – if you have any further insight please contact me and I will include it in my write-up.

      Thanks again, Johnathan!

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  • Kris

    1) Apple is NOT designed for education. It is designed for consumer use.
    A)
    Apple devices are designed to be used on single subnet networks. Most
    schools are multi-subnet networks. This is by design since Apple only
    intended the Apple TV and such devices to be used in the hom.
    B)
    Having several Apple TV’s in a building “broadcasting” their name may
    cause the devices to not work correctly. Again the design is to have
    one Apple TV in a home environment – not 30 in a area environment such
    as a school.
    C) You will have to secure the Apple TV because any
    student can be in a hallway and potentially take over the Apple TV. You
    have to train the teachers on how to do this.

    I am in IT for schools and have repeatedly talked to Apple directly about all
    aspects of Apple in education. Don’t even get me started with Apple
    ID’s in education – which you need to have with an Apple TV/Macbook/iPad
    if using apps through it.

    Bottom line – Apple is a
    great product but in education it’s like fitting a square peg in a round
    hole. When in doubt remember Apple is designed for consumer use and I
    seriously doubt they will change their entire model for education.

    • http://instructionaltechtalk.com/ Jeff Herb

      Interesting perspectives here – thanks for sharing!

      I know many districts that are operating 100% Apple products and are working flawlessly. I think it is all in how you setup your system. If you design it from the beginning to work seamlessly with Apple products, then it will. If you try and retrofit Apple devices onto an Enterprise network, you’re going to run into some problems.

      For the record, AppleTV devices do not conflict if setup correctly. I have worked with several schools that have an Apple TV in almost every classroom and have had no issues.

      I understand what you’re saying about Apple being a consumer product line – but I can’t say that I agree. Apple has a HUGE education division and works closely with districts to insure things are running smoothly.

      Thanks again for your comment!

  • Gary Hewgley

    “The SMART Board by itself is actually quite dumb.” makes me really wonder. You say this and then you say that the Apple TV needs a computer or ipad – but it is smart. I’m sorry but I just don’t get it. The Smart Board is dumb because it needs a computer, but the Apple TV is not dumb because it needs a computer (either a tablet, phone, or computer). Huh…?

    I agree with the others who say that this is a very rough comparison of technology and it is not a very valid comparison. I also noticed that you said you could leave out the projector, if you have one, for the Apple TV, but did not mention this for the Smart Board. Why? I have Apple, Windows, and Android tech – they are all wonderful and have their uses. You left out the price for cables for the Apple TV (doesn’t it need an HDMI cable or some VGA cables to run from the device to the projector?). You can use cheaper Logitech speakers for the Apple TV, but you must buy a more expensive USB sound system for the Smart Board? Huh? I use Logitech speakers with my computer/Smart Board. What about a screen or TV for the Apple TV? Doesn’t it really need one of those? White walls are okay, but I don’t know of anyone who would say they are better than screens. What about software cost? Smart Notebook comes free with the Board – apps for the ipad are mostly not free (for the good ones anyway). But who is kidding who – neither setup is really cheap. Networks can be a real big issue for Apple TV’s in school – a big problem. The Smart Board hooks up through a USB cable. What about security? It’s easy to walk out with an Apple TV without anyone noticing you have it. Kinda hard to walk out with a Smart Board in your bag (or a student’s bag). What about using bluetooth keyboards/mice/tablets with the Smart Board? Possibilities there (as well as with a computer and Apple TV)!

    Don’t get me wrong, I have an Apple TV and think it is wonderful and very useful. I just don’t have to tear-down something else to enjoy it. Each system has costs and benefits/drawbacks and a combo Apple TV/Smart Board device would be a dream. Maybe something that is modular perhaps…? However you can use Splashtop to run your computer/Smart Board from your ipad (and I do love the ipad).

    I think that a class/school should be looking at what they want to do first. They may be able to just use the Apple TV if it is mostly for presentations/movies/sharing from an ipad/computer. I also believe that schools just buy the Smart Board way too quickly – when it’s not actually needed, wanted, or used. However, they both have their pluses and minuses. I just think you turned everything from a Smart Board into lemons and glorified/forgot to mention parts for the Apple TV. Seriously, this sounds like an Apple sales pitch.

