I decided to do this post as I am running online safety training around Bury at the moment, both for school professionals and for parents and quite a few people didn’t know how to lock down an iPad using the Guided Access feature. I find it such a valuable tool as it helps to lock iPads down so that when pupils are given an activity to do they can’t go off into other apps and do other things instead.

Getting Started

You can start by finding Guided Access mode which is an accessibility feature, so you will find it in settings. When in this mode you can set a passcode which needs to be entered if the children try and exit the app. If they cannot enter the correct code, Guided Access stays on.  You can also specify parts of the screen than can’t be clicked on, very useful to “switch off” any banner adverts that you see in many free apps (tick online safety!).

Activating Guided Access:

  • First, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access
  • Within Guided Access you can move the slider to switch the mode on.

Guided Access Picture1

  • Click on Set Passcode to set up a 4 digit number that you will enter when you want to leave Guided Access. You will need to enter it twice.
  • Also switch on Accessibility Shortcut. This means that when you triple click on the home button, it will give you quick access to the Accessibility settings.

Guided Access Pic 2

Entering Guided Access Mode:

It is worth mentioning that Guided Access isn’t on all of the time. You need to activate it when you want to use it.

  • Open up the app you want your students to use and then triple-click the home button.
  • The guided access options will appear. You can turn these on before giving the iPad to the student.
  • The hardware buttons will always be disabled (i.e. the power button on the iPad, the home button, the volume buttons)
  • If you draw on the screen around an area, a grey box will appear, this will be a “dead spot” which cannot be clicked on.
  • You can even disable touch completely, useful if you want children to watch a video without clicking out of it.

Exiting Guided Access:

When you have finished using Guided Access simply triple-click the home button again, enter the passcode, and you’ll be able to change settings, resume, or end Guided Access. It’s important you don’t forget the code, and don’t let the children find out what it is!

Peaks and Troughs:

Children are locked into their learning, great for those who need that option when they struggle to focus.

Can be used as a virtual time out, when used correctly, I am tough but fair when using technology, so if I see a child off-task or ‘messing about’ I will lock the iPad for a minute as a warning- this is normally enough for the child to realise the consequences of their actions.

A problem with Guided Access is that you will lose a lot of the flexibility of using an iPad – and being able to Appsmash (use multiple apps at one time) perhaps for research and creation. For me this is what makes iPads unique, the ability to start a task in one app, take it to another to add to the content and then polish it off in another app, check out Joe Dale (@joedale) and Martin Bailey (@Animate2Educate) who are “app-solute” masters of this!  I’d rather not have to lock the iPad down. But there might be times where you need to do this, especially with very young children or those older ones that want to sneak onto something else such as Minecraft and are clever enough to double-press when they see you heading over, yes we’ve seen them!

I tend to allow flexibility and freedom when we’re working on iPads and we’re Appsmashing. Following a warning, if the negative behaviour persists I’ll lock the iPad with Guided Access and if the child needs addition content or to move onto the next part/app they need to wait for myself or an adult to unlock the iPad move them on and then relock it. If they get on with the task they can earn the trust back. I know not everyone will agree with that but if we’re preparing children for an ever-developing world where technology is becoming a more necessary part we need to manage issues and not block them immediately. Otherwise what will they do when they are faced with them at home or after Primary School; if a child is never trusted they can never earn trust.

If you have any other iPad tips, or better ways of doing this, please add them to the comments below!

Thanks for Reading!