iPads in Storytime: Primary Time+ (Part II) by Bradley Jones
Last fall, my library started its first storytime incorporating iPads. I wrote about it here previously, and I wanted to follow up on how it’s going. I also want to say that I have been greatly encouraged by and learned alot from reading other people’s posts on this blog. So thanks everybody–you are all awesome!
Primary Time+ is a weekday evening storytime for K-1 kids with caregivers offered once a month (except in the summer). We present a variety of formats (oral tales, big books, action songs with ukulele, & “regular” picture books) and always end with a parent-child app sharing time. We make handouts available with recommended apps, app review resources, and (since Kendra at Read Sing Play mentioned it) I’ve been providing copies of this information sheet from the Fred Rogers Center titled “Advice for Parents of Young Children in the Digital Age” to refer to and give to interested parents. For the past several months I’ve also been getting my feet wet presenting one iPad app story each session.
Here’s a bit of a recording of me presenting The Very Cranky Bear. There were only a handful of families on this night, so the atmosphere was quiet and low-key. The quality of the video isn’t all that great, but you can get an idea of how this particular equipment setup works. While a little painful, it was actually really helpful to see myself on video–I could see things I didn’t realize I was doing. One mistake was showing the iPad screen to the group while it was being projected behind me. This ends up dividing their attention–some kids are watching me and the iPad and some are watching the screen. I’m also looking at the screen instead of the kids much more than I imagined I was.
On another day, I did the iBooks version of Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes. I had the publisher’s website open to the song clip so they could hear how the song goes once. During the story, I left the iPad sitting on the projector stand so my hands were free to accompany the sung refrain with ukulele–reaching over to swipe the iPad to turn pages (maybe there’s a foot pedal for this?). This also freed me to get up and walk around in front of the projected screen.
I’ve been using a 30-pin to VGA dongle and cable to connect the iPad to a portable projector. This setup let us get started with the equipment we had on hand, but there are disadvantages to it:
- The portable projector has to be at least 6 feet from the screen–putting it sort of right in the middle of the room.
- Even 6 feet from the screen the projected image isn’t as big as it could be.
- The 30-pin dongle plug will come loose if you don’t keep a finger on it.
- You are tethered to the projector stand, which makes it harder to refer to the projected images than if you could stand up in front.
Just last week we successfully got a wireless mirroring setup to work. As Holly Southern mentioned in her post, it takes some fiddling to get it to work with your library network, but is totally worth it. Here’s more about that fiddling: We got an Apple TV ($99) and this special HDMI to VGA adapter (also available from Apple for $59). The problem (as my IT network specialist explained it to me) is that our library, and many others, block certain ports on their wifi network. This prevents patrons from accessing each other’s computers while sharing the wifi network. But that is exactly what the Apple TV and your iPad need to do–they have to access each other over the shared wifi network via these ports to do the mirroring. The Daring Librarian (@GwynethJones) recently tweeted this article which covers this info and has a link to this table of the specific ports that different mirroring setups require to be open. Whether or not AirPlay will work at your library depends on which ports are closed and why–hopefully this information will help you be able to talk to your IT department about it. In our case, opening all the necessary ports would hurt network security, so what my super-awesome IT person (have I mentioned how much I love them?) did was create a new, password protected wifi network separate from the public one with the ports open just for mirroring devices. I can’t wait to try the mirroring live when PT+ starts again in the fall!