‘Just come in and hook up’: The simple case for implementing Apple TV in Higher Education


This educational vignette makes the simple case that Higher Education Institutes, including City University London, should adopt Apple TV because it will benefit both staff and students. Apple TV, has the potential to be a very useful learning technology.

City University London is currently engaged in the redevelopment of it’s estate. A major part of this is the reconceptualization of the Learning Spaces. The Learning Development Centre (LDC) is working closely with City’s Property and Facilities to ensure that pedagogical principles are considered in the redesigning of City University’s learning spaces. This is a very positive development, as learning spaces  is a combination of pedagogy and environmental psychology.

Students and staff can directly connect to the lecture room projector without the need of wires.

As part of the Learning Spaces stategy, City University London has created the Learning Spaces Group (LSG), led by Annemarie Cancienne and comprising City University staff with variety of roles including academics, students, researchers and professional staff . In LSG’s September meeting, I put this idea forward to the group; I suggested that by adopting Apple TV in our learning spaces it would benefit City University  students and staff.

This is because, I argued that although Apple TV is made to be used for more than just the lecture room (for example to download material from the iTunes store and connect to the internet) the Airplay feature of Apple TV makes it a great learning technology. Airplay gives the user the ability to project/ mirror their device in a classroom setting wireless and without the need to of restricting movement around the projector system.

Mirroring – puts your audience in the palm of the presenters’ hand.

Here are my top eight advantages for implementing Apple TV at City University London:

  1. Standard wireless set up across all rooms, sites and even between Universities. This is important as the user will find it easier to ‘just come in and hook up’.
  2. All Apple devices feature iTunes and the implementation of  Airplay allows users to stream music in a room without having to connect with a wire.
  3. Potentially, a group of students can come together in a learning space, use their Apple devices to project their work and should they wish, they can have their own personalised music playing in the background.
  4. Just by connecting the device and Apple TV to the same Wi-Fi network, the AirPlay icon automatically appears. Then the user simply taps the AirPlay icon in a specific app — Photos, Videos, Music, Safari, or any AirPlay-enabled app — and everything streams to the projector via Apple TV. It’s a simple way that allows students and staff to play material on the bigger screen and the lecture rooms sound system.
  5. Students can have better group discussions by being able to simply share any discussion related content straight from their Apple devices.
  6. All staff and students can use Apple TV to project their presentations straight from their Apple device, giving them more control and flexibility in their presentation. They do not need to worry about transferring their presentation slides to the projector computer as they can connect their Apple device directly. Also, they will no longer be restricted to one location, and instead they can walk around with their device at hand. Finally, they can control their slides seamlessly and if they use the Apple Keynote, they will have the ability to see their up coming slides.
  7. Furthermore, academic staff can use it as an effective tool for for lecturing. It can be used like a presentation tool (as outlined above) or it can be used in more creative ways to engage students with the material. One creative method is to use subject related apps on the Apple Device and project it to the students. This is great because there are many high quality educational apps in the App Store that can be used to demonstrate to students. In addition, the lecture could ask the students to connect to the projector with their device and to then demonstrate their own work. Please note that although the above examples are from schools, I think that the application of the technology is applicable in HE.
  8. I was recently in a meeting that desperately needed this technology. The speaker wanted to demonstrate the document he was referring to via his iPad but could not do this easily with the current provisions. So instead, after many failed attempts to connect the iPad with the projector system, he gave up and instead downloaded a copy of his presentation and opened it via PowerPoint. If Apple TV was present in that room, then it could have been used to allow speakers to demonstrate without the need to leave their seat or fiddle with wires.

I also recognise the limitations that come with using Apple TV as a learning technology. The three significant challenges are:

  1. Although Apple products are not the sole technology used at City University by staff and students, they are nonetheless very common. Recent research at City University (Reader, Lindsay, Sultany, 2012) shows that Apple devices account for 35% of many of the mobile devices our students us. This research is one year old and I believe this number has only increased recently, due to the launch of new apple products in 2012, including new range of Macbook Pro, iPhone 5 and iPad mini.
  2. The ability of City University’s wireless network to handle the potential new network traffic. AirPlay lets you wireless stream what’s on your iOS device to an external device and speakers via Apple TV, but this comes with the cost of more pressure on the wireless network. City University London is currently in the process of upgrading it’s network so this may no longer be an issue.
  3. Another limitation is the need for the projector system, or in the case of City University the “lecture pods” need to have an HDMI port. However, if the pods do not have this capability, a quick solution is to purchase the relevant converter (in City’s case, a HDMI to VGA converter).

The Learning Development Centre (LDC) at City University London is currently leading on a new learning space located at its new home, Goswell Place. This will act as a pilot space to develop our ideas further about our educational provisions, namely the further development of learning spaces. This space would be the perfect environment to pilot Apple TV and the Airplay capabilities.


Kate Reader, Sian Lindsay, Ajmal Sultany. Proceedings of the IADIS International Conference Mobile Learning. Berlin, Germany 11-13 March 2012.  Edited by Inmaculada Arnedillo Sánchez and Pedro IsaíasISBN (Book): 978-972-8939-66-3. http://www.iadisportal.org/mobile-learning-2012-proceedings

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8 thoughts on “‘Just come in and hook up’: The simple case for implementing Apple TV in Higher Education

    1. Thanks Sandra! Yes, the hope is that Goswell Place can be used as a testing ground for the implementation/ piloting of Apple TV.

  1. I really like the concept of Airplay used in conjunction with iPads and can see it being adopted by many iPad users here at City. I for one would love to be able to use it for my teaching! Hopefully with the pilot will spur this on.

    1. Thanks Sian! Hope you can be one of the first academic to use it at City University London when it is implemented!

  2. Great! I really like your blog and content. I also agree with you Apple TV, has the potential to be a very useful learning technology. Thanks for sharing your beautiful blog.

  3. Hi Amjal

    Thanks for this interesting post.

    I work in the Learning systems team at Sussex Uni, where we are keen to make it much easier for staff and students to interact together via our wireless network using tools such as Apple TV. The problem I anticipate for us for use across the institution is that the users in any given space aren’t necessarily on the same wireless sub-net.

    Have you had any issues with your wireless network infrastructure that has impacted on this project? Or any other issues working at scale? Or has it been generally pretty straightforward to enable this for people.

    Thanks for any info

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