Sunday, October 2, 2011

The VGA Switch - iPad and Computer connected to same projector

I have an iPad 2 which can be connected to a projector. But my computer is connected to the projector all the time because I use the SMARTboard for every lesson. I wanted to be able to connect the iPad to the projector easily without having to unplug things all the time. I thought, "It would be really great if I could just flip a switch between the two." Well, guess what? Such a beast exists. It's called a VGA Switch Selector Box. There are quite a few to choose from and I went with cheap. I paid less than $9 for it. That may not have been the best choice, but I didn't want to spend a bunch of money to find out it wasn't going to do what I thought it would. This is the one I got. I also got a headphone splitter so that I can have the iPad and my computer hooked to my sound system at the same time.

The first time I plugged everything in and switched between the two, I was so excited. It worked great. I used it for my classes that very day. Then I came back the next day and was slightly disappointed. When I hooked it up the first time, my computer was already booted up and ready to go for the day. When I booted up my computer the next day with the VGA selector box already plugged into everything, it seriously messed up the resolution on my computer. I unplugged everything, plugged my computer back into the projector directly and rebooted. The resolution was fine again. I re-plugged everything into the VGA selector and it worked great for the rest of the day. So this means that I have to have everything unplugged before booting the computer for the day and then plug everything in. That's a big pain. It sort of defeats the purpose of why I bought the thing. However, it does make things quick during classes when I have it set up in advance.

I'm unsure if my problems could have been avoided by investing in one of the more expensive units. I'm still playing with it to see if I can make it work with fewer set-up steps. I use a Mac and you can set up a display control in your toolbar to quickly switch between resolutions. That's the next thing I'll try when I have time to play with all the different resolutions to find out what I need.

I've had several post ideas floating around in my head for weeks, but I just haven't had time to post them. I don't know why this school year feels even busier than past years. I've been meaning to write this post for several weeks.

I'm using an online lesson plan site for my lesson plans this year. It's called When I signed up last year, it was free. Now there is a $9.95 yearly charge. There is a 30-day trial period if you want to try it out first.

I'm impressed with the service because it even works with my completely messed up schedule. My 2nd and 3rd graders come for 50 minutes on a three day rotation. I see my K/1 kids for 25 minutes two times in a three day rotation (some classes on days 1 and 2, some on days 2 and 3, and some on days 1 and 3). I was amazed that I can make that work in Planbook. The only think I couldn't figure out was how to incorporate my 4th and 5th graders five day rotation. My solution to that is that I have two separate Planbook accounts.

Planbook even has music standards for most states so that you can mark which standards you are working on in each lesson. It has the ability to deal with snow days and classes missed for whatever other reason. It is really very flexible. I really like that I can access it from any computer that has internet access.

There are a lot of other features I haven't mentioned here, but I encourage you to check out the site. I am in a beta testing group for an iPad app as well. I'm unsure when the app will be available.

Here's a screen shot:

Isle of Tune iPad App soon available

Good news! The iPad version of Isle of Tune will be available on Oct. 6. The cost will be $2.99. I'm really looking forward to having my students use this app for composition. They will love it!

Here's a sneak peek from You Tube that was posted back in March.