How to Share iPads in School Education
iPads are inherently personal devices, so sharing iPads in an educational setting or other learning environment (between classrooms or classes for example) is difficult. iPads don’t offer user logins or custom desktops for different users, so how can they be easily shared in schools?
Unfortunately, many schools share iPads between classes and students in much the same way they share laptop carts. Laptops can accommodate different user logins and therefore protect individual student data. iPads aren’t laptops and can’t be used the same way.
Most iPad apps cache your login information. In other words, once you’ve logged in, they automatically remember your login information and open your data when the app is opened again. The little love letter or risqué rap lyrics that Joey wrote will pop right up on the screen for the next user who opens the app.
A 1:1 environment is where every student gets his own dedicated iPad — and it’s unquestionably the preferred model for school use. You’ll have to overcome quite a few obstacles if you expect to share iPads between students. iPads just aren’t built to be shared. Having said that, there are some considerations that make it a little easier and safer to share them:
Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems. Sharing iPads at lower grade levels is far easier. There’s less data produced, and the data tends to be less sensitive. In the upper grades, students may be writing papers and keeping notes that need to be kept private.
Stay faithful to your iPad. Number your iPads, and keep a list or spreadsheet to make sure students use the same iPad every time. At least that way, students’ data should be available, and they’re sharing that particular iPad only with a small handful of other students. Also, anything that goes wrong will be easier to track.
You can always sticker the outside of the iPad with a number, but another approach is to create a large visible graphic with the respective number and make it the wallpaper for each device’s home page.
Skip e-mail. Forget setting up incoming e-mail in the iPad Mail app unless you’re prepared to let students see each other’s e-mail. Changing e-mail accounts in Mail requires going to Settings; that can get messy and time-consuming (although some schools do it that way).
Instead, access e-mail through the web browser. Many e-mail services, such as Google and Microsoft Exchange, have a web interface that you can access through Safari. Just make sure to log out when you’re done.
Log out, log out, log out. Few apps prompt you to log out when you close them, but many have an option to log out on their Settings menus. Encourage students to always log out before closing an app or website that requires a login.
Appreciate the silver lining of a cloud account. Consider saving data to a cloud-based service such as Dropbox. There are simple ways to move content from the iPad to a cloud storage account. On a shared iPad, one practical approach is to use e-mail. For example, some web services, such as Evernote, accept files that are e-mailed to a unique e-mail address the service sets up for your account.
You’ll still have to delete the files from the iPad, however, if you want to keep the information private.