The potential of iPads as educational tools is beyond exciting. But without proper management, these devices can quickly devolve into distractions in the classroom. Imagine a classroom of kids surreptitiously playing with downloaded free apps and surfing the Internet instead of paying attention to your lesson! The good news is, iPads allow their administrators to set controls and restrictions. Here are a few tips from the field that will help make the task a little easier for teachers—and plenty of these tips apply for parents at home who are trying to limit their kids’ screen time.
Set some ground rules. First, your school must decide how to manage its iPads. Ask—and answer—the following questions:
- How will you manage user profiles? What restrictions will you enforce? Will you have one common student profile or vary them by class or group?
- Would you consider allowing your older students to manage their own iPads? Have you considered the risks versus the benefits of such a policy?
- How will you deal with instances of damage and theft? Will you buy insurance? Under what circumstances, if any, will students be held accountable? Has this been clearly communicated to parents through a Responsible Use policy?
Read Related: Why You Should Insure Your Kids’ Tech Gadgets
Know how to use restrictions on student iPads. “Restrictions” are the iPad’s version of parental controls—or in this case, educators’ controls. Whether you manage devices and profiles centrally or by individual device, you’ll want to put some thought into how to set restrictions on iPad use. Of course, restrictions will be different depending on the users and what they should be doing with the iPad.
If you’re assigning restrictions directly on the iPad itself, go to the Settings menu, tap General on the left, and then tap Restrictions. You’ll be required to set a passcode that can be used later to change or delete restrictions. Here’s a quick look at some of the most important restrictions:
- Disallow apps such as Safari (in case you want to use a different, filtered browser), FaceTime, and the iTunes Store
- Disable the camera and FaceTime
- Install and/or delete apps
- Disable multiplayer games in the Game Center
You can also choose to prevent changes to the following settings and accounts:
- Location Services (a good idea if students are posting any data to the Web that contains geolocation data, such as photos)
- Mail, Contacts, Calendars, iCloud, and/or Twitter accounts
In addition, you can choose to prevent access to specific content types, such as music and podcasts, movies, TV shows, and more.
Know how to track devices with Find My iPad. It’s almost inevitable that at some point or another, you’ll have to track down a lost or stolen iPad. You’ll need an iCloud account to use the Find My iPad feature; then you can log in to iCloud on any browser to view the location of your iPad on a map if and when it’s powered on.
Go to Settings on your iPad, tap iCloud, and enable Find My iPad. Then, if you misplace the iPad, sign in to www.icloud.com from any web browser on a Mac or PC to display the approximate location of your iPad on a map. Find My iPad will allow you to play a beep, display a message, lock your iPad remotely, or even wipe your data off of it.
Sam Gliksman is the author of iPad in Education For Dummies®. He has been leading technology applications in business and education for over 25 years. As an independent educational technology consultant, he advises educators on how to integrate technology into learning initiatives. Sam leads the iPads in Education community,http://ipadeducators.ning.com/.