Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sharing an iPad Safely With Students with Secret Apps Lite

Many teachers are using iPads in the classroom. iPads are well suited for individualized use and hold so many possibilities in the learning setting. But what should you do if you want students to be able to benefit from using the iPad in the classroom that you also use as a teacher for productivity and classroom management?

I had seen some apps that had password locks for things like photos so adults could safely share their device with their children or grandchildren. Because I mostly use them professionally with others and less personally, I hadn't had use for these apps until recently. I was doing an iPad training where there was not enough iPads to even pair up with and lent out my other iPad to use. I had turned off all of my email accounts and thought I logged out of about everything. When the workshop ended, I realized there were some apps I missed logging out of and that if the user closed the current tabs, old ones opened up that still had my account info. This was not a comfortable thought. Instantly, I took another look then at some of these locking apps and realized how they could solve this issue.  This type of app could also work for using an iPad between multiple users. There are many out there but for price and simplicity, I like Secret Apps Lite for free.

First, it lets the user set either a 4-digit PIN or design lock and instantly sets up an email to send you your password so you can find it later in case you suddenly forget the lock you created. First glance shows that Secret App is very intuitive as it has a simple menu: Photos, Notes, Web Browser, Contacts, Settings and Help.

Second, comes in the teacher's ability to do classroom management tasks locked away from prying eyes of students who may discover sensitive info about their peers. Notes can be taken about student progress or behavior, IEP or parent meetings, anecdotal data and more but securely locked behind the passcode. Contacts can safely be stored away from students eyes too. Photos of work, tests, artifacts or other data collecting images that are not shared with students in the photos app.

Third, and I think, the biggest benefit comes in the locked browser. Teachers can stay logged in securely to any of their online tools now. Although you could go into the settings app on the iPad and turn off your mail during student use (if you know how to do this), its a bit inconvenient and not always remembered when quickly letting a student look something up. Many teachers have admitted they forget to log out in Safari from their Google Apps or other online account and frantically realize this as a student is browsing and stumbles onto it. With Secret Apps Lite, Webmail can now be left signed in. Grade books are now safe to use even if you forget to log out. Online IEP Tools, document or artifact storing cloud services like Google Drive, Evernote, Dropbox and others can be left set up but still locked away from other users of the iPad. Why? Because, the moment you switch to another app or close out of the app, it applies the lock...... even if you forget.

A nice additional piece is that many other apps can send files to this app if they have the "Open In" or "Open With" other apps feature. So I can download that report or other sensitive info that can only be pulled from a specific app but that I still may not want easily available for students and then send it to Secret Apps for safe keeping. It is able to store downloaded files from its browser. Now, I can use my Gmail, Drive, Evernote, Gradebook and other programs without having to log out the second I have someone else working on my iPad. This could also be a benefit to teachers sharing their iPad with other teachers, student teachers or long-term subs.

Recently, I had mentioned that I set up an iPad for use by teachers or students when I do training or class support so that I am not logged into any of the other apps (anymore) with any of my accounts and have started working completely out of Secret Apps on that iPad for anything of mine such as Gmail, Evernote or even this post that I wrote for Blogger in the web browser locked safely away in Secret Apps.

What ways can you see this app benefiting teachers using iPads in the classroom?

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