Tom Crilley

Recent Posts

November 4 , 2016

Reflector Student 1.1 for iOS is Now Available

An update to the Reflector Student iOS App is now available in the App Store. Reflector Student is a Reflector 2 companion app that helps students connect to Reflector 2 over restricted school networks. It also shows students the devices that are mirrored to the teacher's computer. No matter where a student is seated in the classroom, they can open Reflector Student on their iOS device to see the other devices that are displayed on the teacher's computer screen.

Reflector Student 1.1 update notes: 

- Improved catch-up performance when a screen stream is behind
- Improved performance when running on 32-bit devices
- Resolved an issue where rebroadcasting would not work properly on iOS 10
- Resolved an issue where some device screens would be shown in the wrong orientation
- Miscellaneous performance and stability improvements

You can grab Reflector Student version 1.1 for free in the App Store.

November 1 , 2016

Why Higher Education Is Investing In Smart Classrooms, and What’s Missing

The college experience is gradually starting to resemble an education utopia for students. Higher education institutions are becoming a place where young adults can grow as individuals while surrounded by on-demand conveniences and like-minded peers. State-of-the-art leisure facilities and smart classrooms filled with collaboration and presentation technology are abundant.

That comes at a price, though. The cost of tuition has been increasing and state funding for higher education institutions has been decreasing ever since the recession. As tuition costs rise, high school students must make tough decisions when deciding which college to attend. This leaves schools looking for ways to add value and differentiate their offering from competitors to appeal to prospective students.

Funding down, tuition up
On average, states are spending 18 percent ($1,598) less per student, and annual published tuition at four-year public colleges has jumped by 33 percent ($2,333) since the 2007-08 school year. So how do schools differentiate themselves and show value in marketing materials for prospective students?

Lavish recreational facilities, apartment-style dorm rooms and pristine landscapes can all add value to a student’s educational experience. This is true of smart classrooms, too. It’s why higher education institutions are devoting more resources to equip learning spaces and offices with technology that facilitates collaboration, presentation and instruction.

According to The Center For Digital Education, higher education institutions will spend $10.8 billion on IT support and services this year. Network upgrades are a top priority on the agenda. Increased connectivity on college campuses can help educators reach students with modern teaching methods such as blended learning, personalized learning and competency-based learning.

The typical list of amenities in “smart classrooms” on college campuses looks like this:

  • MacBook or PC laptop
  • Projector
  • Large wall screen or TV
  • Apple TV/Chromecast
  • Microphone
  • Lighting controls
  • Speakers
  • Document camera
  • HDMI/VGA cables
  • Interactive white board
  • Wireless presentation pointer

What’s missing
While this technology contributes to a smart classroom, it doesn’t create a truly wireless or collaborative environment for students. It doesn’t do for instruction what a rec-center sauna does for the “college experience.”

Wireless content sharing is a common problem for higher education institutions. Imagine if every building on campus – academic buildings, administrative buildings, university libraries, student centers, conference centers and residence halls – had one simple and universal way to wirelessly display computer screens to TVs and digital projectors. Wouldn’t that be....convenient?

The key word there is “simple.” A school’s IT department must operate within a range of technical know-how that varies greatly among staff, students and faculty on campus. What’s common technical knowledge to a computer science professor may be a completely foreign concept to an adjunct journalism professor. This creates a barrier in the adoption of new tech services and solutions.

Collaborating in smart classrooms
The theoretical simple and universal screen-mirroring solution for college campuses mentioned above? Yeah, it exists. Think of it as a facilitator that’s used to display content in meetings, lectures and presentations. It makes HDMI/VGA cables obsolete and allows any student, teacher or faculty member to present from anywhere in a given room.

Content sharing is never going to be viewed as a game changer from a student’s perspective, and it’s just one component of an advanced smart classroom, but it’s an important feature of any room intended to foster collaboration. You can’t have a truly smart, collaborative and connected classroom until every individual in the room has the ability to quickly display his or her screen at a moment’s notice.

What makes your campus stand out?
While per-student funding decreases and tuition costs increase, higher education institutions will continue to look for ways to differentiate from competitors and add value, from campus technology offerings to student lifestyle enhancements.

