We want to always think the best of our students and trust them to be carrying on with their assigned task on the class iPads. The reality is that they are often flicking between apps and browsing the internet the moment our backs are turned. As our students become more skilled with their devices, parents and teachers need to stay a step ahead....or at least keep up.
A short story....
I was walking past a classroom this year. The class was spread out around the room working on devices from the school trolley. Three students were sitting with their backs to the window. I slowed to have a look at what the class was doing and I noticed that as the teacher approached, the students quickly flicked apps and continued to do the work they were supposed to do. The teacher looked at the screens and continued on. The second she was out of earshot, the students had flicked back and were continuing their off task behaviour.
The potential for trouble
A often underappreciated tool with parents and educators is the Guided Access feature that is built into iPad. Often used by retailers and vendors, this mode prevents users from leaving the selected app.
To enable Guided Access head to your device settings. Go to the Accessibility options and then select Guided Access. Slide the button to enable the feature. You will note that in the explanation underneath you will then have to triple click the home button to switch it on and off once you are in the app you want students to remain in.
Guided Access requires a passcode to disable it. In the passcode settings, you can also enable touch ID. Alternatively you can also set the time limit options so that Guided Access will automatically disable by the end of the lesson. Enable the Accessibility Shortcut so that you have greater control of the features.
Once you are in the app, triple tap the home button. Guided access is now enabled. Triple tap again to view the options. You will be prompted for the passcode. From the options menu (pictured below), you can set the timer, decide which buttons can be used and even disable certain parts of the screen. To do this you can draw a circle around the sections of the screen you want to be dead. This can be handy for stopping students leaving set activities or the app in other ways. From this screen you can also end Guided Access.
Not the only solution
While Guided Access is handy, it isn't the only way teachers should be ensuring students are on task. It can be timely to manage on a class set of devices. Establishing clear expectations and monitoring the students as they work is essential. Having students work in pairs or teams can deter poor choices if the groups are selected mindfully. Positioning yourself in a location that allows you to see student screens or not allowing students to sit against walls can also be helpful. While there are also screen monitoring software applications available, the danger in using them is that it can lock a teacher to their desk and prevents them from moving about the class and conferencing with the students.
What are some of the strategies you use to monitor student device use and keep students on task in the classroom? Share in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!
Read all about my thoughts on teaching in the 21st Century, my experiences with technology in the classroom, running a Maker Space, launching STEAM and Design Thinking with students, coding, robotics and much more!
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