I Have an iPad AND an Apple TV… Now What???

More and more teachers have an iPad, and I’d say 99% of them would LOVE to be able to engage students by showing what is on their iPad screen to their class via the classroom projector. There are a few other ways to do this (direct with a VGA Connector, AirServer or Reflector), but the most convenient and reliable (albeit expensive) way is to incorporate an Apple TV into your classroom technology toolkit.

You might think that once you get your Apple TV up and running (described below), that you need to ‘connect’ your iPad to the Apple TV in some way – Bluetooth, an additional app, something – but that is not the case.

Here’s the deal… The iPad and the Apple TV do not communicate with Bluetooth for mirroring – there is WAY too much data going back and forth for that. Nor does it require the installation of any other apps on the iPad or Apple TV. It’s all built in! These devices communicate with each other through the wireless network. These are consumer devices, and work seamlessly on a home wireless network. At school however, things may be different…

PLEASE NOTE that in MANY school networks this screen sharing (and wireless printing) will simply not work unless your school or district has a Bonjour Gateway configured for the network. This is no trivial task – it’s not simply a ‘switch’ that someone can flip. Proceed cautiously  if you are in this situation with the knowledge that it may not work, ever, without the support of your district/school IT folks.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that there is no additional software needed to get the iPads and Apple TV to ‘talk’ to each other and to do the screen mirroring from the iPad, once they are connected to the network. It’s all built in, but it’s not instantly apparent as to how to start sharing or mirroring your iPad screen to the Apple TV & projector.

This YouTube video (from itseconomics) does a pretty good job of showing what you need to do. I’ll make some annotations below with the time code to point out other things to know.

  • 0:00-1:05 – Connection: You need to connect your projector to the Apple TV.
    • If your projector is new enough, you may be able to connect it directly with an HDMI cable.
    • If your projector is older, you’ll need a HDMI to VGA Adapter.
    • If you have your computer AND the Apple TV connected to your projector with separate cables, you’ll need to use the projector remote to select the source. Look for an ‘Input’, ‘Source’ or ‘Source Select’ button and click it until you see HDMI as an option. When you see the Apple TV screen, then you are on the right one.
    • You’ll need to switch between this input and VGA (probably) to get back to your computer screen.
  • 1:05-2:05 – Connect to Network
    • In order to work without the Bonjour Gateway, your iPad and Apple TV must be on the same wireless network.
    • If the Bonjour Gateway is set up, you should try to connect your Apple TV with an Ethernet cable. This will eliminate the need to configure the wireless and will improve the streaming performance and response time to your actions on the iPad.
  • 2:05-2:27 – Settings/AirPlay
    • Follow his steps and double check this to ensure that AirPlay is set to On.
    • He’s showing an older version of the Apple TV, so you’ll have a few more options here…
      • You may want to turn the ‘Onscreen Code’ which will require people attempting to connect to your Apple TV to have a 4-digit code to connect. The code is displayed on the screen so that only people in the room can connect to it.
      • If the onscreen code is not enough and you find that other teachers or students are connecting to your Apple TV, you can set a password to connect.
      • This article explains these settings in more detail.
  • 2:27-4:07 – Setup or start AirPlay Mirroring
    • Double-tapping the home button works (2:34) , but you can also use the 5-finger vertical swipe gesture (swipe up the screen) to bring up the multitasking bar, if you have multitasking gestures turned on.
    • At 2:42, he shows you the AirPlay icon. Look for this icon in other apps to send the audio or video to your Apple TV!

He didn’t cover how to end AirPlay Mirroring. You basically do what you did to start mirroring to end it. Bring up the multitasking bar, swipe from left to right, and tap the AirPlay icon. Select ‘iPad’ to end screen mirroring.

I hope this helps some of you out there. I tried to explain it as simply as I could, but in a school setting this is not as simple of a solution as it seems. Leave your comments below if you have any questions or if I’ve left anything out!

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