September 15, 2017

Classroom Collaboration Tools You Should Know About for the 2017-2018 School Year


Collaboration is an essential ingredient to education. We're here to tell you about a couple education technology tools you should definitely know about (with reasons why) if you want to boost collaboration in your classroom in the 2017-2018 school year.

Must have collaboration tools for the 2017 - 2018 school year

(Psst...Short on time? Jump to the bottom of this post to access a free webinar about guiding instruction and promoting collaboration with tech. Watch it now or later.

Imagine two classroom scenarios:

Scenario one
You want students to complete work on their iPads or Chromebooks and show the rest of the class how they came to their solution. But instead of the whole class being able to easily see their work, you all have to huddle around tiny iPad and Chromebook screens.

Everyone squints and strains to see the screen. Or, students have to shuttle their devices to the front of the room to manually plug in. Time is wasted. Students are distracted. 

Either way, the group collaboration effort falls flat.

Sound familiar?

Scenario two
While your students are working on classroom devices, a few of them venture onto Facebook, YouTube or any other distracting website or app.

Attention and focus is lost, and the most valuable finite resource in education -- learning time -- has been wasted. 

Does this one sound familiar, too?

Education tools for the 2017-2018 school year

Two must-have EdTech tools will turn these problems into nothing more than bad memories.

Reflector 2
Instead of straining your eyes toward the 9.7-inch iPad screen to see how students solved a problem, use the Reflector classroom screen-mirroring app to wirelessly share their work on the big screen with the entire class. Better yet, share (or record) any number of student devices with the class simultaneously, regardless of the device they are using.

How it works
Reflector is downloaded on a teacher’s Mac or Windows computer. iOS, Chromebook and Android devices can wirelessly display on the Reflector-enabled computer. Most teachers connect their computer to a projector or interactive whiteboard while running Reflector so the entire class can see what is happening on any wirelessly connected mobile device. Better yet, students don’t need any additional software downloaded onto their devices. They connect using native Cast or AirPlay technology that’s already built into the devices. Connecting is simple!

Reflector gives students a sense of pride in their work by showing it on the “big screen.” Teachers can actively connect the class, engage students and promote idea sharing by showing work side-by-side, letting students compete in activities and even doing a student/teacher demo. It’s a win-win situation.

ClassHub
If students are on Facebook or a distracting app instead of working on an assigned task - no biggie! ClassHub allows teachers to monitor what students are doing on their devices, gauge progress, identify problem-solving techniques and limit distractions.

The best part about ClassHub? There is so much more to this device management solution than just monitoring student devices. You might be surprised to know that ClassHub lets you:

  • Push content from your computer to one or all student devices in the classroom
  • Share student screens with the entire class
  • Lock students into applications
  • Install and remove applications on student devices
  • Open web URLs on student devices
  • Send alerts

All these features combined create a powerful, robust solution for teachers and administrators to make the most out of classroom technology.

Oh, and remember when we said that Reflector works with a wide variety of classroom devices? So does ClassHub! In fact, ClassHub works with 97% of common classroom devices including iOS, macOS, Windows and Chrome OS. And that's good because schools use many different devices in today's classrooms. 

Want to improve classroom collaboration in the 2017-2018 school year? Click on the image below to watch our 5 Fresh Ways To Use Reflector In The Classroom webinar. You'll get tips and tricks from the most innovative educators using Reflector. 

Reflector collaboration technology for education


Interested in ClassHub?
Contact us today. We'll personally give you a guided tour of the ClassHub device management solution. 

November 7, 2016

Reflector 2 Classroom Checklist

ChecklistAs education enters a new age of mobility, classrooms are starting to resemble modern-day coffee shops. Teachers aren’t limited to standing up at the front of the room doing most of the talking. Students can collaborate through technology and take charge of their own personalized learning no matter where they are seated in the classroom. Classrooms are transitioning to more of a comfortable and collaborative learning environment.

Today’s classroom arrangement bears little resemblance to the classroom we experienced as kids. Chalkboards are now interactive whiteboards, students are turning in their textbooks and notebooks for iPads and ordinary pencils are being tossed aside for stylus pens. Who would have pictured a classroom like this 10 years ago?

We pose the question: with all of these devices and technology competing for attention in the classroom, is it possible for students to actually be collaborative with one another? How about with teachers?

The answer is yes. The Reflector 2 screen-mirroring software allows students to take a hands-on approach to their education and facilitates collaboration while they apply key concepts in the classroom. Students can share their work side-by-side, present group projects and have competitions when working with apps such as Kahoot or Quizlet. Teachers can even be collaborative with their students by showing instructions next to student results.

