How to lock down your iPad so students can only use a specific app in the classroom

I know quite a few teachers who own iPads (or iPad minis.) There are lots of great iPad apps for use in the classroom, but not all of us have access to school iPads. So, of course, some teachers opt to use our personal devices to bridge the gap.

There are lots of people out there who would never hand over their personal smartphone or tablet to a student. You’re just asking for trouble. The problem, of course, is that our iPads contain a lot of personal information that you don’t want your students rifling through: your contacts, emails, photos… Heck, you probably don’t want them flipping through your recently viewed movies on Netflix.

But there are lots of great reasons to use an iPad in the classroom: make a movie, create a stop motion animation, access accessibility features like voice over, or use a voice recording app so the student can demonstrate their understanding while drawing on the iPad. Some of us are brave (or crazy) enough to hand over our own personal devices to our students to use in the classroom.

Unfortunately, Apple iOS doesn’t allow us to have multiple user accounts which means there’s one single user account on your iPad for teachers, family members, students, etc. This is one of the biggest downsides to having iPads in the classroom: multi-user management doesn’t exist which means if you’re a teacher and you’re letting a student in your class use your own personal device, you run the risk of having students mess around with your stuff.

wpid-Photo-Apr-13-2013-919-AM.jpgThere is a buried feature in iOS 6 that lets you lock your iPad to a specific app. You can disable all of the hardware buttons, the home button, and even parts of the touch screen so that a student can only use a specific app and not access your personal stuff.

A friend of mine recently showed me this trick at school, and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to find it. (How long has it been since iOS 6 came out?)

Guided Access lets you lock down your iPad so a student can only access one app. According to the Apple website, it’s designed to help students with disabilities (i.e. autism) remain on task and focused on content.

In reality, Guided Access is something that every teacher who uses an iPad in the classroom should know about.

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How to shut down Windows 8

Change is tough for some people. So I imagine when your school computers switch from Windows XP (or Windows 7) to Windows 8, a lot of students and teachers will wonder where the start menu went.

(It takes a while getting used to a new operating system. Ask anyone who’s switched to a Mac or Chrome OS device.)

Most of us are used to shutting down our Windows computer in two steps:

  1. Go to the start menu and
  2. click shut down.

But of course, they took away the start button in Windows 8 and replaced it with a start screen. So now, it takes four steps to shut down your Windows 8 school computer (if you can find the hidden charms menu):

  1. Pull out the charms menu.
  2. Click the settings charm.
  3. Click the power button.
  4. Click on shut down

Some of us will have no problems with finding the charms toolbar. (You move your mouse to the top right corner of the screen and it magically appears. Or, you hit the ⊞ Win+C buttons.) But I’m anticipating a lot of questions from some specific teachers (you know who) who can’t find the hidden toolbar.

Add a shutdown shortcut button

Personally, I’ve added a shutdown shortcut button to my desktop, start window, and toolbar at the bottom. Now I can shutdown Windows 8 in just one click. I suppose you could add this shortcut to your school computers, but I just imagine a lot of accidental clicks.

Use a keyboard shortcut to shut down Windows 8

Some of your tech savvy students/teachers might find it easier just use a keyboard shortcut to shut down their machines.

  1. Use ⊞ Win+D to go to the Windows desktop (if you’re not already there.)
  2. Use Alt+F4 to open up the Windows shutdown screen.

Of course, this might not be as easy on a Windows tablet.

Add back the start button to Windows 8

Or, you could just add back the start button to your Windows 8 machine. There are a couple of third-party apps floating on the internet. (I haven’t tried any of these):

Then again, maybe this isn’t an issue at all. Our students will grow up in a world of Windows 8 and never know the start button even existed. Have I become that teacher who talks about the past? Will the Windows start button take a backseat beside the Commodore 64 and that turtle in Logo?


How do your students shut down Windows 8?

Things I like about Animoto for Education

A colleague of mine recently showed me a very cool way for students to create good-looking videos. It’s called Animoto.

Animoto lets you quickly and easily combine text, images, and videos into beautiful videos. The videos really do look good. Your students will be impressed with what they can create. My friend’s grade 6 students wrote short stories for their kindergarten learning buddies. They then created promo commercials for their short stories as a media literacy assignment. The 30 second promo videos were very cool.

You can do everything with their free lite version, but you’re limited to creating a 30 second web quality (360p) videos. If you want to create longer videos (i.e. 10 minute videos), download your video, have a wider variety of video style themes or commercially licensed music tracks, then you have to pay money.

Once you start using Animoto in the classroom, you’ll quickly realize it’s a great way for creating family portrait videos. If your phone is filled with snapshots of your family, there’s a free Animoto app that lets you quickly put together a video memory. We use shutterfly in our home to create photobooks. Animoto’s a way to create a video photobook. If you’re okay with web quality videos, you’re looking at the Animoto Plus account ($3.00 per month.) If you want HD video quality or longer 20 minute multi-song videos, you’re looking at the Animoto Pro account ($25 per month.)

Having said that, teachers can apply for education accounts.

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