This post is meant as a warning to IT directors and school administrators in schools with 1-to-1 iPad implementation (especially if the students can take their iPads home).
There is some Chinese software going around call Tongbu which can allow iPad owners to bypass the built-in app store to acquire apps. Not only is this illegal and unethical, but it also opens up a huge security hole for any school trying to monitor the apps on their students’ iPads. These illegal installs do not require a jailbroken iPad and can occur on supposedly secure school iPads.
You can see a walkthrough of the process here. Now, obviously, I am not posting this in order to encourage theft. Stealing apps is illegal and incredibly insulting to the (mostly) small development teams that work so hard to create many of these apps. However, if you are going to patch up this security flaw at your school, you need to know how the flaw works.
We just did a post on iPad filtering, so refer to it for an in-depth walkthrough of different filtering options. But basically be sure to do the following steps:
- Be sure your students’ iPads are being supervised by Configurator.
- Be sure that Configurator and Meraki are set to NOT allow iPads to be connected to other computers.
- Do a Google search for “Tongbu” and add every website on the first page of results to your internet filtering at your school (and, if possible, add “*tongbu*” as a blocked term altogether). Also, block the URL to that Youtube video I posted above.
- Add these same blocked URLs and *tongbu* to your Weblock proxy attached to all the students’ iPads so this stuff is blocked outside of school as well.
- And of course, enforce strict and severe disciplinary repercussions if you find any students that have still managed to work around all these security settings to install apps they shouldn’t have.
There are other services that offer this same feature. Do some research, hunt them down, and block them all!
If your school allows students to utilize their personal AppleIDs with your school-issued iPads, you might want to be aware of a new security feature in iOS 7 that will really mess with your end-of-the-year collection efforts.
Basically, when you attempt to reset an iPad to the default factory settings in iOS 7 (which you might do after collecting up all student iPads for the summer), the iPad will ask you for the AppleID and password of the previous user. If that previous user was a student using their own AppleID and not a school account or generic account, you will need their password to wipe the iPad. If you don’t have it, the iPad basically becomes a useless brick.
This was designed to prevent thieves from resetting a stolen iPad, but for schools it ends up being a huge hassle. As we began collecting the student iPads this past week, we had to modify our process to accomodate this extra step. If your students use their own ID’s, do not let them just throw their iPads in a pile and walk away! It is really hard to figure out which iPad belongs to which student because the iPad will only give you the first letter of the email address for the AppleID when trying to enter the info after a reset. If you have 300 students like we do, good luck figuring out which student with an email address that starts with “k” is the one who needs to enter their info to complete the reset.
To avoid this problem, make the student stand with a teacher and walk through the whole reset process. We have created a visual PDF guide for your teachers that your can access HERE. During the reset, you will need access to the iPad’s lock screen passcode (if there is one), the parent’s or school’s restrictions passcode (if there is one), and the student’s AppleID and password (if it asks for them). Once all the steps in the guide have been followed and you are back to the default home screen, the student’s info is no longer needed.
One last tip: make sure you read which passcode/password it is asking for. There is nothing more frustrating than typing in the school’s restriction code when it actually wants to lock screen code and then getting locked out of the reset process for 60 minutes. If nobody remembers the restriction code (and parents often forget if they set it up 9 months ago), you will need to reset it by manually connecting the iPad to a computer. But you will still need the kid’s ID and password via this method.
As documented elsewhere on this site (when discussing the first few years of implementation and iPad insurance), iPads break a lot. When you have 300+ devices being handled by hundreds of kids, it is inevitable. When we first passed out the iPads, the first one broke in under an hour. It just happens.
I am not sure if this has ever been posted on the site, but last year I contacted all the teachers in my school and asked them to supply me with a list of apps they have on their iPads or have used in the classroom. I received dozens of replies listing hundreds of apps. I then went through the responses and put together a massive 29 page list of all the apps organized by grade level and subject level. I even typed up little descriptions of the apps to go along with them.
This document is incredibly useful as a starting point for schools planning on giving iPads to their teachers or their students. One of the biggest hurdles for inexperienced teachers is feeling overwhelmed with the devices and trying to find useful apps for their classroom. This list can help your hesitant teachers find some starter apps that they can experiment with. This will give them the confidence to hunt down more apps that they can use.
Some disclaimers: the list is from 2013, so it is already outdated, but most of the information is still relevant. Furthermore, not all the apps listed are great apps. Some of them won’t be useful to your teachers or your students. The point of this document is not to give you the best apps in the world, but to give you a bunch of starter ideas to share with your teachers.
Anyway, you can find the massive iPad app list right HERE. Feel free to share with your teachers or other schools, and feel free to leave feedback in the comments.
SchooliPads.com has been lacking updates recently, but long time readers will recall that the same thing happened last year as we approached the end of school. Things get too crazy and new iPad lesson ideas tend to dry up as the year concludes. We will get some more content posted as soon as possible including some summer updates. Things will then kick into high gear right around late July or early August in preparation for a new year and a new round of professional development and lesson planning. Stick around!
Microsoft has just recently released iPad apps for Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote. These aren't just sloppy ports of the Windows programs, either. These apps were designed from the ground-up to work efficiently on the iPad and with touch controls. I was able to download them and check them out, and here are my impressions.