iPads in the Classroom: Sharing one iPad in the classroom

Most of us do not have the luxury of accessing a classroom set of iPads.  Instead, many classrooms that have access to this technology may only have one or two iPads to share within a classroom. In the single iPad classroom, how can we best utilize the iPad in a way that it continues to support student learning across an entire classroom? How can we provide opportunities for students to interact with the iPad and access the applications that it can provide?  If an entire class is to simultaneously view the activity on a single iPad, we need to make the screen visible to the class by broadcasting it to a data projector or large display.  Fortunately, there are a few options to consider…

The Apple TV
The Apple TV offers a way to wirelessly “mirror” your iPad to another display. An ideal set up that allows you to easily pass an iPad around the room.

Apple TV

The Apple TV provides a way to wirelessly transmit or “mirror” an iPad screen to a display panel or data projector.  This wireless connectivity allows the iPad to be moved about the classroom where students are now able to view the work being done on the single tablet device.


  • wireless mirroring to a data projector, large monitor or television
  • provides a quick and easy way for several iOS to take turns mirroring to a larger screen


  • Apple TV only exports out via HDMI (there are 3rd party adapters are available to convert HDMI to VGA)
  • price of an Apple TV will set you back $100 US ($110 CDN)
  • classroom access to a WiFi network is required in order to connect the iPad with the Apple TV


AirServer or Reflector software


AirServer iPad in the Classroom
Similar concept as the Apple TV, but for those who already have a PC connected to a data projector, AirServer or Reflector may be worth a closer look.

AirServer ($14.99) or Reflector (starting at $12.99) offer software alternatives to the Apple TV by providing wireless mirroring for classrooms that already have a teacher or classroom PC connected to a data projector.  Essentially AirServer and Reflector allow for the wireless streaming of an iPad screen to a computer desktop.  This particular arrangement offers the ability for an iPad and PC to share a common classroom data projector or display.


  • similar to the Apple TV, these pieces of software allow for the wireless mirroring of an iPad to a larger display
  • makes use of existing computer hardware (computer already attached to data projector or large display)
  • software can be used as a way to do screen captures of your iPad or even show multiple iPad screens at once
  • a potentially cheaper alternative to the Apple TV


  • classroom access to a WiFi network is required in order to connect the iPad with the Apple TV


Lightning to HDMI Adapter
For classrooms without WiFi networks, it is still possible to connect an iPad to a display or data projector through an adapter.

Lightning to HDMI Adapter

The use of a Lightning (or 30 pin) to HDMI adapter provides the ability to connect your iPad to a larger display through a wired connection.  This adapter provides a more straightforward set up as it does not require a WiFi network for connectivity.  However, the wired connection between iPad and display limits the ability for the iPad to be passed easily around the classroom.  In many cases, the iPad remains in a fixed location where students now have to come up to the iPad instead.


  • straightforward set up
  • does not require a WiFi network for connectivity


  • wired connection limits the mobility of the iPad


Although the Apple TV, AirServer and Reflector offer a wireless solution to mirror an iPad to a larger display, it does require access to a WiFi network.  For classrooms that do not currently have an accessible WiFi network, the use of the Lightning to HDMI adapter provides a simple, straightforward (and somewhat limiting) alternative.  Ultimately, if we want to have our students engaged with a single classroom iPad, it will be important for other students to see what is happening on this shared device.  However, this is simply one way to maximize the use of the singular classroom iPad.  We will continue to explore some of the possibilities of designing tasks that can benefit from one iPad.

– K. Takahashi


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