iPads in Education: 2 Tricks that Every Teacher Should Know!
It is winter break across the nation, and I thought I would us this time to deliver a gift to those teachers who have been incorporating iPads into instruction and their daily classroom routines. iPads are great tools for learning. In a 1:1 class, they can provide students with personalized learning experiences automatically tailored to their unique ability. Likewise, the data gathered can be a priceless planning tool for the teacher. I was blessed this year with the opportunity to incorporate 6 iPads into my classroom, and although I don’t get the privilege of personalization, they have proven themselves for small group activities, paired assignments, independent centers, and even self-documentation.
However, I also teach kindergarten. Five year olds have not developed that urgency to practice rote skills to improve their reading and math abilities. They would rather leave assigned apps and explore what the other apps can do. As much as I love their curiosity, I also want them to use the devices to raise their achievement. I have tried many strategies to motivate my students to stick with iPad assignments, including rewarding their work and assigning iPad helpers as classroom jobs to monitor students and answer questions.
This all changed when I upgraded the iPad 2 devices to iOS 6! After reading a HeidiSongs blog post, I discovered an accessibility feature called, “Guided Access,” and I have not stopped telling everyone with an Apple product about it! With “Guided Access” turned on, a user can go into any app and triple click the home button. The app shrinks somewhat to reveal a controls border. The accessibility feature allows users to disable hardware buttons, touch, and gyroscope motions. Users can also circle app features such as ad space and the iPad will grey-out the able rendering it useless! The first time I locked my students into a Phonics practice app that I wanted them to work on, they immediately pressed the home screen button to find a more entertaining app, followed by a very disappointed, “AH!” However, the students quickly remembered that they were still working with an iPad, and they began working on the assigned app without anymore complaints!
Another complaint I share with other teachers is the inability to access valuable flash-based educational games. Flash seems to be the universal language of all online free educational games, but Apple iOS devices do not support. Over the years, some “app-ified” versions of popular “edu-flash” sites have trickled into the App Store, but these apps are nothing compared to the full site. Moreover, after spending so much money on iPads for the school, schools have to spend even more to buy apps that would make them worthwhile. If only there were a way to access flash on an iPad! That’s where Rover comes in. Rover is a free app educational app that acts as a special internet browser for educational flash-based web services. Suddenly, schools can be more frugal with tech budgets because a free app unlocks the free educational world! My school tried it with Dreambox. Dreambox is a completely flash-based web service that provides completely personalized math instruction to one of our third grade classes. It is such an amazing investment; however, their flash-based only service limits how our kids access it. The class is one to one in iPads; however, the students had to access the service from 2 IBM desktops from 2005. Rover opens up the service so that all the students can access valuable self-paced math instruction!
In review, the iOS 6 feature “Guided Access” allows teachers to limit iPad use to a specific app. Rover is a free open source browser that allows iPads to access valuable flash-based educational resources. The two have made our iPad implementation much easier, so I had to share them with our readers! My gift to you. Happy Holidays!