    • http://instructionaltechtalk.com/ Jeff Herb

      Thank you for your comment! I really appreciate various perspectives on this topic.

      So, here is what I was getting at with this post:

      “The SMART Board is actually quite dumb” refers to the fact that as a SMART Board itself, it can do nothing. The Apple TV by itself (assuming an internet connection) can connect to Netflix, Hulu Plus, Flickr, iCloud, rent films, documentaries, to name a few. This is all without any additional device.

      You can’t ignore the money. You’re right that neither setup is cheap – but if that is the case than getting an iPad out of one of the options and still being able to perform VERY similar functions outranks the alternative in my opinion. Yes, I did miss the VGA cable/HDMI for the Apple TV side – call it $10 on Monoprice.com (VGA cables for SMART Board are more expensive since there are a couple of them and they have to be long enough to reach up to the projector and then from the control to the computer).

      The typical sound system install for a SMART Board is the USB install. Is this a must? Certainly not – but it seems like it is an extremely common add-on as I have yet to be in a building that has SMART Boards and see anything but the USB side speakers installed.

      Ultimately, for years we seem to have been stuck on SMART Boards. Don’t get me wrong – they are an awesome technology! One of the main reasons for this article was to show that alternatives exist that can save you money and leave you with technology that can be applied to many other classroom activities. If the SMART Board is still the option that works for you the best, then definitely get the SMART Board. You’re absolutely right that we need to think about what we need to accomplish before we jump into a technology solution.

      Thanks again for your comment! I really appreciate hearing opposing viewpoints – helps us all grow.

      • http://twitter.com/techinmusiced Techinmusiced

        The phrase “quite dumb” evokes a empathetic response, as we tend to humanize technology. A better statement would have been “any interactive white board is simply a large mouse.” In fact, on many systems, SMART Boards actually show up as a mouse.

        The point Jeff is making is that the SMART Board is simply a peripheral, versus an iPad which in and of itself is a computer. A SMART Board requires a computer (unless you are using it to simply act as a screen for a projector–in which case it is a tremendous waste of money), whereas an iPad can still be used by itself, without an Apple TV/Projector.

  • DChristianson

    We’ve been experimenting with putting Apple TV in some of our classrooms, especially as so many of our students already have iPads and more are coming. There have been some glitches along the way, but compared to other screen sharing devices, it has worked MUCH more consistently. And, you’re right – the price is low, upgrading is easy, and it can work with equipment you already have.

    • http://instructionaltechtalk.com/ Jeff Herb

      Thanks for your comment, @DChristianson. We definitely saw the same thing – several software based screen sharing solutions that worked much less consistently than the Apple TV. Bumps along the way, but once ironed out it seems to be pretty reliable.

      Thanks again! Please feel free to share how the process progresses.

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  • http://twitter.com/techinmusiced Techinmusiced

    I wanted to add some thoughts that were not mentioned in the article. The iPad to Apple TV, or iPad to Reflector or AirServer method solves one huge issue: you don’t need to turn your back to your class to interact with the device.

    This can be tremendously important for classroom management.

    And you can project more than one iPad at a time with Reflector or AirServer, whereas a SMART Board is limited to one user (with one touch-capacity), or at best, two users (with one-touch capacity) [Some newer SMART Boards split in half to allow two students at the board at one time). So many programs are interactive and multi-touch that you lose that functionality with a single-touch device.

    This doesn’t mean the iPad is perfect…you need to have a robust network with N speed (so many schools still have G or below), and for some reason AirPlay projects in 4:3, even if you have a 16:9 projector. Ironically, use AirPlay for a Movie (iTunes or Netflix), and the stream will automatically go 16:9. Use AirPlay for everything else, and you are stuck at 4:3…even when using Reflector or AirServer and not an Apple TV.

    One final caveat with Apple TV…it shows the latest of Apple’s movies every time you boot up, so you can have a distraction in your room every time those movies appear. “Can we watch THAT today?” “Oh…that actress is HOT.” And so on.

    I wouldn’t put an IWB in a classroom today unless the teacher demanded it and promised to use it interactively. Otherwise, I’d be handing out projectors, Apple TVs, and iPads, and using the money saved to upgrade our wireless network capacity, which benefits ALL users of mobile devices, regardless of platform.

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