Apple TV has been around for a while now, but it is not as famous as the devices and machines that the company have become famous for. In many ways, its use in the domestic household is limited to a few really neat tricks. But, when you get this device into a classroom, I would argue that it is a game-changer.
With Apple TV you don’t need to stand at the front of the room. You can move, you can sit with your students, you or your students can teach the lesson form anywhere in the room. By standing at the front of the room we often act as a barrier to our students seeing what we want them to see – our personality (good or bad) can hide the more significant message that we are aiming to deliver. You can also divert attention away from the board at the front by sitting with your students – keep them guessing and keep them focused by moving their attention away from where they would normally expect it to be, whilst still being able to deliver the content you want them to see at a moment’s notice.
Once you’re sitting or standing with your students, you get a pretty immediate picture of what it’s like to be them. You will see what they see. Sometimes this is quite alarming and disappointing. That resource you thought looked great, is barely visible to the kids at the back of the room, or the quality of image that you chose simply doesn’t cut it. If we want our students to engage with our teaching, we need to show them that we care about what is put in front of them. Similarly, you will have a clearer sense of the variety of resources you put in front of them. Standing at the front delivering learning day in day out, you can forget how repetitive you can become in your methods. You will soon get a clearer sense of what works and what doesn’t by sitting with your students.
Even if you only have 1 iPad in the classroom, you have the option of going round to any student and taking a photo or video o f their work and pushing that up to the board for all to see. This sort of immediate feedback is difficult to replicate in any other way and the ease with which Apple TV produces this effect is impressive. It has been difficult for student work to generate and indeed be the focus of a lesson until we have already seen it, marked it and photocopied it for the rest of the group. Now, it can become the lesson simply because you’ve seen good learning happening in the moment.
Coming hand in hand with instant feedback is the fact that you will be able to generate discussion with individuals and the whole class about the work that they are doing. Just as the ‘flipped classroom’ model allows less time to be spent on going over the mundane or repetitive aspects of learning and allowing instead for the focus to be ‘deeper learning’, Apple TV allows you to concentrate on soft skills such as collaboration and discussion whilst still being focused on specific learning tasks.
At any moment you could ask a student to beam his screen to the front of the room, or take a snapshot of what a group has been doing. Knowing this has a real impact on motivation within a group. Some will be excited about this prospect – having an outlet for their work being publicly acknowledged is a thrill and a just reward for those that work hard and need their confidence boosted; students want to be praised and dislike being embarrassed, indeed this is true of most people. So, the flipside of this point is that those who don’t readily work hard, have a reason to.
Apple TV is one of 3 reasons that set the iPad in the classroom apart from the competition. It really does allow for change that improves the learning of our students and if you get a chance, you should try it. As with all of the best things that Apple has invented, it is simple and it works. (In case you’re wondering, the other two reasons for using an iPad over a different device are iTunesU and iBooks Author.)