Last Friday at school, one of the middle school students came by my room in a panic. She had left her iPad at home, but needed a Keynote presentation on the iPad for a group project that was due that day. She was afraid of letting down her groupmates and hurting their grades.
Thankfully, we were able to remotely access the file and transfer it to a friend's iPad using iCloud's web interface.
First, the iPad will need iCloud backup turned on. Then, you will need to double check that Keynote, Pages, and/or Numbers are set to individually back up to iCloud in Settings. This should be part of the standard first day set-up for all students when they receive their iPads.
Assuming that everything is set correctly, students can now use iCloud.com to access any of their Pages, Keynote, or Numbers documents. Once you log in, the web menu looks like this:
When the girl forgot her iPad, we signed her in from a PC, clicked on Keynote, and it loaded a list of all her documents. The amazing thing about this web interface is that you can actually edit your documents or create new ones. It is very similar to Google Docs. It is still in beta, however, so a lot of the features are buggy or nonexistant.
You can also check out your contacts, reminders, calendar, and notes on iCloud.com, but the only other really important thing is the Find my iPhone feature. Once again, make sure students have “Find My iPad” turned on in the iCloud settings on the device. If their iPad is misplaced, they can log in to their AppleID at iCloud.com, click “Find my iPhone”, and give remote instructions to the iPad.
They can see the iPad's location on a map and then lock it, erase it, or cause it to beep repeatedly to help them find it in their house or school. In order for this to work, the settings must be turned on, the iPad must have power, and the iPad must be connected to WiFi. That's a lot of conditions, but it has saved many of our students from losing their devices. In our first year and a half of iPad implementation, we have not permanently lost a single iPad.
But remember: always ensure that students' devices have these settings turned on to take advantage of these features. Inconsistency or carelessness when distributing devices (especially to new students who join later in the school year) can cause all sorts of headaches.