Today Apple had their annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC 2012) announcing things like their new Macbook Pro and new updates for the operating system for iPads and iPhones called iOS 6. Among other things, one key feature that stood out to me as a teacher is called, ‘Guided Access.’ Here is the official description from Apple’s website:
“iOS 6 comes with even more features to make it easier for people with vision, hearing, learning, and mobility disabilities to get the most from their iOS devices. Guided Access helps students with disabilities such as autism remain on task and focused on content. It allows a parent, teacher, or administrator to limit an iOS device to one app by disabling the Home button, as well as restrict touch input on certain areas of the screen. VoiceOver, the revolutionary screen reader for blind and low-vision users, is now integrated with Maps, AssistiveTouch, and Zoom. And Apple is working with top manufacturers to introduce Made for iPhone hearing aids that will deliver a power-efficient, high-quality digital audio experience.”
This being a blog for teachers what caught my attention was, “It allows a parent, teacher, or administrator to limit an iOS device to one app by disabling the Home button…” This new feature allows a teacher to chose an app and then disable the home button basically restricting the students from exiting the app and then trying to open other things such as youtube, facebook, or whatever else. So if students are given iPads during their Algebra I class to use the Quick Graph app to graph a system of linear inequalities, they will not have the temptation to open the Messages app and start texting all their friends about how bored they are in math class.
And that is the key factor. Once students become accustomed to fact that the iPad can be restricted then they will lose the distraction of trying to do other things once they get their hands on the iPad. All it takes is one student to open a funny video and the whole class becomes distracted. A teacher’s worst nightmare would be a classroom full of students with iPads who are not on task because they’re too busy on twitter, facebook, instagram, youtube, pandora, draw something, and anything else other than what the teacher needs them to be on.
I look forward to this update which is not due until the fall of 2012. Unfortunately, however, the iOS 6 update is only available for the iPad 2 and the New iPad (3rd Generation) and will not be available for the Original iPad which is sadly what I was given. Regardless of that fact, Guided Access will be a welcomed feature for teachers.