A colleague and I have been struggling for the last few years to find a workable way to record the motions on an iPad. Sure, there are loads of apps that allow you to create screencasts on your iPad . Those apps allow you to record presentations and lessons with the iPad but we wanted to actually demonstrate how to use different apps. We’ve been leading a one-to-one iPad program for several years and it can be a challenge to teach students how to use some of the more complicated apps. I’ve tried using a FlipVideo camera positioned over my iPad to record demonstrations but I’ve never been really pleased with the final product. But with a newer product called Reflector, the process is easy and the end result is pretty impressive.
Reflector is technically a program that allows iOS devices to “AirPlay” over a wireless connection. This means that the actions on the iPad can be shown on your laptop without being connected via a dongle. While the app costs $12.99, a trial version is available and the program is PC and Mac compatible. The connection process is pretty simple. While Reflector a powerful application, the features are simple to use and intuitive. Once you open the application on your computer, simply select AirPlay on your iPad and the device is projected on your computer. One note, however: Not every wireless network supports AirPlay. I couldn’t use Reflector using my campus wireless network, for instance. On my home network, however, the process was up and running within moments. I was mirroring my iPad to my laptop and watching, with a little delay, the actions on my iPad.
But mirroring is only part of the iPad screencapture process. You’ll need to pair the Reflector app with a screencasting program on your computer. This may sound complicated but the process is simple. If you’re just starting out, I’d suggest using an application like Screencastomatic or Jing. Both are free applications that are really easy to use. Just start the screencasting program on your computer and start recording all of the movements on your iPad. While the Reflector app has its own build-in recorder, it doesn’t work with all operating systems. I found it easier to use the Reflector app with a screencasting program with which I was already familiar. Here’s a demonstration I recorded on how to move files within Dropbox.
While I initially worried about working from two devices (my iPad and my computer), I found the dual functions really helpful. Without a cursor on the iPad, I wondered whether viewers would have trouble understanding what I was clicking. Using the cursor on the computer to focus the viewer’s attention, however, I was able to better demonstrate how the Dropbox app functioned. While the cursor had no functionality with the iPad, it did help to situate the discussion and lead the viewer to specific locations on the iPad screen. With its mirroring capabilities, Reflector will open the door for a host of new tutorials on every iOS related. Let the floodgates of iPad screencasts open!