How to use a single iPad to benefit your entire class

Adam Bellow, founder of, was recognized in 2011 as the Outstanding Young Educator of the Year by ISTE. Adam has been sharing his vision for education reform by harnessing the power of technology with thousands of educators from around the country for the past several years. Considered an expert in the area of Web Tools. Adam lives in New York with his wonderful wife and two terrific boys. For more information about Adam please visit


The iPad has been on the scene just a little over two years now, and already it is starting to dominate many classrooms across the country. It is amazing to see such incredible adoption in education – a market that has been notoriously cautious when warming up to brand new technology. While there is no doubt that the iPad is an extraordinary personal learning device, many had doubts on how this tool could be leveraged to be used in the classroom effectively. Like all electronics in the mobile space, the device is key, but even more important is the eco-system of applications that are available for it. And even more important still is the way in which teachers can effectively leverage its abilities for their students to have a valid learning experience.

Apps for education started to trickle in. Slow at first, with the first crop of them focused on simple interactions with content. For example, the app Elements allowed users to spin virtual elements around and read about their properties in depth. It looked slick and was useful as a reference, but didn’t seem to go beyond that. It is when developers started to really think creatively about how the 10 inches of glass could serve as a creation canvas that things started to get interesting.

There is no short supply of apps today that help users create interactive stories, work on math problems with one another in a digitally synchronous environment, and even more amazing are the apps like ShowMe that allow users to create a lesson to teach a concept with the world as well as browse a huge library of these user generated videos to learn from as well.

Many schools are looking to get iPads into the hands of teachers and/or students. There are many that are piloting a small number of the devices and even a handful of schools that are making a 1-1 investment in the devices for their students.

In spite of many schools starting to implement the iPad in the classroom, there are many more that haven’t yet due to funding issues as well as the fact that many schools are still unsure of how to really use these devices in the classroom.

Having a single iPad in the classroom can actually still be a valuable tool for both the instructor and students alike. Mainly because the screen can now be shared with the class so easily.

There are several ways to project an iPad’s screen in the classroom. There is one given – You will need to have a projector. If you have a projector that has HDMI (which many new projectors do indeed have) then you have several options on how to project with your iPad.

You can buy an adaptor from Apple for $30 that allows you to plug in directly from the iPad to the HDMI port of the projector and the screen will be shown on both devices. Apple calls this “mirroring”.

If you purchase an AppleTV ($99) and plug that into the projector (also via HDMI connection) then you can use the iPad to “Mirror” its display through the AppleTV. The catch here is that you will need a reliable WiFi signal in addition to the hardware that both the AppleTV and the iPad can be synced to. This cuts the cord so-to-speak, which is a great step in the right direction. But again, the school’s WiFi should be strong.

To actually mirror the image so that it can be seen though the projector you can follow these steps.

  1. Make sure AppleTV is on and configured on the same WiFi network as the iPad.
  2. Double click the home button on the iPad, which will bring up the system tray. (Icons of the apps that are currently opened and running in the background)
  3. Swipe your finger on the bottom system tray to the right. You will see the options for volume and brightness as well as a display icon. When you press the display icon you can now select the AppleTV choice and within a few seconds the screen will mirror.

Another option, which I happen to really like, is a piece of software that works on any Apple computer. It is called Reflection and it is a $15 app (multiple licenses can be purchased for a reduced rate). Reflection allows you to mirror your iPad screen on your Apple desktop and that can be projected the same way you would project any computer screen.

What I especially like about the Reflection and AppleTV options are the fact that the iPad, even if it is only one of them, can be shared amongst multiple students and the entire class can see the screen at one time. While the same is true for the HDMI dongle version, the fact that the wire must be connected to the device and projector at all times limits mobility.

While having one device shared between many students might not be ideal, this is a good way to expose students to the wonderful world of content available only on the iPad platform as well as offer some interactivity in their learning. Students can easily pass the device around the room and interact with the app (depending on the apps being used).

The whole idea of using technology as part of the classroom is great – but when used appropriately and made accessible to all the students is when we really realize and harness the full potential of what the technology can do for the students.

To learn about some wonderful iOS apps that are out there you have to follow the site IEAR and APPITIC. These are two of the best resources dedicated to reviewing iOS apps out there. If Android apps are more your thing, Richard Byrne runs a blog called which is also quite helpful in locating the apps that are useful in the classroom.


  1. Library Lady
    Posted May 9, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink | Reply

    This sounds promising. I actually downloaded an App called Splashtop to my iPad – 2.99. I then installed the program on my laptop, which I leave plugged into my projector. I only have a laptop, projector, and screen – no SmartBoard. When I activate the App averything I do on the iPad syncs to the laptop, and the students see it on the screen. It’s completely wireless. I am no longer bound to the back of the room where the laptop is set up. Plus I can hand the students the iPad to interact as well. It’s a great assett for special needs classrooms!

  2. Posted July 10, 2012 at 8:42 am | Permalink | Reply

    This is a great read – and lots of good ideas. I have also used Reflection, and find it really useful.

    One of the great uses that I find for one iPad is the chance to let one of the children be the ‘researcher’ for the day – they keep track of what is happening (maybe update a blog) – answer any fact related questions using an app or the internet. They can work with a TA/Group to develop an ‘Explain Everything’ presentation at the end of the day which tells the rest of the class about their work. – This can work really well with the older children.

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