The iPad “Visual Back Channel”

The “Visual Back Channel” and the iPad. Scenario – The class arrive after a flipped session. They open their iPads and add their diagrams to the iPad visual channel with a simple swipe and a tap. On the teacher’s large LCD screen, the images effortlessly begin to emerge, the collective flipped thoughts and creative ideas of the flipped classroom. The class are utterly focused on the images as they begin to appear and the discussion naturally begins.

Ok! So My lessons are never quite that slick. With Apple TV we’ve re-imagined classrooms with simple to use lounge technology. There was incredible excitement surrounding this “self configuring” technology enabling teacher and student iPads to mirror wirelessly. This was shortly followed by the Reflector and Airserver, software versions, that cost a lot less and are much easier to manage in small school contexts; Although less easy to manage in a large school scenarios. Its now a standard expectation to present wirelessly with our iPads in the classroom. However, as we all know things can be flakey and “drop-outs” do occur.  Re-connecting can mysteriously not happen. This usually happens in the most crucial time, in the important lessons! We “open up the floor” and ask the class to present. Sometimes it’s a quick connection, sometimes it’s an agonising wait, spoiling the flow of the lesson.

These days, I always have my hard wired VGA and HDMI adapters with me, especially when in other schools and on alien network terrain. I’ve had some truly cringeworthy moments over the years! So what is all this leading to…. Well, I have been experimenting with and blogging about an app by Boinx called Party Snapper. It is a very simple tool that enables a party host to broadcast photo’s at the party on the TV. Party goers use the same free app to find a host and share their pictures. The host iPad is connected via HDMI or Airplay. It streams the images, automatically copies them and to labelled album in the Photos app.

I appreciate this partying doesn’t sound very educational!  However, imagine an art class where the students are either drawing on paper and then snapping the developing ideas, or screen grabbing the iPad art work. This is then seamlessly shared to an automatically evolving, rolling wall of images. A visual back channel for the lesson. As well as a live visual back channel, Boinx PartySnapper also creates a copy to the camera roll of the all images/photos/screen grabs! It actually creates an album in your Photos app with all the evidence neatly filed. So re- capping

  • There is no time lag or disruption waiting to connect
  • It copies all the images – evidence to your teacher iPad
  • It creates a visual back channel for lesson.
  • These can photos screen shots of work in progress, visual or written

The free version allows only 10 images and there’s a 7 day pass or a lifetime purchase. I tried and bought the lifetime option it was a no-brainer. This tool is cool!

About Digital Roadtrip

Apple ADE 2007 and Apple Trainer/Mentor

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