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Control your iPads with Guided Access

More and more schools are integrating iPads into classrooms. And while there are tons of apps designed for social studies teachers that encourage quality teaching and learning, new tools always create unexpected consequences. One of the things that I constantly hear from teachers is that their students are easily distracted while using iPads.

It’s easy to say that it’s simply a matter of designing engaging lessons to keep kids on task. But we all realize that the iPad, and all of its bells and whistles, can be hard to resist. You might have one or two students who are always off-task no matter what is assigned. So teachers keep asking

Is there some sort of management tool that I can use to keep that one kid where he belongs?

And the answer is

Yes. It’s called Guided Access.

Guided Access is built into the iOS of Apple mobile devices and lets you:

  • Temporarily restrict a iOS device to a particular app
  • Disable areas of the screen that aren’t relevant to a task
  • Disable the hardware buttons

Basically Guided Access lets you limit your students to just one app, keeping them from going to other apps by clicking the Home Button or using the Five-Finger Pinch.

Guided Access isn’t something that is automatically turned on. And this is the one drawback to the tool. You will need to activate Guided Access on each of the student iPads or mobile devices that you want to restrict. So . . . it’s not very practical to activate for an entire class because you will have to touch every device. But it is still very useful for those one or two kids that are constantly somewhere they aren’t supposed to be.

You can find Guided Access in the Settings app. Tap Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access to set up Guided Access.

guided access 2

From there you can:

  • Turn Guided Access on or off
  • Set a passcode that controls the use of Guided Access and prevents someone from leaving an active session
  • Set whether the device can go to sleep during a session

Once the tool is “turned” on in the Settings, you can activate it any time:

  • Open up the app you want the student to use.
  • Triple-click the home button to open the Accessibility Features.
  • Tap Guided Access and options will appear. Turn these on before giving the iPad back to the student.
  • The hardware buttons should always be disabled. This prevents the student from clicking Home Button, adjusting volume, using the Five Finger Pinch, or shutting off the iPad.
  • You can also highlight certain parts of the app to disable that area of the app. Simply trace your finger around the area you don’t want to access and a grey box will appear. This becomes a dead spot to the student. This is useful if there are buttons that allow the user to go to another site or open another app.
  • You can also disable Touch and Motion.

To turn off Guided Access once the student is finished, simply triple-click the home button again, enter the passcode you created, and end the session. Doing this also lets you change settings and resume a session.

Important tip:
Don’t forget the code.

I also like the idea of using Guided Access with a mobile browser like Sandbox. Sandbox is a simple whitelist browser that keeps kids on just the sites you select.

Want a step by step video by classroom teacher? Head over to Jessica’s six minute overview or get a short and sweet version.

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