3 Essential iPad Hacks for Teachers

One of the biggest concerns teachers I know come across (myself included!) is worrying that students are not doing what they’re suppose to be doing when on their digital device! Let’s be honest – there’s a lot of temptation out there. You’ve asked them to research the ANZACs, but SnapChat and Instagram are right there next to the Safari app. What’s a kid to do?! 

While there are no 100% fool-proof strategies for retaining complete control over what children do on their devices, there are a few hacks that can go a long way to making teachers’ (and parents’) lives that little bit easier. These iPad hacks give you more control over what your students can and cannot access. 

3 Essential iPhone Hacks for Teachers:

#1 View app history

An oldie but a goodie! This simple feature lets you view all the active apps on an iPad – in the order they were last used. This is a great way to check whether your students have been hard at work on the task you’ve set them, or side-tracked by Snaps, tweets and clips.


  1. Double-click on the iPad’s Home button
  2. Thumbnails of all the active apps (apps that have been opened and not closed) will be displayed
  3. The first thumbnail you see is the app that was last open

So, as a teacher if you were to call up a student and view their app history you would be able to see whether the app they last had open was regarding the work you had set or something else entirely. Keep in mind though, that students may legitimately have SnapChat, Instagram and Minecraft open from the night before, but these shouldn’t be the last app used!

Note: swiping up on an app’s thumbnail will close the app and remove it from the app history list. Tech-savvy students will be aware of this trick, so keep that in mind!

#2 Restrictions

This is a wonderful feature for both teachers and parents alike. Restrictions allows you to lock certain functions on the iPad (they used to be called Parental Controls).


  1. Open Settings
  2. Select General 
  3. Select Restrictions
  4. Tap Enable Restrictions
  5. Enter a passcode
  6. Tap to disallow certain apps, app features, content or privacy settings

By enabling Restrictions you can prevent students from accessing inappropriate content or certain apps. For example, I have previously restricted access to Safari for students who continuously sneak onto YouTube!

Note: this feature would really only work if the iPads were school devices on loan to the students, as you need to have the authority to enable Restrictions. These restrictions would remain in place while at school and home.

#3 Guided Access

I only just came across Guided Access and can’t believe how good it is! Guided Access is a feature that locks the iPad onto a certain app (of your choosing). The student cannot get out of this app without inputting the passcode (which of course, only you know!)


  1. Open Settings
  2. Select General
  3. Select Accessibility
  4. Select Guided Access
  5. Tap to enable Guided Access
  6. Select Passcode Settings
  7. Select Set Guided Access Passcode
  8. Now, open up the app that you want the student to be working on
  9. Triple-click on the Home button
  10. Select Enable Guided Access
  11. When done, triple-click on the Home button
  12. Select End Guided Access
  13. The student will now be able to close the app and use the iPad normally

I’ve found this to be such a useful tool, and gives me the peace of mind that the student is only on the app that I’ve requested. Again, this can only work when I have the authority to set a Guided Access passcode on the iPad.

Well, there you have it! Just three ways that you can claim back a bit of control over student iPad use. These strategies won’t necessarily work for everyone, but I hope that at least a few of you will find them useful.

Don’t forget to share this post with others who you think would benefit from knowing these iPad hacks! 

The Tweeting Galah

About Kim Maslin

Kim is a passionate educator empowering others to feel confident using technology. She has spent the last 10 years teaching students aged 5 to 85! Kim is the author of The Tweeting Galah cybersafety series.

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