Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Does Somebody Need a Timeout? A Method for Managing iPad Distraction

One of the key skills a teacher in a technology infused classroom needs to learn is how to adapt their existing knowledge of classroom management for a technology rich environment.  Without adequate classroom management techniques, the tools can become a central distraction, instead of central to teaching and learning.

Today an idea floated my way was for a Technology Timeout.  This concept works if the student is working on an iPad, which is (or will soon become) the primary learning tool for students in our district.

The technique is grounded in Guided Access, a function of iPads with iOS 6 and above.  Guided access allows an individual (presumably the teacher in this scenario) to open a specific app, to determine acceptable use for that particular app by only allowing certain areas of the app to be selected, and to password protect that app so that the student cannot leave that app or portion of the app without the teacher re-entering the Guided Access password.  

For a Technology Timeout, a teacher must identify and state to the student the unacceptable behavior being performed by the student.  Then the teacher should request the iPad, open the settings/accessibility features on the device, and set the Guided Access feature for the student.  At that time, the teacher should also identify a time when Guided Access will be turned off if a student's behavior again becomes acceptable to the teacher.

Remember, if you choose to set a Guided Access code on a device, it is CRITICAL that the teacher:
  1. Remember the password used for setting Guided Access
  2. Remove the password lock for the device following class if that student is moving on to another class where the device is in use (unless other concerns or directives have been given)

While the process of using Guided Access may seem slightly complicated, it really isn't.  Try setting Guided Access on your own iPad and you can quickly learns the ins and outs of the feature.  A little practice and you'll be feeling comfortable and, more importantly, you'll be armed with a reasonable consequence (that doesn't entirely remove the device from the learning environment) the next time one of your students refuses to stay on task or to utilize his/her device properly in your classroom.  

Learn how to use Guided Access by reading this article or watching this video.

Remember, the School District of Waukesha owns the student issued iPads, and as such, has every right to recall, search, lock, and alter the iPad in any way a staff member sees fit.  It is definitely appropriate for any teacher to redirect students in their use of the iPad, to search the iPad, to add features such as Guided Access to the iPad, and to collect the iPad if it becomes a distraction or is used improperly.