Teachers who stayed in one room for most of the day, and thus usually connected to the one Miracast device, had a wonderful experience and provided very positive feedback.
However, problems soon surfaced in an environment with:
- large numbers of wireless enabled devices (in the one-to-one classes).
- teachers moving from room to room for various periods.
- the necessity to connect to a number of different Miracast devices daily.
The problems were intermittent, but followed common themes.
- Some Miracast devices were occasionally not visible in the list of devices available for connection.
- When visible, some would not connect on the first few attempts, or could not be connected to without restarting the Miracast device or the Surface tablet.
- Teachers would be randomly disconnected on occasion, sometimes part way through a lesson.
- Audio would occasionally lag.
Miracast is an amazing technology. It is an open standard from the Wi-Fi Alliance, so it is not restricted to a particular brand of computer or tablet. Unlike some other solutions, it does more than just stream apps or browsers. When combined with a light, compact, powerful device like a Surface Pro 3 it is awesome. Add pen-based technology, such as OneNote and the results can be particularly empowering. The combination feels as if it were built specifically for the classroom.
A teacher can walk around a room while writing on a white board (a virtual whiteboard on his/her tablet), flip to a video, swap to a presentation, draw diagrams or write with a stylus, with everything projected onto a screen. Students with Windows or Android devices can also connect, which creates even more flexibility and opportunity for collaboration in the classroom.
However, the promise is almost a reality. Hopefully the next generation of MiraCast devices, or a new firmware update, will solve the problems that arise in a wireless dense, diverse, mobile environment.
Then, finally, teachers will have total flexibility in a classroom.
Peter West is Director of eLearning at Saint Stephen’s College in Australia. He has over 15 years’ experience leading K12 schools in technology enhanced education, particularly blended learning using online learning environments. He can be contacted at email@example.com or at http://www.blended-thinking.com.