Megan McBain is a fourth grade teacher at Charles R. Bugg Magnet Elementary in Wake County, North Carolina. Her classroom is 1:1 with student iPads. She has a laptop, a projector and an interactive whiteboard.
Technology changes fast. While this is generally good for society, it poses challenges to budget-conscious school districts. Costly education technology tools often become obsolete every few years. Megan and the Wake County Public School System experienced this firsthand.
“Our interactive whiteboards are no longer supported now that they’re five or six years old,” Megan said. “We were looking at the Sharp 70-inch flat panel HDTVs as replacements, but those cost $2,815 per classroom when you include brackets, installation and the warranty.”
Bugg Magnet Elementary needed a cost-effective EdTech solution that would utilize the district’s growing number of student mobile devices and serve as an interactive whiteboard alternative during the district’s long transition to Sharp HDTVs.
Megan attended the NCTIES Conference in March 2016 and discovered a $15 screen-mirroring software for her computer called Reflector. It allowed Megan and her students to wirelessly display classroom iPads onto her computer screen. Megan’s computer was connected to the classroom projector so the whole class could see what was happening on the mirrored iPads.
“Reflector was the solution to many things,” Megan said. “It changes the way we teach. It allows teachers to be interactive and keeps kids engaged. There are other screen-sharing options out there, but Reflector is compatible with so many mobile devices – iOS, Android, Chromebook - that it was the best fit.”
When other teachers at Bugg Magnet Elementary began using Reflector, the Wake County Public School System purchased a site license to bring the software to all 172 of its schools.
“Reflector changes the way we teach. It allows teachers to be interactive and keeps kids engaged.”
Wake County Public Schools purchased 22,000 licenses of Reflector for $80,000. By comparison, 22,000 units of the $2,815 Sharp 70-inch flat panel HDTVs would have cost more than $60 million, excluding any education pricing discounts that may have been offered.
Reflector also eliminated the need for Bugg Magnet Elementary to purchase Apple TVs for each classroom. Megan has wirelessly connected 11 student iPads to her computer’s Reflector software at one time. This is an increase of 1,000% compared to standard screen-sharing alternatives such as Apple TV or Chromecast, which only allow one connected device at a time.
“We only have two Apple TVs for our school that we can check out of the media center,” Megan said. “One has never been opened. I don’t think some of our teachers even know we have them.”