1. Automatic Downloads
Why? This feature allows you to simultaneously sync the purchase of apps (free or paid) if you have more than one iPad, iPad mini or iPod Touch attached to the same iTunes account. Downloading an app to one device will automatically initiate the download to other similar devices attached to the iTunes account. This is a huge timesaver and saves you from having to repeat the install process across several devices.
How? Navigate over to Settings and then scroll down the list of items along the left hand side of your screen and select iTunes & App Stores. It will reveal a number of settings on right side of your screen including iTunes Match and Automatic Downloads. Under Automatic Downloads, you can choose to automatically download Books and Music as well as Apps. Make your selections and you are done. You may be asked to re-enter your iTunes account login and password as a final step. Keep in mind that you will need to do this for each device that is currently attached to your iTunes account.
2. Back up to iCloud
Why? You have the choice to back up your iOS device to iCloud or to your PC through iTunes. By default every iCloud subscriber is entitled to 5GB of free storage with the option to purchase more storage for an annual fee. Backing up to the cloud allows you to restore or set up an iOS device wirelessly and without the need to connect it to a PC installed with iTunes. This could be a big timesaver for a classroom teacher looking to restore an iOS device on the spot providing they have connectivity to the internet. Keep in mind that teachers and schools under the Volume Purchase Program will make use of a different process to restore their iOS devices.
How? In Settings select iCloud from the navigation menu. If you have not already activated iCloud on your device you will be prompted to do so at this stage. Scroll down to the bottom of this screen and find the Storage & Backup button. On the following screen, turn ON iCloud Backup. Navigating back to your previous screen, you can now select the features and files you would like to sync and backup. By default backup will occur when your iOS device is connected to your AC charger while also connected to the internet.
Why? Speaking to the device and having your speech converted to text can be extremely helpful when the use of the virtual keyboard is too cumbersome or time consuming. Dictation is also an empowering tool for students who may be more adept at demonstrating their learning through speech and dialogue. The practice of dictation may also prove to be a powerful exercise in recognizing grammatical structure, voice and proper punctuation. The process of converting voice to text is fairly quick and the need to see if the Dictation feature “got it right” encourages the discipline of proof reading written work.
How? When you call up your virtual keyboard you will notice a microphone icon located to the left of the space bar. Tapping once on this icon will call up the microphone where you will then be prompted with a beep to begin your dictation. After you have finished your dictation, select the Done button and your text should appear on your screen. As this feature is connected to your virtual keyboard it essentially allows you to access this tool across all of your iOS applications.
If you do not the see the microphone icon on your keyboard in iOS 6 be sure to check that Siri is set to ON and if your Restrictions are enabled, review them in your Settings menu and ensure that Siri is set to ON. (Within Settings access the General menu, find and select the Restrictions tab and ensure that Siri is not being restricted) For those using iOS 5, you can turn on/off dictation under the General menu where you select the Keyboard tab and look for the Dictation option.
4. Guided Access
Why? Guided Access allows teachers to lock the home button of their iOS device as well as disable areas of the touchscreen. For young children and students with special needs, Guided Access can be a very useful feature for iOS 6 devices. However this utility can prove to be useful for all students in all classrooms depending on your use and purpose for the iPad, iPad mini, iPod Touch, etc. in your classroom. For example, you can now lock an iPad to a particular application when assigning iPads to specific learning stations. Guided Access can help prevent students from navigating away from a particular resource or task that they are to specifically access or complete.
How? Using Guided Access is a two step process that begins with activating the feature in Settings under the General menu. Once in the General menu, find and select the Accessibility tab. Under the Learning subheading, you will find the option to turn ON Guided Access. Upon activating this feature you will be asked to set a Passcode that you will be prompted to enter each time you begin and end Guided Access. After setting your passcode simply exit out of the Settings menu as you have now completed the first step.
The second step involves initiating Guided Access which takes place when you are in the app of your choice. Initiating this feature involves tapping the home button three times. This will call up the Guided Access control panel and allow you to identify areas of the touch screen that you wish to disable simply by circling those areas with your finger. You also have the option of disabling the screen rotation feature as well. Once you are satisfied with your settings simply select the Start button at the top right-hand corner of the screen to begin the Guided Access viewing mode. Stopping this viewing mode involves tapping the home button again three times. You will be prompted to enter in the four digit passcode in order to view the Guided Access control panel where you can then choose to End the Guided Access viewing mode.
5. Multitasking Gestures
Why? Multitasking Gestures is a carryover from iOS 5 but it bears repeating again for anyone who is not familiar with this feature. Simply put, Multitasking Gestures is the movement away from the physical home button through the use of 2, 3 or four finger gestures on the touchscreen. Although it may seem arbitrary at first, Multitasking Gestures provides an easy and efficient way of navigating between applications. For students and teachers, the ability to quickly switch between two or three applications helps to best make use of the multitasking abilities of the iOS device. For example quickly switching between a web browser and a word processor with the use of a four finger swipe to the left or right is a faster alternative to the two taps of the home button in order to reveal previously viewed apps at the bottom of the screen.
How? By default, Multitasking Gestures should be turned ON, however if you need to activate them you can turn on this feature by accessing Settings menu and then selecting the General tab where you find the option to turn ON/OFF Multitasking Gestures.