By Becky Shiring
As an early adopter of integrating mobile phones into instruction, Reflector 2 is a tool I desperately wish I would have discovered while I was still in the classroom. As adult basic educators, I believe it is essential that we teach our students to utilize the tools they need to be successful in the real world whether that tool is the English language or a smart phone. And in fact, the two are certainly not mutually exclusive. There are loads of apps that can be extremely valuable in our students’ lives. But in order to fully benefit from these apps, students need to know how to utilize them, from download to daily use.
While in the classroom, when I found an app I wanted my students to be aware of, I can remember painfully trying to walk students through finding the app in the app store, downloading it, opening it, signing in and then using it, all while circulating the room demonstrating from my tiny cell phone screen. It was exhausting. Not to mention that some students used Android and others iOS. This frustration could have been eased with Reflector 2.
Reflector 2 is a wireless mirroring program that allows you to mirror your phone screen onto a computer. Every action you take on your phone is displayed on your computer screen as well. By connecting your computer to a projector, you can easily demonstrate the steps necessary to download an app or send a text message. As a trainer, I use it to lead others through learning how to use smartphones and various apps.
To use Reflector 2, first, visit Reflector 2’s website. Then download the program to your computer. The program is not free, but in my opinion, is worth every cent. One license is $14.99. The downside is when you purchase a license it is specific to one computer. So if you work for an organization and only want to buy one license, my recommendation would be to download it onto a computer that might be utilized by several teachers such as in a tech lab. Reflector 2 also allows you to download a two-week trial in case you aren’t completely sure. After signing up, reflector sends you easy-to-follow instructions for mirroring your phone to your computer based on if you have a Mac or Windows machine.
Another benefit of utilizing Reflector 2 is that it allows you to screencast multiple devices at the same time. So if your students are a mix of Android and iOS users, you can display both. The program also allows you to record your screencasts. The audio can be a bit sensitive so make sure you are in a quiet space when recording.
If you’re not able to commit to purchasing a Reflector 2 license and are looking for a free version, you can check out Vysor. Vysor is a screen mirroring tool that must be utilized through the Google Chrome browser and only works with Android based phones. In addition to this, the device must be plugged to your computer with a USB cord whereas Reflector 2 allows you and other users to connect wirelessly from anywhere in the room. The setup process to utilize Vysor is a little more involved because you must enable developer options on your phone. It sounds complicated but it really isn’t! A really great walk-through for setting up Vysor can be found here.
Besides utilizing Reflector 2 to model smartphone processes for students, here are some other suggested uses in the classroom:
- Create opportunities for student leadership and have a student screencast their phone and walk the class through a specific process (I have found many times my students know more than I do about certain apps and phone features!).
- Project based learning! Have students record a screencast teaching others how to use a specific app or feature and share with the wider school community.
- Record common smartphone processes and create a bank of videos for students (or teachers) who are unfamiliar or less comfortable with smartphones to utilize as needed. Check out this example here.
Have you used Reflector 2 or a similar service in your classroom? Tell us about it in the comments!
Becky Shiring is the Training Manager at Silent Circle, a technology company focused on privacy and security in digital environments. She also works with various organizations in the DC Metro area to provide professional development focused on technology integration. She has taught a variety of ESOL and ABE classes since 2006.