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Shared iPad and Classroom app from iOS 9.3

Now that iOS 9.3 has rolled out, there is still a question on how the changes and new features which were introduced, affect the way that iPad is utilised in the classroom.

For some background, we published a popular blog post back in March, that introduced some of the education focussed features of iOS 9.3. In this post, I'll be focussing on two key features “Shared iPad” and the new “Classroom” app.

Whilst past upgrades and updates to iOS have been aimed at the everyday user; iOS 9.3, contains new features targeted at the educational marketplace. Apple almost seem to have timed this to give school tech teams and administrators, the summer break to evaluate and comprehend everything before making the most of these new features for the new school year in September.

Shared iPad

One of the standout features is ‘Shared iPad’, which simply allows students to sign into any iPad and their settings, books, documents and applications will be downloaded automatically. Put into context, it means that students can move from class to class, and log into an iPad in each room and their work will follow them; whilst the original iPad stays put for other students to use. If you have students that use the same assigned iPad, possibly every day or for specific lesson groups, then thanks to an intelligent cache, the students won’t even have to wait for everything to download – all the data will already be there - saving valuable time and network resources.

This is a big step for Apple, as this feature is the first time multiple users have been supported on iOS devices. It is widely seen that, with this feature, they are taking the needs of education very seriously indeed and have recognised the needs of schools, particularly when budgets are constrained and resources such as iPads, need to be shared.

There are a few requirements for this feature to bear in mind, however. Firstly, hardware… iPad's will need to have a capacity of 32GB or more and will need to be either an iPad Pro, an iPad Air 2 or iPad Mini 4. Please bear this in mind if you have a suite of older iOS devices deployed in your school and think you'd like to make use of this new feature. The iPads will also need to be enrolled in DEP (Device Enrolment Programme) and be ‘Supervised’. This is mandatory and only available if the iPads were purchased from an Apple Solution Expert for Education (ASE), such as KRCS. Finally, you will need to have a Mobile Device Management solution in place (MDM) such as that offered by JAMF Casper or Lightspeed. If you need assistance on any of this, then do please talk to us and we can walk you through the benefits and features open to you with an MDM.

Classroom app

The other major part of iOS 9.3 for schools, is the ‘Classroom’ app. The app is aimed at the iPad-enabled teacher and lets them check out the progress of their students, bringing them to various apps in a lesson plan and to use AirPlay to share students’ work.

Via the new app, teachers can now have access to a new ‘View Screen’ command, which lets them remotely view any iPad screen in the class. If needed, they can use ‘Open’ to launch and lock a specific app, or ‘Navigate’ to open a webpage or book page on one or all of the iPads in the classroom. If there are problems in keeping the students involved in the lesson, then a teacher can even lock-in a specific app, so students who find it difficult to remain on task, and are perhaps misusing the iPad can be helped to stay focussed and not disrupt the class. The student iPad itself can also be locked completely by the teacher.

We will be looking at more education focussed features in the future so please check in on the blog regularly.


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