I want/need my iPhone (without jailbreaking it) to support video-out functionality, not just for video/movie playback but also to show my active/current screen when selecting and using different applications. According to the Apple Support Article “iPod and iPhone: TV out support,” the iPhone and iPod Touch just support “TV Out” currently. “TV out” functionality is available if you own an “Apple Composite AV Cable,” advertised to:

Easily connect your iPod or iPhone to the composite video inputs on a TV. The cable also features audio and USB connectors, and a USB Power Adapter is included.

In the workshops I’ve shared to date about Cell Phones for Learning / iPhones in the Classroom, I’ve used the free application MonitorMode (nod to Tony Vincent) to show my screen to the audience using my built-in iSight camera. This solution certainly leaves much to be desired, however. Unless video-out functionality becomes available for the iPhone, I really need to arrange in advance for a document camera to be available in the presentation rooms when I share this workshop or bring my own, so I can use it to zoom in and show the iPhone screen in stable detail as I demonstrate the functionality of different applications.

The YouTube video “iPhone as a videogame Device” (nod to MacRumors) shows one gaming example of how the iPhone 2.2 SDK can be used to output video from applications directly to a television or other external display device. This functionality is potentially a VERY big deal, with lots of positive implications for educators as well as students which go beyond gaming.

Since this is apparently a hack, it’s not clear if at some point Apple will formally permit this type of video-out functionality for the iPhone and iTouch. I really hope they do.

Both the iPhone and iTouch are compelling platforms because increasingly, as more creative and powerful applications are released for them on the iTunes App Store, these devices can be used as computers for CONTENT CREATION and not merely consumption. This, in my view, is a key differentiator when it comes to the devices/screens which schools should embrace for 1:1 learning initiatives. Digital curriculum has numerous advantages over analog/paper-based curriculum, but (as I noted in my reflections last week following Dr. Z’s webinar for ISTE) any educational initiative focused on digital curriculum faces the hardware digital divide: How will students be provided with ready access to a SCREEN which permits them to access and consume content?

This conversation must go beyond “content delivery,” however, and highlights the fact that 1:1 learning initiatives must be focused on at least five key issues:

  1. Hardware: The wireless computing platform
  2. Content: Digital curriculum and software
  3. Connectivity: Bandwidth and access both at school and home. (Yes I did say HOME, don’t call your laptop program a “1 to 1 Learning Initiative” if you don’t let the kids take the laptops home. It’s essential, as OLPC project leaders know. Read TCER’s report “Third-Year (2006-07) Traits of Higher Technology Immersion Schools and Teachers” about TxTIP schools for research-based support for HOME laptop access.)
  4. Pedagogy: Student learning tasks must be active and not merely passive, students must regularly CREATE content as the 2001 revision of Bloom’s taxonomy highlights. (Sustained, ongoing professional is essential.)
  5. Sustainability: How will the learning initiative continue after initial grants or outlay funds are gone? (Just ask the majority of TxTIP schools who have discontinued their 1:1 projects about the importance of sustainability. Or ask AALF leaders.)

In my view, as I discussed in my MASSCUE keynote “Creating and Collaborating: The Keys to 21st Century Literacy” several weeks ago, the new CCC of the 21st century should focus on:

  1. Creating
  2. Communicating
  3. Collaborating

This is the basic reason I would OPPOSE an educational learning initiative which would seek to provide all students in a school with a Kindle: It may have robust output/viewing options for users, but the INPUT options are VERY limited.

reading a kindle in central park
Creative Commons License photo credit: colin_n

School leaders typically would not have an objection to the AT&T slogan, “Your World Delivered.” What school leaders DO often have objections to, in innumerable U.S. school districts, is the capability of students’ digital devices to create and publish content. CCC pedagogy is NOT embraced by most of our schools today. Traditional, stand-anddeliver, passively-receive “fill the pail” pedagogy IS embraced by most of our schools, IMHO. This must change.

Man, they just don't give up
Creative Commons License photo credit: miss_rogue

I hope we see iPhones and iPod Touches with robust video-out functionality in the months and years ahead. I could certainly use that functionality in my workshop presentations! We need more than screens in the hands of our students, however. In many cases, a majority of secondary-age students ALREADY have cell phone screens in their pockets and purses, which in a few short years will all be able to watch DELIVERED video content at will. We need students to have a more protean and input-rich wireless device than today’s cell phone or an Amazon Kindle, however. We need 1:1 learning devices which support CCC pedagogy.

For more on the essential pedagogy needed in 1:1 environments, see Andrew Churches’ work on “Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy” shared on his Educational Origami wiki. I also recommend Phil Schlechty’s books “Working on the Work: An Action Plan for Teachers, Principals, and Superintendents” and “Leading for Learning: How to Transform Schools into Learning Organizations,” as well as Grant Wiggins’ “Understanding by Design.” Pedagogical change and leadership is key.

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3 Responses to iPhone and iTouch video out functionality, 1 to 1 Learning, and CCC Pedagogy

  1. Penny Coutas says:

    I too would love to see screen mirroring on the iPhone / iPod Touch. Then… imagine if we could also use a bluetooth keyboard. Who needs a laptop? 😉

  2. Kent Chesnut says:


    Although not exactly what you are looking for, maybe there’s a VNC server for the iPhone. With a VNC Server running on the iPhone, you could use a client on your laptop to remotely control (and display) the iPhone screen.

    It was interesting to see your note about passive educational practices. I’ve been reading Dewey’s Democracty and Education (1916) and you may find the following quote may be interesting…

    “Why is it, in spite of the fact that teaching by pouring in, learning by a passive absorption, are universally condemned, that they are still so entrenched in practice? That education is not an affair of “telling” and being told, but an active and constructive process, is a principle almost as generally violated in practice as conceded in theory.”

    Shocked me… I thought constructivism was rather new!


  3. Finn Ryan says:

    I’ve been following iPhone/App development because as you illustrate, it stands out as potentially changing the face of education. I’m still caught up on how iPhones could be used in school settings given current budget and infrastructure limitations. While Obama has committed to changing this (http://www.nytimes.com/external/idg/2008/12/08/08idg-Obama-Broadban.html), most districts could barely afford the hardware (phones) let alone the subscription and maintenance costs. Do you see a future where these are reconciled?

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