Monday, April 27, 2015

Guided Access

Last week in CTELE, we had a session of Geek Academy. ("Geek Academy" is a term our professor has coined for days when each of us students shares a technology tip to the rest of the class.) The resource I shared for Geek Academy was Google News; you can read about this in my post "2015 Elementary Literacy Conference" from April 18. However, Erin Keiser (one of my classmates) shared a really cool feature for Apple products called Guided Access.

Guided Access limits your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to a single app. You can even control which app features are available within that app through Guided Access. Here are the steps for setting up Guided Access:

  1. Press "Settings" on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
  2. Tap "General."
  3. Hit "Accessibility."
  4. Scroll down to "Guided Access" and click it. From here you can toggle Guided Access on or off.
  5. When you turn Guided Access on, you will see the following menu (pictured below). Clicking "Passcode Settings" allows you to set your Guided Access passcode. (This passcode may be a four-digit number or your Touch ID on newer devices.) Clicking "Time Limits" allows you to set alarms for the amount of time the user is in Guided Access. Toggling "Accessibility Shortcut" on will allow the user to see your Accessibility Shortcut settings by triple-clicking the home button while Guided Access is enabled.
  6. Once you have your settings determined and Guided Access on, open the app you want to run.
  7. Within the app, triple-click the home button.
  8. Adjust your settings for the session, and click Start.
    • If you want to disable app controls or areas of the app screen, click the parts of the app you want to disable. A gray box should appear over those areas; drag the boxes to disable those portions of the app. (Unfortunately, attempting to screenshot myself doing this keeps closing Guided Access. Try it out for yourself on your device though, it is very user-friendly!)
  9. To end Guided Access, triple-click the home button and type in the passcode.
Overall, I think Guided Access is a wonderful feature on iDevices. It is quite suitable to the classroom setting; if teachers want students to remain in one app, they can set the Guided Access in that matter. Teachers can also reduce accessibility to certain portions of apps by shading out these sections in Guided Access. This would be useful on apps that have options for downloads or purchases, for example. I think this feature has its uses, and would definitely be suitable for teachers who want students to remain in a certain app for long periods of time. However, Guided Access does have its limitations.

The first problem is that your device can get stuck in Guided Access. This might happen if the device has a bug or freezes, or if the person who set Guided Access does not remember the passcode or is unavailable to give the passcode. After researching online, I found a post called "HELP - I Have a Guided Access Problem" by iteachappsfortheclassroom. This post details directions for completing a force reboot on your device or using Find my iPhone/iCloud to shut down Guided Access. When using Guided Access, you always run the risk that you may not be able to exit out of it; however, you run this risk whenever you use any sort of feature on your device. I do not think that this risk is enough to prevent me from using Guided Access (unless I knew I had a device that does not function properly).

Another issue with Guided Access is that it has to be set on every device, one at a time. If a teacher wanted to use a certain app on each iPad in a one-to-one classroom, he or she would need to go through the steps to turn on Guided Access on each iPad. That is why I mentioned above that this would be great for using a certain app for long periods of time; I personally don't think it's worth it to set up Guided Access on each device in the room if the app will only be used periodically and is not crucial to the activity.

One last issue with Guided Access that is particularly problematic for the classroom is that it can only be set on one app. There isn't a way to allow the user to access multiple apps at a time. If I wanted my students to be able to switch back and forth between a measuring tool and a calculator in different apps, I couldn't set my iPad to only allow access to these two applications. This is an issue that appears to plague many educators (according to my quick Google search). As the push to use technology in the classroom is so prevalent now, I hope Apple fixes this problem and figures out a way to allow the administrator to use multiple devices in Guided Access.

Overall, I think Guided Access is a great feature, and despite its limitations, there are definitely some benefits to using it in the classroom. I think I will wait to pass judgment on this feature until I figure out what I need my technology to do for my future classroom, as well as whether or not Apple adds the capability of using multiple apps within Guided Access. For now, I expect that the next time my mother wants to look through my pictures on my phone, I will set up Guided Access so she can't peek through my text messages too!

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