Apple’s announcement and release yesterday of iOS 9.3 and the new Classroom app may at last make the iPad truly education-friendly. And frankly, it’s about time.
The free iOS 9.3 update includes the following enhancements (and is required in order to use the Classroom app):
- Night shift (can be scheduled to remove some of the blue hues of the screen so that it is easier on your eyes when it’s darker outside; may help those of us on our devices late at night to sleep better; find it under Settings> Display and Brightness or in the Control Center)
- Secure Notes (password protect individual notes in the app, keeping the information safe from others; to enable it, go to Settings> Notes> Password Protection)
- News (better and more personalized story curation; new landscape reading mode; and new swipe gestures)
To upgrade to iOS 9.3, simply go to Settings> General> Software Update. It’s helpful to be plugged in and on WiFi when you perform the update.
The new and free Classroom app has some great features to make it easier for teachers to manage iPads. Here’s what the app provides:
- Assign Shared iPads to students
– Once configured, Classroom connects to nearby student devices
– Classroom intelligently assigns students to the Shared iPad they most recently used
– Log students out of Shared iPad at the end of a session to prepare for the next class
- Start, focus, or pause student work
– Launch any app, website, or book on student devices with a tap
– Lock devices into a single app to help students focus
– Lock screens to pause work or refocus your class
- See what your students see with Screen View
– See an overview of all student screens at once
– Focus on a single student screen
– Students are informed when their screens are being viewed
- Share student work on the classroom Apple TV
– Showcase the great work your students are doing to the class
– Use AirPlay to wirelessly present a student’s screen
– Students are informed when their screens are being presented
- Reset forgotten passwords right in the classroom
– Reset a Managed Apple ID password without calling IT
- Organize student devices using groups
– Classroom automatically creates groups of students based on the apps they are using
– Teachers can create groups to break students into project teams
– Perform actions on entire groups or on individual students within groups
As you might expect, there are some requirements in order for Classroom to work. You must have:
- iPad with iOS 9.3 or later
- iPad (3rd generation) or later, iPad Air or later, iPad mini (1st generation) or later, iPad Pro
- App configuration via Mobile Device Management server
- Supervised Student devices enrolled in Mobile Device Management server
- Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled on both student and teacher devices
- Student devices within Bluetooth range of the teacher device running Classroom
What do you think? Do these improvements simplify the use of shared iPads in the classroom? Let me know your experiences as we try them together.
This was very exciting for us in our district, and we waited with baited breath for the details to release. The classroom app looks great, and we have already reached out to our MDM to begin the setup process (however that may look). Unfortunately for us, Shared Use iPads are only going to be supported by the latest hardware: iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, and iPad Mini 4, so we won’t get to experience this feature. We begin our initiative several years ago and have invested heavily in earlier devices.
It is really exciting to see where Apple takes this! It’s nice that they are beginning to listen to their Edu customers. Great things to come, I am sure!