Locking Down Student iPads vs. Trusting Students to Behave

When our school began its 1-to-1 iPad program for our fifth through eighth grade students, we were faced with the same decision every school faces: just how much do we lock down these devices? We had already written up a solid acceptable use policy (that all students and parents had to sign), we had robust internet filtering at the school, we could monitor the iPads via Meraki, we had turned on age restrictions for all features, and we had collected the appropriate insurance money for repairs. But we still had to decide: what do we lock down on the device itself? Facetime? iMessage? The App Store?

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Snooping & Spying On Student iPads via DiskAid

I'm not a fan of reading personal data but when it comes to kids, parents can be very persuasive. I believe what I'm going to explain here should be the parents responsibility but because we are providing the iPads they seem to think its ours. Every once in a while a parent or student may report abuse via our device. This is how we try to see what's really going on via a third party software app called DiskAid.


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iOn iOff Daily enabling and disabling iMessage for students with Meraki MDM.

I have requested an automated way to do this from Meraki, like, every M-F between 8-3, disable iMessage but nothing yet. That would also introduce problems with holidays and summers. So, I have a reminder set to tell me to turn it on and off every weekday and using the Mercury Browser on my iPad a Bookmark Bar link to quickly get in and out. (Mercury is good at saving passwords).

Opening the right set of settings.

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Ideal iPad Settings for School Use


*PLEASE NOTE: The layout of the Settings menu is subject to change as Apple updates their iOS. This guide was written with iOS version 6.1.3, but should remain fairly accurate for the foreseeable future.*

There are several settings that students will want to change on their iPad in order to maximize their efficiency and minimize distractions in the classroom. For a full list of all the settings, what they do, and what students should change, look further down this document. But first, the short version:

Critical Student Settings

1) Notifications: Remove all apps from notification center (except maybe MAIL and CALENDAR)

2) General About: Name your iPad with whatever your teacher tells you to do (Usually Last name + Homeroom #).

3) General Auto-Lock: 15 MINUTES or NEVER (15 is good just to avoid an accidental sleep during a presentation & Never might be risky for a kid who might leave the screen on and get distracted, leaving them with a dead battery)

4) General Passcode Lock: ON (set passcode you can remember easily, ideally the same as their AppleID password and email password)

5) General Use Side Switch To: LOCK ROTATION (good for during a presentation)

6) General Keyboard Auto-correction: OFF (kids assume it’s always fixing everything and you’ll end up with some crazy words in the middle of a report.

7) Sounds Keyboard Clicks: OFF (can you imagine a classroom of clicks!)

8) Privacy Location Services: ON (But keep most apps OFF in the list, but specifically turn ON “Find my iPad at the bottom. DEFINITELY KEEP THE CAMERA APP TURNED OFF IN THIS LIST! You do NOT want the camera app putting hidden location data about your child into any photo they take.)

9) Privacy Photos: This will contain a list of all the apps that have requested permission to access your photos and videos. If you have an app that allows you to insert photos into documents or presentations or edit photos in any way, you need to ensure that the specified app is turned ON in this menu.

10) iCloud: Use your AppleID for the account (if not already entered). Then, turn ON all options except Mail.

11) Mail, Contacts, Calendars: This is where students can set up their email account by inputting their email address and email password. All other settings can remain as their defaults.

12) Safari Private Browsing: ON

Full Breakdown of Settings


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Notifications, Pop Ups & SOUNDS

When the teacher or students are presenting to the class via airplay mirroring to the projector, no one wants a message from mom to pop up…To ensure that your iPad does not display any unwanted pop-ups or play any “New Message” noises, you have to follow these steps:1) Go to “Settings”2) In the left menu, click “Notifications”

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