Wireless Screen-Mirroring

Ditto, Kramer VIA Go, Reflector

At a glance

Wireless screen-mirroring systems provide users with the ability to:

  • Wirelessly share a computer or mobile device screen to a TV, computer monitor, or projector display.
  • Eliminate the need to worry about what type of connection a device requires by providing a BYOD solution that handles many popular protocols.
  • Certain solutions allow more than one user to share their screens at a time, with or without moderation.
  • Some systems allow screen recording, annotation, or the ability to screenshot (capture) what is being mirrored. 

Scenario

Wireless screen-mirroring can introduce new ways for instructors and students, teams, and meeting groups to communicate their ideas and collaborate on projects. 

The following infographic provides an "at a glance" overview of the three systems, describes the best scenarios for when to use each, and discusses the pros and cons.

Reflector InfographicLaunch the Screen-Mirroring Systems Infographic.

Who to contact

Learning Innovation and Faculty Engagement – Nathalie Molina

Research Team

Nathalie Molina: Senior Instructional Designer, Academic Technologies

Jamil Porta: Systems Administrator, Student Support Services, Academic Technologies

Special thanks to: Hannah Inzko, Brett Babb, Preston Niell: Wake Forest University

References

Who’s doing it?

At the University of Miami, there are a number of departments who have begun incorporating wireless screen-mirroring solutions into classrooms and learning spaces.

Architecture Studio Spaces - Kramer VIA Go

UMIT deployed rolling monitors equipped with a Kramer VIA Go that allow faculty and students to project their screens wirelessly during studio sessions. For example, one of the studio spaces known as “The Jury Room” is often used for exam reviews and project critiques. During these sessions, students take turns displaying their work in front of their peers while the professor provides feedback. While the student is sharing their work on screen, the professor can simultaneously connect their own device to cross-compare their work with other designs. Kramer VIA Go allows both the student’s screen and the instructor’s screen to display simultaneously. Since the implementation of these wireless rolling monitors, the need for bulky projectors have decreased, saving time and increasing the functionality for users who need them. 

Kramer VIA GoThe Kramer VIA Go device installed on a rolling monitor in the "Jury Room". 

College of Engineering - Chromecast

The College of Engineering utilizes Chromecast for their Active Learning Classroom. The classroom space is divided into seven grouped tables which contain one display at each of the tables. The displays are equipped with wireless screen-mirroring capabilities. Students working in groups at each of the tables are able to cast their screens using the Chrome browser and Cast extension. For more information, check out the COE Chromecast Flyer.

Office of Classroom Management - Reflector

Office of Classroom Management, which manages the General Purpose Classroom (GPC) spaces, have been testing wireless screen-mirroring systems at the request of faculty. They have installed one license of Reflector in Dooley Memorial and are hoping to roll out more by the end of summer 2018.

College of Arts & Sciences - Reflector

One faculty member requested the ability to mirror his iPad so that he can move throughout the classroom and increase interactions with students. The Reflector software was installed on the classroom PC, which added the functionality for wireless screen-mirroring. The instructor can now project from his iPad to the classroom’s PC, which is then mirrored to the main projector. Reflector also supports the sharing of multiple devices simultaneously. This means that students can connect to Reflector to share their screens, while the instructor moderates whose screen is being shared through a control center on the PC. Finally, the Reflector software allows the instructor to annotate and record what is being shared to keep track of topics that were covered.  

Masters of Liberal Arts - Kramer VIA Go

For a conference room that doubles as a classroom space, the MALS program invested in wireless mirroring solution Kramer VIA Go as part of a room redesign. Their idea was for faculty and students to have a collaborative discussion-based environment that mimicked real life conference room settings.  

Wake Forest University - Ditto

Wake Forest University is on the verge of rolling out an institution-wide Ditto initiative. The majority of their current displays are equipped with Apple TVs for screen mirroring. They wanted to find a solution for non-Apple users to have the ability to mirror their screens. One way is to augment the current hardware with a software solution like Ditto. The Ditto software provides a consistent way for users to connect to Apple TV-equipped displays through a login page and a room code, regardless of device type. Following configuration, a Windows user will be able to connect to a system that uses Apple TV with Ditto.

Faculty Exploratory - Apple TV

The Faculty Exploratory is designed to promote interactions with technology and stimulate conversations related to technology integration in teaching and learning. The Apple TV and rolling monitor allow faculty with compatible Apple devices to mirror their screens during meetings or as a teleprompter in the One Button Studio. Any faculty member may reserve the space to utilize or test the system. Learn more about the Faculty Exploratory.

What is it?

Wireless screen-mirroring systems are hardware devices or software solutions that allow one or more users to share their screens eliminating the need to plug in a cable or depend on legacy adapters. The introduction of screen-mirroring systems into collaborative workspaces, classrooms, or conference rooms encourages a “BYOD” (“Bring Your Own Device”) environment.

