Guided Access, by Stephen Tafoya
Even though the iPad is not kid-friendly out of the box, it does have a few tricks up its sleeve. One of those tricks is Guided Access.
Guided Access allows the user to lock the iPad into one active app so that the user cannot get out of the app or access certain features without the passcode. Often, this feature is used with students who are on the autistic spectrum or kids who have a hard time focusing but need to complete their assignment within one app. I am currently using it so that I can focus on writing this blog post and not jump out to check my news feed every two minutes (see, it’s made for distracted techy dudes too!). If the child were to hit the home button, the device would give a message that the Guided Access feature is running and that the child needs to “triple click the home button to exit.” If the child triple clicks, he is prompted to enter a four digit password (if a password has been set up) in order to exit Guided Access or to change any of its settings.
To access Guided Access on your own iPad, follow these steps (screenshots below):
Click: Setting > General (on left hand side) > Accessibility (on right hand side) > Guided Access (under ‘Learning’ category)
From there, you can turn on Guided Access and change its settings.
Now let’s apply this feature practically in Early Literacy programs in our libraries. Say you are hosting a Digital Storytime where the kids and parents have playtime afterwards with the iPads. Maybe you had a certain theme and want them to complete a specific activity on the iPads today versus letting them free-roam the apps as usual. Guided Access will keep the child (and parent) on task in order to, say, complete a finger painting of an elephant in the app Art of Glow. Or maybe you are considering using iPads as an Early Literacy station in your library somewhere. You can definitely leave it open to all the apps you have installed (with Restrictions in place of course), or you could do some creative programming by hand selecting apps for use on certain days of the week, maybe tied into the theme of storytime or Summer Reading.
Or perhaps you’ve just so happened to position yourself as the App go-to Guru in your library, and parents are looking for ways to use their iPad with their children and they need help keeping them in one app at a time (e.g., to spend time learning their letters before launching into Angry Birds).
Whatever the case, just know this is a tool for locking into an app for singular use. I recommend trying it yourself. Turn on Guided Access, set a passcode (but don’t forget it!), experiment with the settings, lock yourself in your own apps so you can finish your work before checking what’s up on Facebook! Exit out. Log back in. Do it again and again until you are a master and ready to use it to meet your needs!Stephen Tafoya works as a Technology Trainer for a library district, and he partners with Youth Services Coordinators to engage kids and teens with technology in library programming.