Tuesday, March 8, 2011

2Screens-Peace and Harmony in the Universe Restored!

One of the most infuriating aspects of using an iPad in the classroom has been it's resolute refusal to mirror out to a projector anything other than Keynote. I bought the Apple VGA connector a while back and use it a lot as it saves waiting several minutes (or more depending on the room I am in) for the school computers to log me in and get up and running. Two minutes might not seem a long time but we have short (50 min) sessions and getting kids settled is best done at the start of a lesson. iPad allows me to get straight in and show any slides etc. Lately, the network has been painfully slow and by the time the dreaded Internet Explorer has spluttered into life, most of us have given up. Shame iPad can't mirror out what Safari is showing.

Today I was running a session on Web 2.0 for ICT subject leaders at our local CLC
and then going on to talk about and let loose a range of iOS devices, pity I couldn't use my iPad for the quick (honest) presentation and then use it to show Google Docs (was looking at how to do APP in the classroom using a Google Form-will post later on this) but of course, iPad can't mirror out anything other than video and Safari.

Well, to cut a long story short, I did a bit of research and found an app called 2screens. It allows you to mirror not only presentations (which it imports as a sort of PDF rather than a proper Keynote or PowerPoint, so no animations or the like) but it also has a built-in browser that will mirrror out to a projector, brilliant! It also has an annotation tool built in and it links to Dropbox so you can import files straight into 2screens (it stores your presentations etc locally in the app, even if they've come from Dropbox), just what I was looking for.

To be honest, it was £2.99 so I wasn't expecting much but wow! Used it today and I was really impressed. OK, you don't get animations or transitions in your slides (probably not a bad thing really, come on, be honest) but it allows you to quickly swap between presentation and web using a tab metaphor and is really slick. Below are some screen shots I took as was using it:

Here is the first slide of my presentation

Now I switch to the web

Finally, I'm using the built in browser to edit a Google Doc

The moral here is this, people will bemoan the fact that iPad lacks certain hardware (SD card slot, USB, camera's, a 51/2 inch floppy drive and a parallel port so you connect up your daisy wheel printer) or that the software is gimped so you cant do stuff but hear this. Most folk don't want to mirror out Safari to a projector, cutting that function drops the price, if you want to do it, pay £2.99 and add the function. It's not about specs, speed, widgets or the like, the Motorola Xoom may have every port know to mankind, be fully customizable, have widgets and more cameras than the M4 (for non UK viewers, thats a motorway in the UK infamous for the number of speed cameras along its length) but if Android cannot deliver price (which it currently can't (Hint-lose the ports, say a few pounds, drop the price), usability (still not convinced its as good as iOS but limited experience) or apps, then it wont topple the iPad as the number one tablet. Same reasoning goes for Win 7/Win8/Win phone 7 tablets and Web OS tablets.

Anyway, I am very happy and peace and harmony are restored once more!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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