Guided Access in the Classroom

Guided Access for iDevices was a topic of great interest for educators at a recent Professional Development that I presented at a local university. It is also the solution to ongoing enquiries from educators and members of the iTeach: Apps for the Classroom community about how to disable certain functions on their devices when they are under the control of their learners. In this post I will briefly explain some of the basic Guided Access features available to iDevices with the latest iOS6 update.  There are two main enquiry types that have been made, so I will outline how Guided Access may be used for each.

 What is Guided Access?

Guided Access keeps the iPad/iPod Touch/iPhone in a single app, and allows you to control which features are available or disabled to prevent students from performing specific actions that are not in alignment with the tasks that are set. Running it disables the home button and, depending on the selected settings, may also be used to disable touch or motion.

Problem 1 – My learner keeps exiting the educational app that I want them to use and then plays a game app!

Solution : This action can be prevented by running Guided Access. The only way to exit the application will involve pressing the home button three times and, when prompted, entering a secret four letter password that you have pre-set. The learner will be unable to enter a correct password and cannot exit the application without it. To find out how to set up Guided Access, see below.

Problem 2 – When using a designated app or video the learner alters settings in a way that is not suitable or appropriate to the educator or parent. This may include situations where the learner accesses in-app settings on an educational app to change or alter content (preventing effective learning). It also includes students continually stopping and starting an application or changing the volume levels up and down excessively.

Solution:  Under the Guided Access feature, these actions can be prevented by disabling a section of the screen that contains the button that controls these functions. To find out how to set your device to include this feature see below. 

How do I set up Guided Access?

Settings icon

To set up Guided Access click the Settings icon from the Home screen.

From the left-hand sidebar select General. From the right-hand sidebar select Accessibility. The right-hand sidebar will open a range of Accessibility options, select Guided Access. The Guided Access screen will be displayed. Move the Guided Access Slider to the ON position and select Set Passcode. Enter a password that you will use to control Guided Access as an administrator, re-enter your password and exit out of settings.

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Enter the app that you want to run Guided Access in. I have used a movie from my videos section for the demonstration. After the program (or app) opens, triple click the home button (if prompted select Guided Access). Select the START button from the top-right corner. You will be notified with a pop-up that Guided Access has started. Your learner may now use the app without being able to exit it and play other applications. To exit guided access just triple click the home button and enter your password.

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How do I disable part of the screen with Guided Access?

Enter the app that you want to run Guided Access in. I have used a movie from my videos section for this demonstration as well. After the program (or app) opens, triple click the home button (if prompted select Guided Access). You can draw with your finger a freehand shape around the area you want to disable. In the images below, I selected the on-screen play and volume slider area. If I wanted the whole of the selected area to be inaccessible, I would not need to do any more and I would just press the START button at the top-right corner.

However, I might want to allow my user to have access to the play/pause button but not the volume button. After I have drawn my shape around the button, I can now drag it to increase or decrease the area I want inaccessible. I decreased the height of mine to disable the volume. I can then press the START button in the top-right corner. The disabled section is shaded when you run the program or app.

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To exit the app or stop using Guided Acces, triple click home and when prompted, enter your password code. You will need to remove the selected areas if you want to remove this feature from the app/program.

A Word of Warning

Guided Access is widely considered to be the solution to access issues on iDevices with students. While it is a great feature, it is important to note that this feature might not be appropriate if you want to use an app with multiple screens and areas. Under Guided Access, that whole section when anywhere in the app or program will be disabled (even if there are no buttons or areas on subsequent levels or pages). While you won’t have to change and alter Guided Access for every movie you watch (because it is the one program), you will need to set it up for each app that you want to use Guided Access with.

Overall, I like the capablilities of the Guided Access feature for classroom use. Many students that have special needs quite often are very savvy with iDevices and it is hard to keep them from touching and changing settings that you would rather them not have access to. This feature solves the problem.

The next post in this series shows you how to overcome issues with Guided Access – HELP – I have a Guided Access Problem

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Middle School Confidential 1: Be Confident in Who You Are

Middle school confidential 1Middle School Confidential 1: Be Confident in Who You Are

By Electric Eggplant (valued at $2.99)

Middle School Confidential 1: Be Confident in Who You Are is a graphic novel, written by Annie Fox, which takes a serious look at issues involving children aged between 8-14 years. Book 1, ‘Be Confident in Who You Are’, brings to light our appearance, others’ opinions of us, losing our temper, standing up for ourselves, making assumptions about people, being stressed, and liking ourselves. The scenarios in the book are the kinds of issues I see in school environments every day.

I was recently given the opportunity to use ‘Be Confident in Who You Are’ with some students with special needs aged between 9 and 13. These students had issues that come up almost every day about speaking unkindly to other people, being stressed and losing their temper (this happened on multiple occasions every day), putting themselves down and letting other people walk all over them. This is not uncommon with all children in this age group.

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I placed the app up on the interactive whiteboard and it immediately aroused curiosity. This wasn’t the type of novel that they normally read. There weren’t a lot of words and one student said that he liked it but didn’t think he could learn anything with a comic book. How wrong he was! The book is designed so that there is only a limited amount of text, which is brilliant. This provides a framework for students to be able to read the visuals and make inferences.

Each chapter in the book provides a scenario about a particular issue. At the end of each chapter there is a quiz, comment, or solution that provokes deep thinking and challenges the reader to be more proactive and positive in their personal lives. I did not read the book as a whole; I decided to work around each chapter. For example, chapter 1 focuses on appearance and how others might make remarks about it. The characters discussed how they felt and I could see nods of agreement from my students. We discussed how important it was for our health and wellbeing to stay positive and try and be more active and healthy in our everyday lives. We also discussed how we feel when these things happen to us. As a class, we brainstormed for ideas about how to be healthier and happy.

‘Middle School Confidential 1: Be Confident in Who You Are’ was a huge success in our classroom. I used it every day in order to address real issues that were happening with my students. Often they found it hard to express themselves out loud. In this context, students were given opportunities to express themselves and their opinions and explain why they felt the way they did. It helped to further develop speaking and listening skills, and empathy.

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As part of our assessment for the English curriculum, the students were required to use visuals in order to create their own presentation. ‘Be Confident in Who You Are’ provides a rich source of visual imagery, and without these, the user would have difficulty understanding the text. As a group, students critically analyzed the layout and organization, stance and expression of the characters in the novel. This helped the students to develop their presentations using appropriate visual supports.

While I really like the format of ‘Be Confident in Who You Are’, I would like to see an option for non-readers to hear audio of the text (with different voices for the characters). Some of the students that I worked with, although in the correct age range for the book, had reading levels at grade one and would find it difficult to actually read the words.

‘Middle School Confidential 1: Be Confident in Who You Are’ could be used in a Reader’s Theatre activity. Students become excited and enthusiastic about reading when they are presented with the opportunity to participate in Readers Theatre. Students could develop scripts, perform in groups, and practice using their voice to depict characters from the text. Through this activity, students would have the opportunity to develop fluency and further enhance comprehension of what they are reading.

Overall, ‘Middle School Confidential 1: Be Confident in Who You Are’ was a great discussion starter and led to further engagement with values, and social and emotional health and wellbeing topics. I believe that this app helps educators and associated professionals to connect with their students in a meaningful and authentic way.

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