So, what do you need to make this collaborative, mobile classroom a reality? Here’s your Reflector 2 classroom checklist:

  1. Mac or Windows computer to run the Reflector 2 software
  2. iOS, Android, Chromebook or Surface Pro* devices that students can share content from
  3. Projector or interactive whiteboard if you want to display student content to the whole class
  4. Reflector Director (optional) for teachers to access the Reflector 2 controls from their iPad or iPhone instead of from their computer
  5. Reflector Student (optional) to show students the same Reflector 2 display on their iOS device that the teacher sees on the computer, as well as provide connectivity alternatives for schools with restrictive networks

Pro tip: You can wirelessly connect as many mobile devices to Reflector 2 as your school network allows (sweet spot is usually between four to five devices).

That’s it! Pretty simple, right?

If you would like to learn more about Reflector 2, you can watch our “How To” videos, including How to Connect to Reflector 2 and How to Record Mirrored Devices on our YouTube channel. Or, you can visit our website to learn more about Reflector in the classroom.

*Microsoft Surface Pros require our sister app, AirParrot 2, to wirelessly connect to the teacher’s computer because Surface Pros do not come equipped with a native screen-sharing functionality such as Apple’s AirPlay or the Chromebook/Android Cast technology. 

October 31, 2016

Moving Around the Classroom with Reflector Director

If there’s one thing educators know about Reflector 2, it’s that it allows students to truly be “mobile” with their iOS, Chromebook or Android devices. If students can be mobile, why do educators seem so restricted with their devices?

We wondered the same thing. That’s why we created Reflector Director – an iOS companion app that allows teachers to move about the classroom and interact with students all while still accessing the controls of Reflector 2 from their iPad or iPhone. Goodbye to the days of teachers being chained to their desk, and hello to the new era of teacher mobility.

Reflector Director gives educators the ability to:

  • Show and hide student devices without disconnecting or reconnecting
  • Highlight one student device to spotlight important content
  • Eliminate distractions with full-screen mode
  • Change frames for optimum screen compatibility
  • Observe screen previews of each connected student device before displaying to a larger screen

Reflector Director

Let’s take a step back for a moment and ask ourselves, “why is it important for teachers to have mobility in the classroom?" All of these features mentioned above are useful, but what does that really do for the efficiency of a classroom?

Here are seven reasons why teacher mobility is important for efficiency in the classroom:

  1. Teacher mobility saves time by keeping teachers from running back and forth to their desks to control Reflector 2
  2. It’s easier to walk around and give students more one-on-one attention
  3. Teachers are able to guide and educate students on the usage of technology to prepare them for real-world environments
  4. The teacher becomes the encourager, advisor and coach of classroom technology
  5. The overall efficiency and flow of the classroom improves
  6. Teachers stay engaged with students throughout the lesson plan
  7. Technology barriers between teachers and students are removed

Reflector Director In Use

With educators being called upon to find beneficial ways to incorporate technology into their classroom, they need to find solutions that empower them and give them confidence. Keeping up with the change in EdTech can leave a teacher overwhelmed and discouraged, therefore leaving the teacher unable to influence students in the best ways. Reflector Director was designed to allow teachers to feel confident using their classroom technology by making collaborative learning via mobile devices easy.

Teachers play an essential role in every student’s education, behavior and development. In the EdTech world, it can be difficult to manage a mobile classroom by concentrating on every student. With the help of powerful remote-display-management apps, like Reflector Director, this is made easy, and each student gets the attention they need.

Check out Reflector Director for yourself. We’re sure you’ll be impressed, and want to make it part of your everyday classroom routine.

April 19, 2016

Optimize Reflector 2 for the Classroom

We’re proud to say that Reflector 2 is now in more than 100,000 classrooms across the world! Educators use it as an affordable way to quickly, conveniently and wirelessly display mobile devices to larger screens in the classroom.

What often gets overlooked is that there are certain Reflector 2 settings educators can take advantage of to make it ideal for the classroom. The following is a list of settings that will optimize our Reflector 2 screen-mirroring technology for use in any classroom environment.

Broadcast Name
Since Reflector 2 runs on the teacher’s Mac or Windows computer, the teacher should change the Reflector 2 Broadcast Name to his or her name. This will allow the students to easily identify the appropriate computer to connect their mobile devices.

Example: Instead of naming the computer “Computer 1314" or using the teacher’s first name, use something more specific like “Mrs. Smith’s Computer."

Click the Reflector 2 icon near your computer’s clock and then click on the gear wheel in the bottom right corner to access Reflector 2 preferences. After that, click “General.” From there, you can edit your computer’s Broadcast Name.

