I have been a big fan of the inexpensive and easy to use Chromecast dongle for a year now. Even though it is great for home entertainment (YouTube, Netflix, etc.), it has been less than ideal in a school setting for a long time.
With the recent addition to screen mirroring things have changed considerably. Now it is possilbe to show virtually any kind of content via screencasting:
- multimedia (video, audio, photos)
- live app demos for your students
- web conferencing via a smartphone or tablet
- and much more
However, only a limited number of devices is supported currently (Android Kitkat and Lollipop). Of course, it is still possible to show photos from Google+ photos and videos from YouTube as well as a number of other options. One glaring omission, however, is still Google Drive and Google Slides support. I keep most of my media for my classes in Google Drive and I also would like to be able to show presentations, so I find it a bit dissappointing that Google hasn’t provided it yet. What’s more, if you want your students to show their local photos or videos via Chromecast it can also turn out to be tricky without screen mirroring.
One app that seems to have it all is the free Localcast (with an additional free cloud plug-in). You and your students can show both local media as well as access media (photos, audio, video, pdf files) stored on Google Drive. In addition you can show presentations using a little trick. As the app can show pdf files, all you need to do is to download a Google slides presentation from the Drive app and it is saved as a pdf file. Localcast then creates images on the fly (no animations, etc. supported!). The app is a bit quirky at times, but works great in general and there is an add-supported free version, so that the students won’t have any costs when downloading the app onto their devices.