tech in jewish education: apple tv

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  • August 7, 2011

In my role as direc­tor of con­gre­ga­tional learn­ing at Temple Isaiah, I’ve been work­ing on ways to effec­tively use tech­nol­ogy to improve the learn­ing expe­ri­ence in the reli­gious school class­room. This post is the first in a series on ideas to make it hap­pen.

What is it?

AppletvhandApple TV is a box you con­nect (via HDMI) to a tv or pro­jec­tor, and you log it onto your wire­less net­work. Once it’s con­nected, the Apple TV can play YouTube and Vimeo videos and stream Netflix con­tent. Even bet­ter: Using a tech­nol­ogy called AirPlay, it can play music, videos, and photo slideshows from any com­puter (Mac or PC, as long as it has iTunes installed) or any iOS Device (iPad, iTouch, iPhone) on the same net­work. Also, cer­tain iOS apps take advan­tage of the same tech­nol­ogy to have video from the device (like a news video from the CNN app, or a radio seg­ment from the NPR app) dis­play via the Apple TV up on the attached projector/television.

[In fall, it will get even bet­ter. When Apple releases the next gen­er­a­tion of iOS, newer iPads (and maybe newer iPhones) will be able to use the Apple TV for wire­less screen mir­ror­ing. So a user could browse to a web­site on her iPad and then tap a sin­gle icon to make what she sees on her screen appear on the projector/television. And all the while, she can walk around the room unteth­ered by AV cables.]

How can I use it in the class­room?

• For a unit on Israel, the teacher uses the AppleTV (con­nected to a pro­jec­tor) to show his class a music video from a mizrachi band to intro­duce a les­son on eth­nic diver­sity within Israel.

• A Hebrew teacher uses the AppleTV to show a slideshow of “pho­tos” which are actu­ally just slides from PowerPoint saved as JPG files and saved to an online account. The slides are like giant flash­cards that the teacher can flip through quickly. (And by using the AppleTV, the teacher does­n’t have to schlep a lap­top and be stuck con­trol­ling it from the front of the room.)

• A teacher can use Netflix to show a clip from a TV episode or movie, or (if they don’t have Netflix) “rent” the movie from the iTunes store, or down­load the clip onto a com­puter (which just has to be on the net­work, not nec­es­sar­ily attached to the pro­jec­tor or even in the room) so that it can be streamed to the AppleTV.

And in the fall…

• A teacher can load up any con­tent (a web­page, a video, a Hebrew flash­cards app, an audio track) on their iPad (or iPhone 5? Please, Steve?) and instantly project that con­tent up on the screen from any­where in the class­room.

Of course, if stu­dents have access to iOS devices (like, say, a school set of iPads or iTouches), then the pos­si­bil­i­ties expand even fur­ther…

How much is this going to cost me?

Apple TV costs $99, plus the cost of an HDMI cable if you don’t have one handy. Of course, to do it for that cheap, you already need a decent WiFi net­work cov­er­ing the rooms where you want to use it, a pro­jec­tor or TV (which has to be a new-ish model, since old tube sets don’t do HDMI), and (at the very least) a com­puter with iTunes installed (for stream­ing video, audio, pho­tos). Of course, once you start adding the cost of devices (an iPad?), a Netflix mem­ber­ship ($8/month), and any­thing else… this can get expen­sive. So an Apple TV is prob­a­bly best used in a set­ting where some basic tech infra­struc­ture already exists. Also: No Android devices need apply. (But seri­ously… You did­n’t buy that HTC Hotflash think­ing that it would pro­vide seam­less, sim­ple, and ele­gant inter­con­nec­tiv­ity, did you?)]