Reflector 2 Classroom Optimization

Show Client Name
We recommend you set the “Show Client Name” option to “Always.” When a student or teacher connects a mobile device (such as an iPad, iPhone, Android device, Chromebook or Surface Pro) to Reflector 2, the device name will appear and stay on the computer screen. This will show the teacher which students are connected and displaying content to Reflector 2.

Go to Preferences> General > Show Client Name > Always

Connection preferences
We recommend that teachers change the connection preference to “Connect and Hide.” When this preference is turned on, a device will not be automatically shown on the screen when it connects to Reflector 2. The teacher can choose to show or hide each device from the Reflector 2 control panel. Turning “Connect and Hide” on prevents students and other teachers from interrupting class by displaying their device on the big screen when it isn't meant to be displayed.

Go to Preferences > Connection > On Connection > Connect and Hide Device

Enable AirPlay and Cast Connections
We recommended that teachers enable both AirPlay and Google Cast device connections in Reflector 2. Enabling AirPlay connections allows students with iPads, iPhones and iPod Touch devices to connect to Reflector 2. Enabling Google Cast connections allows students using Chromebooks and most Android devices to connect.

Students using Surface Pros must download AirParrot 2 onto their Surface tablet since Surface Pros do not have AirPlay or Cast technology built in. AirParrot 2 adds AirPlay and Cast technology to Surface Pros to enable wireless streaming and mirroring to Reflector 2, Apple TV or Chromecast.

Go to Preferences > Advanced > AirPlay/Google Cast > Enabled

Set Reflector to “Always on top”
This setting will automatically place your mirrored devices on top of all other open windows and applications.

Go to Preferences > General > Click “Always on top”

Director and Student - “Allow to discover this device” 
Reflector Director ($6.99) and Reflector Student (free) are our Reflector 2 companion apps.

  • Reflector Director is an app that turns a teacher’s iPad or iPhone into a remote for Reflector 2. Teachers can access the Reflector 2 controls from their mobile device. This allows them to walk around the room while remaining in control of Reflector 2 rather than being anchored at the computer.
  • Reflector Student is an app for student iPads and iPhones. It shows students the same Reflector 2 display that the teacher sees on the computer. It also provides connectivity alternatives for schools with restrictive networks.

There are two steps for this one:

  1. Go to Preferences > Director > “Allow to discover”
  2. Go to Preferences > Student > “Allow to discover”
August 27, 2015

Teach Like an Alpha Squirrel

Become an Alpha Squirrel at alpha.airsquirrels.com!

It’s no secret. Educators are some of our most devoted and passionate customers. We hear from teachers every day about how they use our screen-mirroring technology to connect classroom devices and enhance the student learning experience. That's why we're excited to announce our new Alpha Squirrels leadership program for educators.

The Alpha Squirrels program will allow educators who love our products to spread the word as certified Squirrels product experts. This advocacy program gives Alpha Squirrels members exclusive access to:

  • Squirrels-sponsored conference attendance
  • Squirrels-sponsored conference speaking engagements
  • Unreleased Squirrels products
  • Squirrels welcome package – T-Shirt, coffee mug/tumbler, sticky notes, water bottle, headphones, pens, pencils, etc.
  • Opportunities to appear in video interviews
  • Free AirParrot 2 and Reflector 2 licenses
  • Alpha Squirrels member certificate
  • “Alpha Squirrel” signature badges for Twitter, Facebook and email
  • Product training, press kits and talking points
  • Chance to visit Squirrels Headquarters
  • Alpha Squirrels features on the Squirrels blog, Instagram and Twitter
  • On-demand interaction with Squirrels product designers and managers

Become an Alpha Squirrel at alpha.airsquirrels.com!Our Alpha Squirrels will become product experts on the Squirrels suite of products – Reflector 2, Reflector Director, Reflector Student and AirParrot 2 – to help fellow educators improve their classroom technology solutions. It is our goal to empower Alpha Squirrels to elevate their status as EdTech experts, share knowledge within their professional network and support the Squirrels community.

We’re ready to find our Alpha Squirrels. If you’re an educator committed to EdTech or Squirrels products, you just might be one of them. For more information, visit alpha.airsquirrels.com or give us a call at 1-855-207-0927. Or, fill out the nomination form to become one of the world’s first Alpha Squirrels!

About Us

Squirrels is a software development company based in North Canton, Ohio. We create high-quality, budget-friendly screen mirroring and device management software that’s compatible with today’s most popular devices. To date, our software can be found in hundreds of thousands of classrooms, businesses and homes. Follow our blog for all the latest product updates, Squirrels news and technology insight!