Monday, March 14, 2016

Perhaps wireless display devices are not great for classrooms

Over the years we've tried out a number of wireless display devices, including Apple TV, Chromecast, and various other proprietary or standards-based dongles and software. I've recently started to think, though, that these are not a good idea.

Of course I'm open to being convinced otherwise.

The main reason I'm thinking they're not a good idea is that there are better (and more "real-world" ways to get student content up on the big screen in a classroom. The obvious one is that students can share content with their teacher, whose computer is connected to the big screen, via the usual ways that they share things with their teacher, such as Google Drive, Classroom, Office 365, email, or social media. In my experience this is also how things work in environments outside of education.

Another issue with some of these devices, particularly Chromecast, is the lack of controls or restrictions on who can connect to it. Apple has introduced passcodes, onscreen codes, passwords, and device verification, but many other vendors have not. This means that anyone on the same network as your device can display content on that device. While this is a great opportunity for digital citizenship education, it does occasionally cause issues.

As well, this process isn't always "simple, solid, and enjoyable" (the phrase that James Aitchison is fond of using). While our wireless, network, and Internet access are great, it's not going to be as good as a physical connection to the display.

So I recommend leaving the teacher machine connected to the classroom display, and have students share any content they would like displayed.

That's my current option, feel free to push back in the comments or on social media.