What are some ways your school has tried to differentiate itself from competing schools? What’s in your school’s smart classroom? What type of technology would you like to see introduced to the classroom, lecture hall or administration offices?

October 31 , 2016

Meet The Fall 2016 Class Of Alpha Squirrel EdTech Experts

Become an Alpha Squirrel at alpha.airsquirrels.com!
The fall 2016 Alpha Squirrels class includes 26 EdTech experts from four countries and 14 states. We’re excited and honored to introduce them as part of the fourth class of Alpha Squirrel EdTech experts.

This group of education thought leaders from the U.S., U.K., Canada and France is made up of teachers, technology integrationists, technology directors, assistant principals and more.

Check out our full list of Alpha Squirrels team members!

These individuals are considered experts and advocates in the global EdTech community. Alpha Squirrels attend and speak at education conferences around the world to share their expertise and introduce fellow educators to the Squirrels suite of classroom technology solutions. You can catch some of them presenting at FETCTCEA and many other edcamps and conferences around the world in 2016 and beyond.

Alpha Squirrels might use or highlight our classroom technology such as ClassHub, Reflector or Ditto during a presentation, but sometimes they aren’t included in the presentations at all. We simply offer Alpha Squirrels the opportunities to be heard and learn. Our goal is to assist them in their professional development journey and provide them with resources to help other educators improve the student learning experience. We value their input and often look to them for ideas and inspiration as we move forward with new initiatives.

In addition to Squirrels-sponsored conference attendance and speaking engagements, Alpha Squirrels receive:

  • First access to unreleased Squirrels products
  • Squirrels welcome package – T-Shirt, coffee mug/tumbler, sticky notes, water bottle, headphones, pens, pencils, etc.
  • Video interview opportunities
  • Free AirParrot 2 and Reflector 2 licenses
  • An Alpha Squirrels member certificate
  • “Alpha Squirrel” signature badges for Twitter, Facebook and email
  • Product training, press kits and talking points
  • A chance to visit Squirrels Headquarters
  • On-demand interaction with Squirrels product designers and managers

Congrats to all of our new Alpha Squirrels! We’re proud to have you represent us in the EdTech community.

Are you a teacher or EdTech professional interested in becoming a certified Alpha Squirrel? Contact Emily Carle Hafer at alpha@airsquirrels.com for information about our next class of Alpha Squirrels.

October 27 , 2016

Alpha Squirrel Guest Post: Using Technology To Improve Math Education In Brazil, Part One

This is the first of a three-part blog series* featuring Alpha Squirrel EdTech Expert Marc Faulder. Marc is an educator and Interactive Technologies Leader at Burton Joyce Primary School in the U.K. He has spent the past two years working with the University of Nottingham in England on a research project about using tablets and math apps to close the math gap for marginalized students. They used math apps from onebillion, a London-based nonprofit, to measure the impact that this intervention has on learning.  

Marc is traveling to Brazil with his team to continue the research project and scope out the possibility of launching the onebillion initiative in Brazil. They’ll also train teachers on the use of technology in the classroom.

The Journey to Brazil
Today I travel to Recife, Brazil, and it feels like the beginning of a great adventure. But whilst I wait for my connecting flight to Sao Paulo from Amsterdam, I look back at the 18 months which led up to this moment.

Unlocking Talent Through Tablet Technology
Unlocking Talent is a research project supported by Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) and the Norwegian Government. Led by the University of Nottingham in England, the project evaluates how onebillion is using innovative math apps to give marginalized children access to this critical math education. The apps allow children to learn at their own pace and in their own language. Beginning in the African country of Malawi, this research found that from six weeks of using the apps, children received the equivalent of 18 months of learning gains in math skills.

As this research continued, the university and onebillion questioned whether or not this way of working could be replicated beyond Malawi. This is where I joined the team. We ran a pilot study across the schools in the federation that I work for. We found similar learning gains here, as well as in other small-scale pilot studies from U.K. schools. In June, we launched the U.K.’s first large-scale evaluation of tablet technology and math attainment.

