From the makers of the extremely popular Reflector (also featured on teachingwithipad.org) comes an exciting new application called Slingshot. If used to its full potential, Slingshot can bring together both educators and their students to collaborate and make presentations in a whole new way.
AirPlay mirroring has been an excellent feature in the classroom to promote wireless mobility while you circulate among your students. The features of Slingshot takes this capability one step further. Now, anyone who joins a session that you host will be able to see your screen as you teach (providing that they have a compatible device). The possibilities of this are plenty.
Review: What is mirroring?
Simply put, mirroring is showing off what takes place on your iOS device onto another screen. AirPlay will allow wireless mirroring from your iPhone/iPad to a projector connected to an AppleTV. Also, one could attach an iPad via HDMI to a projector and mirror that way as well. These two ways of mirroring limit the location of the projection: you have to be either in the same room or within the same WiFi range. Slingshot uses the ability to mirror and makes it possible to do so with anyone around the world, with many different devices able to view the shared screens.
Upon my testing of Slingshot, I found the video chat to be a bit laggy, perhaps due to the WiFi connection where I was located. These issues are commonly experienced with apps such as Skype and FaceTime as well. We encountered screen freezing and dropped audio on occasion. After I moved to a different location, closer to my router, things improved dramatically. Despite these hiccups, I am impressed with the UI and the quality of the app and its services.
Mirroring in Slingshot
As the session host, I needed to download the Slingshot program onto my Mac if I wanted to be able to mirror my devices. Once the Mac/PC program was installed, I simply logged into my account and followed the necessary steps to be able to share my iPad/iPhone screens. I was excited to see that I could not only share my iOS screens, but my Mac screen as well. So, for more intensive programs, a Mac user would be happy to know that his/her screen can be mirrored as well.
Sharing the screens to a colleague across town was effortless and a new thing I had not been able to do before. He could see me swipe between screens and change apps without any trouble. Having tried both the iOS and Mac sharing, we were both excited to see and brainstorm the possibilities of Slingshot in the classroom.
Like with Skype and FaceTime, have video chats with everyone in the session. Unlike Skype and FaceTime, you can multi-task with Slingshot and do much more than just chat.
This was a very cool feature that all attendees of a session can take advantage of. From the device, you can select to share anything from Camera Roll (photos and videos) within just a few taps. However, you can also share other documents (PDFs, .docs, etc.) by exiting the Slingshot app, opening up, say, Dropbox, tapping the Share icon and selecting “Open in Slingshot”. Sharing documents through Slingshot reduces the need to email everyone separate files, resulting in a seamless way to use and share files on the go.
Chat (written) & Meeting Minutes
Anyone who is in the session is able to chat and contribute to the meeting minutes. The chat sessions and meeting minutes are not saved within the app, but there is an option to email or copy and paste it into another app. Use meeting minutes as a way to keep a record of what's happening.
Educational Uses for Slingshot
Let's uncover educational uses and advantages of Slingshot from three perspectives:
1. A Teacher Perspective;
2. A Student Perspective;
3. An Administrator's Perspective;
1. Penpal/Buddy classes
If you wanted to show someone something through FaceTime, it would require holding it up to the camera. People would not be able to see the details of the work. With Slingshot, you can directly share an image or share your screen. This opens a new world of opportunities that Skype or FaceTime can't. FaceTime is (just) video and audio, and Skype does both of those and allows written chat. With Slingshot, you can share documents/files at the same time. You can even exit the Slingshot app and still be connected through audio.
2. Showcase Student Work
As a classroom teacher, we take pride in great student work. We can send student work home to parents. To go further, we share it to the rest of the class, then perhaps on a large bulletin board for the school to see. With Slingshot, students can share to a broader community. The students can get instant reactions to their work by the invitees. They can easily include supporting documents. This teaches live presentation skills. Interaction is the key here. Slingshot allows for this, to ask questions and get answers instantly.
3. Travelling classes
If you have a class going on a trip, use Slingshot to share personal experiences LIVE with the rest of the school. Connect the school iPad to a projector at an assembly for all to see. Display photos and videos and narrate your experiences at the same time.
4. Distance learning
Teachers who do not regularly see their students in the classroom can take advantage of Slingshot by regularly communicating with their students. Students can directly show their work from their PCs or iPads to the teachers. They can even hand in assignments right within the document sharing
5. Field Experts – Authentic learning beyond the classroom
Students can seek an expert in a desired field (Physics, History, Spanish etc.) and invite them to use Slingshot. Experts can give presentation, and students can prepare questions for them. Also, students can show their work to the specialist and receive expert feedback immediately.
6. Simultaneous chat feature
This will be very useful for classes. Not only can students see each other on the screen, the chat window allows for written practice as well. Students learning second languages can practice both oral and written skills. Teachers can assess the written output of the entire chat.
7. Teacher training
Instead of physically bringing in an expert in the desired field in education, they can invite presenters to use Slingshot to remotely deliver their material from wherever they live. Administrator's could find a larger variety of people to present, and save some money at the same time.
Check out this video showing how Slingshot works:
After your free 30 day trial, pricing begins at $9.99 monthly for one-to-one sessions. Only the host will ever need to pay; a Slingshot account is only necessary for the host, and anyone with the login code and join for free.
Conclusion: Who should use Slingshot in Education?
A tech-savvy teacher will definitely benefit from the features of Slingshot. It is only the person creating a session (and whose screens are mirrored) who needs to pay the fees. The people joining the sessions do not ever need to pay; They just have to have the app/program installed on their device. Therefore, if you are an educator who works a lot with apps and have the passion to share what you do with people, then Slingshot is an incredible tool to do so. $10/month would be a small price to pay if you have a chance to promote what you do to others. Host as many sessions as you want. Impart your knowledge.
People can attend sessions from various different platforms. iPhone, Mac, PC, and even Android devices. This is an extremely user-friendly application which will allow collaboration between people across the globe. As we become better online digital citizens, we now have the opportunity to use this brand new and fresh way to collaborate with basically anyone with an internet connection.
The iPad is an incredible tool for education that has emerged in the past few years. With new technology like Slingshot arriving, we can only imagine the positive benefits it can bring to our teaching. Reflector allowed us to mirror our screens to a computer and also screen record. Slingshot's main selling point is the REAL TIME aspect. Setup is painless and takes literally less than five minutes. You don't need any cables/wires/adapters to use Slingshot.
Download the Slingshot app here.
Sign-up is quick and only requires an email address to get started. An account is not required to join sessions, and all Slingshot downloads are free.
For official FAQ, check here.
*Note: Slingshot is not to be confused with Facebook's new SnapChat rival, also mysteriously called Slingshot. Read more about this conflict here.
Have you tried Slingshot? What are your opinions? Please let us know in the comments!