How does it work?

Most modern personal devices, such as laptops and mobile phones, have built-in protocols that can send audio and visual data (such as photos, videos, games, slideshows, browsers, and applications) wirelessly to a receiver. Common protocols are AirPlay, Chromecast, and Miracast.

A receiver, such as an Apple TV or Chromecast dongle, takes in the data and sends it to a connected display. Receivers must be physically connected to a display such as a TV, computer monitor, or a projector, typically with an HDMI cable.

Third party platforms, such as Ditto (software), Reflector (software) and Kramer VIA (hardware) are solutions that support multiple devices with competing protocols.

Screen-mirroring systems, whether software based or hardware based, depend mainly on a wireless network. On the University of Miami’s SecureCanes wireless network, a Service Account is required to provide security and prevent password changes from breaking the solution. An administrator would request an account through the UMIT HelpDesk and then configure their solution. Users of the system would simply connect to SecureCanes and use the screen-mirroring system’s client interface, or directly connect using device protocols (such as Airplay or Chromecast), depending on the system.

Why is it significant?

Aside from the obvious convenience of wireless connectivity, there are added functionality and usability for end users. PC and Mac users have long had the ability to connect to large displays via HDMI, VGA and other cables. However, there is no wired equivalent for mobile devices. Until wireless screen-mirroring was introduced in 2010, mobile devices did not have a way to mirror their screens to larger displays. With wireless screen-mirroring, more devices can connect and share their contents with a wide audience.

Wireless screen mirroring can reduce the number of adapters used in a display system, which can reduce cost of maintenance for institutions in the long run.

In addition to mirroring, some solutions are designed specifically for academic settings. Solutions designed for education may come equipped with additional features such as mirroring with annotation and screen recording capabilities.

What are the downsides?

Unsupported platforms

While Apple TV and Chromecast are common solutions that provide the ability to mirror a screen wirelessly, users may have devices that are incompatible with either system. For example, Android users cannot mirror their devices through the AirPlay protocol on Apple TVs. This can severely limit the amount of users who can take advantage of these technologies. When deciding on a screen-mirroring solution, it is important to consider the user base and invest in devices that are compatible with them.

Firmware Updates

When protocols and receivers announce updates to their platforms, third party platforms lag behind on making updates to their systems. This can cause connectivity issues prior to firmware updates, and may impede usability of the system temporarily. Third party systems may take up to a month or longer to release updates.

Initial Use & Bugs

Although tooted for its ease of use, there is still a learning curve for first time users. Third party systems in particular may have bugs that arise from the sheer number of different devices that it claims to support. Testing and retesting in multiple environments can only ensure reliability 99% of the time, therefore it is always important to have a backup plan when attempting to incorporate these technologies in meetings, workshops, or classrooms. It is also wise to consider doing a test run so first-time users can become familiar with the technology.

Network Connectivity

Wireless screen mirroring relies mainly on a stable network connection. Some tweaking might be required to support multiple protocols and for video streaming performance. If wireless connectivity fails in a room, any screen mirroring solution would be inaccessible.

Where is it going?

As the adoption of BYOD (“Bring Your Own Device”) and (“Internet of Things”) keeps picking up pace, and wireless connections become faster and more reliable, the future of screen mirroring and collaboration is becoming a part of everyday life. From Chromecasts and Apple TVs to conference room systems and classroom solutions, screen mirroring is playing an essential role in the way we share content and collaborate. Competition within the A/V world is speeding up and more solutions are being developed and deployed. In the end, the most affordable, compatible, and reliable solution will have the highest adoption rate.

What are the implications for teaching and learning?

Traditionally large monitors and projector screens had their place toward the front of the class. In this case, the large display is the focal point of the room, and is conducive for one speaker at a time to hold the attention of the audience.

Now, wireless screen mirroring systems are providing the ability for multiple users (instructors and students alike) to connect their devices quickly and easily share objects in discussions and group projects.

Wireless Displays in the Active Learning Classroom

Wireless screen-mirroring systems are becoming the norm for flexible classroom spaces. In line with pedagogies that promote active learning, classrooms are adopting multiple screens and wireless screen-sharing devices assigned to small groups so they can work on projects, discuss ideas, and visually share their work together. Still, the virtue of active learning is with the meaningful design of learning experiences, and not with the technology. Not all active learning classrooms will utilize wireless screen-mirroring. In fact, feedback from faculty say that it is not a necessity, but a luxury item for the classroom.

Wireless Displays in Communal Learning Spaces

Wireless displays are popping up in learning spaces outside of classrooms, in studio spaces, and in library study rooms and learning commons spaces. Typically the displays are attached to rolling wheels, making them movable to the areas they are needed most. The displays are equipped with common receivers, such as the Apple TV, or multi-platform receivers, like Kramer VIA Go.