This page is intended to help school decision-makers decide how best to display the image from mobile devices such as tablets, phones, or laptops onto a TV or projector.
Sharing content with others facilitates activities such as collaboration, providing feedback, presenting information, and demonstrating understanding.
Many teachers will already be familiar with using cables to connect with a data projector or whiteboard but now there are many other options. The proliferation of mobile devices has led to a number of solutions to "play", "throw", "cast" or "mirror" screens. This guide will provide an overview of the common solutions along with some pros and cons of each one for different situations.
Some devices will be able to connect directly to the TV or projector using a cable. They may need an adapter (sometimes called a dongle) to convert from one socket type to another. If there are a variety of devices in the room to be displayed then a variety of cables and adapters might be needed. Wired connections tend to be very reliable until the wires fray and pins become loose. The downsides of a wired connection are that they limit the connectivity to within only a few metres from the screen, and the cables can be annoying and hazardous.
This is not a technically elegant solution but many teachers find it just as effective to put a mobile device under a document camera or visualiser to show what is on the screen. This then projects the mobile device screen onto the big screen. The advantage here is that, as long as the camera is in place and is working, the set up is nice and simple. The document camera can also display things that can't "cast" like a book, picture, or science experiment so it is a useful tool to have.
It is possible to connect a variety of mobile devices to a display via a "master" laptop or desktop computer running specialist software.
For example, if a teacher’s laptop is always connected to the projector or TV, it can run software that the mobile devices connect to and display their screen on the TV or projector. Examples of software for this includes AirServer , Annotate , Mirroring360 , Reflector , X-Mirage and Google Cast for Education . The key advantage of these solutions is that the teacher is always in control of what is being shown on the screen. A downside is that the laptop is "tied up" when a mobile device is being used on the TV or projector. To overcome this, you could provide a computer that is permanently connected to the TV or projector to run this software so that it can display students’ mobile devices.
Other software solutions include:
Each of these has a more comprehensive feature set than only providing screen mirroring.
There are a number of specialist hardware solutions that are used to display a mobile device on a bigger screen. Common examples include the Apple TV, Chromecast, "Miracast" solutions (that support the "Miracast" protocol) such as the Microsoft Display Adapter and an increasing number of devices that support multiple platforms but which require an app to be installed on devices to work.
The mobile devices connect wirelessly to them and are able to "play", "throw", "cast" or "mirror" their screens. Some projectors or TVs may have in-built capability but, unless it uses the Miracast protocol, this can be limited to particular proprietary standards, such as Sony’s or Samsung’s systems that only work between their own brands of TVs and mobile devices.
The key advantage of hardware solutions compared with software solutions is that the hardware is always in place and ready to be used in the classroom. A disadvantage of hardware solutions is that they can be stolen or "go walkabouts".
Other things to think about are listed below:
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