Today is the calm before the storm of the new semester. One of the things we’re excited about is a small pilot project using AppleTV’s AirPlay technology to enable wireless video in a few of our classrooms.
Since AirPlay doesn’t route properly on the campus enterprise network we’ve installed some small wireless routers in selected classrooms (with the guidance and blessing of our network engineers). We turned off the 2.4 Ghz radio, and we’re using a channel that Networking assigned in order to minimize possible interference with the enterprise WAPs in, or adjacent to, the classrooms.
The students are using iPads leased from the Bookstore, and managed by the OIT. We’re pushing out the authentication details for the AirPlay access points via Apple’s Profile Manager, thus avoiding the need to hand out usernames and passwords to students, and also making it difficult for them to share those details with their friends.
The AppleTV devices connect to the “home network” router, and pass HDMI to our Crestron control systems. Faculty merely choose the Auxiliary input on the Crestron control system, mirror their iPad or MacBook Pro to AppleTV, and they are projecting their content without being tethered to the AV system.
Faculty are free to walk around the room, and students can share their content quickly and with minimal interruption to the conversation that’s taking place at the moment. A certain etiquette or protocol is needed for orderly hand-offs, but this is ND, after all, and so hand-offs are second nature to us.
We’re working with faculty to document the learning activities that they use in conjunction with AirPlay. We’ll assemble all of the feedback we receive in an assessment, and by the end of the semester we’ll have a much better idea of the feasibility of making AirPlay a feature in all of our classrooms.