Splashing the iPad Across the Big Screen
One of the great weaknesses of even second generation iPads in the classroom is the continued lack of support for Flash media and the limitations placed on what you can display with a large-screen monitor or projector. Splashtop Whiteboard app puts an end to these shortcomings by doing tag team class-work between an iPad and a host computer.
Based on Splashtop’s Remote Desktop technology, the Whiteboard app sends its screen info to a host computer wirelessly, which can then be displayed with a projector or a large-screen classroom monitor. The way it works is a little complex, but it’s something that tech savvy teachers can download and set up in about 15 minutes.
Start by getting and installing the free Splashtop’s Streamer app on the host computer. There are versions for recent releases for PCs and Macs, but not for Linux computers. Next, get the Whiteboard app from the iTunes and install it. At $10 it’s a bargain, and the software works with the iPad and iPad 2. Its password protected.
The potentially confusing part is that the host computer has two IP addresses, which are displayed when the application is started. When everything is installed and online, the Whiteboard app shows the available computers to connect with. Click on the host and as soon as the link is made, a screen appears that shows several specialized multi-finger gestures that are available for things like scrolling through the host computer or clicking on an item.
Once both programs are running and connected, the two computers work in concert, with the iPad acting like a wireless remote control tablet for the host computer. The PC provides the background, video and online lessons, while the iPad adds annotations, scribbling math equations and even the highlighting of text.
The Whiteboard app works in horizontal or vertical modes and there’s a screen resolution mismatch. This means that only about two-thirds of the iPad’s screen will be usable with a 1,024 by 768 projector. It’s not all bad because it provides room at the bottom of the iPad’s screen for the icon that starts the annotation mode as well as a special on-screen keyboard.
The hardware and software work well together, although there’s a slight delay between actions on the iPad and when it shows up on the screen, such as moving your finger on the iPad’s screen. The host computer’s mouse and keyboard work fine, so it can end up being a juggling act working with two computers.
Whiteboard provides a great set of writing and annotation tools that includes the ability to choose color, line width, type text onscreen and create geometric shapes. My favorites are the undo, redo and the eraser, which can make working with sentences or math problems a breeze.
For teachers interested in starting a lesson from scratch, Whiteboard can put up a plain white background as well as a ruled sheet or graph paper. At any time, you can snap a screenshot of what’s on the screen or wipe the whole screen clean and start a new lesson, but you can’t save a video of the session.
Despite the ability of the iPad app to show hints of what to do in Whiteboard, getting it all to work is a little awkward at first. I worked with YouTube videos, presentations and a graphing calculator, marking up and highlighting items of interest, but to make it work seamlessly, it takes some thought before-hand and practice.
A big bonus is that because Splashtop Whiteboard is built around a PC or Mac, it will play Flash video and interactive content without a problem, something that the iPad can only dream about. Because the iPad can only run a program at a time, none of the other iPad apps are available for use
At a time when it’s hard to get funding to get a single computer for each classroom in many schools, using Splashtop requires two computers: a host PC or Mac and an iPad. Still, it transforms an iPad from a plaything into a teaching tool for next to nothing.
+ Turns iPad into classroom interactive tool
+ All software
+ Excellent markup tools
+ PC and Macs
- Requires iPad and host computer
- No Linux software