For those who haven’t used the original version, Reflector 2 allows you to mirror whatever is on your phone or tablet directly to your computer screen. Additionally, multiple devices can be displayed at the same time.
Depending on your needs, you can then project from your computer onto the wall, record a device, or use it as one of those fancy computer lab monitors that controls all the screens in the room, only for mobile devices (and at a fraction of the price).
Today I’m happy to say that the fine folks at AirSquirrels have made some outstanding upgrades to the original Reflector app, not the least of which includes the ability to screencast directly from your iOS or Android device.
I can’t overemphasize how important this is. In many ways, this single app can help level the playing field, especially in BYOD schools.
Reflector 2 is available for both Mac & PCs and has a lot of great new features:
Reflector 2 gives great new control over the devices being used.
As you can see below, you can control the connected devices from the Menu Bar.
Taking a close look at the menu, we have a number of choices in controlling the devices:
The blue eye indicates whether you want a devise to be visible or hidden. Click on the eye to toggle the matching device on or off:
The green icon that looks like two phones layered on top of each other indicates which device you want to highlight. This will make the chosen device full-screen and other devices will be shown as much smaller.
The device with the drop-down arrow will let you choose the “skin” – you can decide if you want the device to show up as a black or white iPhone, etc. (Note that my Android is a Nexus 7 tablet, not one of the current choices, so I used a Galaxy tablet skin instead).
Finally, the eject button lets you kick people off of the screen. Vital for some of your pranksters.
This one is big – I once did a session teaching how to use the original Reflector and all the teachers in the room jumped on, stealing my screen, playing around with it. If you can’t control teachers, imagine what would happen if you let a bunch of kids jump on your network. I’m sure some of you have already experienced this, and you have my sympathy.
When you open up the preferences panel under “connection” you will see some very useful options:
You can choose to have no security, a password, or an onscreen code.
- No security: Anybody can connect
- Password: People using Reflector 2 have to be given a password
- Onscreen Code: When trying to connect, a code will come up onscreen for users to enter
This functionality allows you to choose what happens when people try to connect their devices.
- Connect and Show Device: Brings the device up on your screen immediately
- Connect and Hide Device: Allows connection, but doesn’t show it until you choose
- Prompt to Approve: Requires you to allow the device to connect.
With all the buzz around flipped classrooms, everybody’s looking for ways to record their devices. While there are a lot of individual whiteboard type apps that let you do this on your device, Reflector 2 lets you record ANYTHING from your device, including the need to jump between different apps, etc. Of course you can record audio as well.
For years people have been looking for ways to record from their Androids. While there have been some clunky workarounds in the past, Reflector 2 makes it easy for the average user to implement. Now you have the choice to make a quick screencast from your Android, iPhone or iPad and quickly upload it to YouTube or the video service site of your choice.
Reflector Director allows you to control devices much in the way listed above, but from an iPad or iPhone.
This would be useful for teachers who want to float around the classroom and use Reflector without carrying around the laptop or running back to the desktop every time you want to make a change to what’s being displayed.
The Great Leveler
It’s cool and progressive for teachers to say “it’s not about the device, it’s about what the students make.”
While I agree with the sentiment, I’ve always felt that that the reality is that it IS about the device. Specifically, the Apple device.
Like it or not, Apple has had a strong foothold in education, and all things are NOT created equal in the world of BYOD. The ability to be collaborative pretty much meant you had to be on an Apple device, or for the creative teachers, to spend a lot of time figuring out workarounds for students with Android devices.
With Reflector 2, AirSquirrels have leveled the playing field. Teachers can jump back and forth between different students with different kinds of devices, displaying and sharing with ease.
I’m glad there’s finally a good solution to a problem which – if we’re being honest – shouldn’t have existed for this long. I hope you play around with Reflector 2 and see how you can both empower your students and how you can use it for to screencast from your own device.