The apps are used with Early Years children that have been identified as working below age-related expectations. They work on activities set by the teacher in the app for up to 30 minutes a day. The learning is 1:1, personalized and self-paced. These children use this app as well as normal teaching practices and traditional interventions. When combined like this, the learning gains have been huge.

The findings from the initial U.K. pilot studies can be found here.

A Cross-Cultural Study
Today I travel to Brazil with Dr. Nicola Pitchford, an associate professor at the University of Nottingham, and Laura Outhwaite, a Ph.D. student in the School of Psychology at the University of Nottingham. These two have been instrumental in the success of the research in both the U.K. and Malawi. Our initial trip to Brazil is a scoping visit and came about following a visit from researchers from CESAR Recife, an innovation centre that promotes transformation through technology, back in January. Marie Neves and Flavia Nascimento came from Recife to Nottingham to observe best practices in my classroom using both onebillion software and iPads to enhance learning. You can read more about this visit here: https://enabling-environments.co.uk/2016/01/19/brazil/

MarcFaulder

Inspired by what they saw and with a good knowledge of the schools they work with in Recife, Marie invited us to partner with CESAR and look into the possibility of bringing onebillion to their schools.

During our initial trip this November, we’ll meet with teacher training institutions, local and state government representatives and Portuguese schools in the area. Marie and I have also organized a conference for 30 teachers where they can learn some ways to best use iPads in the classroom and how to maximize learning gains when embedding this practice in a learning environment.

A Chance to Reflect
There is much to learn on this visit. Plenty of time in this trip has been dedicated to meeting professionals and observing current practices in Recife schools. This visit is about hearing teachers’ stories and learning about their ways of closing the gap in math. Our purpose in these conversations is to exchange knowledge and share what we are finding in the U.K. and Malawi.

The most exciting part of this trip for me is looking at different learning contexts from the same perspective; closing the gap in math. It’s easy to look beyond your home country and see what is different. But to make comparisons based on learning gains for math provides a common ground for any teacher, no matter what the context is. What are we doing to support the children who are working below age-related expectations? Whether this be 10 children in a class of 30 in the U.K., or 80 in a class of 100 in Malawi, teachers are united by the way in which will tackle this issue. Being able to share the same resources to close our gaps is such an exciting way to collaborate and bring these school contexts together.

I look forward to sharing more of my visit with you as it unfolds over the next two weeks.

*Marc submitted this post to Squirrels on October 24, 2016. You can contact Marc and follow his adventure on Twitter

October 18 , 2016

Unlock, Pinch-To-Zoom and Sleep-To-Wake Highlight New AirParrot Remote 1.1 Features

AirParrot Remote version 1.1 is now available in the App Store. AirParrot Remote is a companion application to the AirParrot 2 wireless screen-mirroring software for Mac and Windows. With AirParrot Remote, users can remotely begin mirroring a computer screen, create media streaming playlists, extend a desktop and preview a desktop screen, all from their iOS devices.

AirParrot Remote 1.1 update notes: 

  • Added support for waking a Mac from sleep when connecting to it via AirParrot Remote
  • Added support for unlocking a Mac when connecting to it via AirParrot Remote
  • Added pinch-to-zoom and scroll support to Preview control
  • Preview control bar can now be collapsed to access the lower portion of a previewed screen
  • Automatically enable the mouse cursor in AirParrot when using Preview control
  • Improved support for clearing media playlists
  • Improved auto-reconnect functionality
  • Resolved an issue that prevented AirParrot Remote from accessing files with capitalized file extensions
  • Resolved a potential crash when attempting to remove a file from the playlist
  • Resolved an issue that prevented Preview window from being cleared when preview is no longer available
  • Miscellaneous bug fixes and performance improvements

All users must update their AirParrot 2 software to the latest version (2.6.2) to ensure compatibility with AirParrot Remote 1.1. You can update AirParrot Remote to version 1.1 in the App Store. Both updates are free for current AirParrot 2 and AirParrot Remote users.

Please let us know if you have an questions or comments below.

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Squirrels is a software development company based in North Canton, Ohio. Our excitement and passion lies in creating high-qualty, budget-friendly software that can be used to enhance the devices already found in today's home and work environments. Follow our blog for all the latest product releases, #TeamSquirrels news and industry insight!