The Top 10 Things Every iPad Teacher Should Know About iPads & iOS 7!

Are you new to iPads in the classroom? Are you are looking for some tips to help navigate the new iOS 7? Then this is the post for you! Today we take a look at the Top 10 Things Every iPad Teacher Should Know, so that you have the knowledge and confidence you need to shine in front of your students.

This post is a collaborative piece that was created with the help of Steve Lai, a talented iPad teacher from Canada. You can find Steve on Twitter as @sly111 and read his blog at

1. How to Multitask and Kill Apps that Misbehave! (by @jonathanwylie)

In iOS 7, multitasking is easier and more powerful than ever. To start, simply double tap the home button, or place four fingers on the screen and push up. This will reveal Apple’s  slick, new multitasking menu. To switch to a new app, simply scroll sideways until you see the one you want. Then tap on the app to go straight to it.

You can also close apps from the multitasking menu. To kill an app that is misbehaving, scroll sideways through the apps until you find the errant app, and swipe upwards with one finger. If you are feeling dextrous, try swiping two or even three apps at once!

Multitasking in iOS 7

2. How to take Screenshots (by @sly111)

Screenshots are incredibly useful for educators wishing to share their iPad screens. We have used this great feature multiple times on this post. You can take a screenshot of ANYTHING that is on your iPad: a website, app, existing photo, etc. Taking a screenshot (a still image of the screen) is quite easy. iOS devices only have two physical buttons (the home and the power buttons). Press and hold both at the same time and you will see your device “blink” and, if it’s not on silent mode, make a camera clicking sound. Your new photo will now be placed in your Camera Roll, where you can send or share it in multiple ways to your students/parents/colleagues etc. Check out some uses of screenshots in this post.

3. How to Enable Speak Selection (by @jonathanwylie)

Did you know your iPad can read text aloud for you? This can be a great support for struggling readers or teachers that work in a special education classroom. To turn on Speak Selection, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Speak Selection and flip the switch to turn it green. Next, adjust the speaking rate to your preferred speed, and choose whether you want the iPad to highlight words while it reads them, (usually the best choice for teachers).

Speak Selection in iOS 7

To make the iPad read text aloud, you have to select the text you want it to read. This could be in Safari, Notes, iBooks or a number of other apps. Select text by pressing and holding on the first word you want read. Once you see the magnifying glass, let go. Pull the blue bars on either side of the word to select the amount of text you want read, then tap Speak in the black pop-up menu above your selected text.

4. How to use Guided Access (by @jonathanwylie)

Guided Access is great for younger students, special education classrooms, or even when using the iPad at home with your own kids! It locks students on an app of your choice, and will not let them out of it. Turn it on by going to Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access and flipping the switch to turn it green. Next, choose a passcode, and remember it!

To initiate Guided Access, open the app you want and triple click your home button. Check the settings along the bottom of your screen are the ones you want, then tap Start in the top right hand corner. If students press the home button, the power button, or swipe with multitasking gestures, none of those actions will have any effect.

Guided Access in iOS 7

To exit Guided Access, triple click the home button and enter the passcode you set earlier. Then tap End in the top left hand corner of the screen. Forgot the passcode? Press and hold the power and the home button at the same time, and keep them held down until your screen goes black and the Apple logo appears. This restarts your iPad and kicks you out of Guided Access. Just don’t tell your students!

5. How to Set Up Automatic Downloads for App Updates (by @sly111)

An important new feature that will impress most users is Automatic Downloads. With this setting on, people will always have the latest updates for all their apps. I myself (Steve) would rather update them one at a time, in case a good feature is removed, and so I can see exactly what the new features are. However, most people will probably prefer the convenience.

Go to Settings > iTunes & App Store then find Updates in Automatic Downloads. Toggle it to ON (The green will show)

auto app updates in iOS 7
6. How to AirPlay (by @jonathanwylie)

Got an Apple TV in the classroom? Are you running Reflector or AirServer on your Mac or PC? If so, you can wirelessly project your iPad to an LCD projector or HDTV. Just make sure that your iPad and the AirPlay device (Apple TV or your computer) are on the same Wi-Fi network.

Next, swipe up from the bezel on the bottom edge of your iPad to reveal the new Control Centre. Tap AirPlay, and choose the device you want to AirPlay to (either your Apple TV or your computer). Then, turn on Mirroring to send your iPad to the big screen!

AirPlay in iOS 7

For more help setting up AirPlay on your iPad or Mac, please read An Educator’s Guide to AirPlay in the Classroom.

7. How to use AirDrop (by @sly111)

AirDrop is a brand new file transfer system within iOS 7. It is a seamless and very quick way to transfer files via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections between “nearby” devices. However, it only works with the iPad Mini, fourth generation iPads, an iPhone 5 or later, or a fifth generation iPod Touch.

To send a file via AirDrop, both devices must have iOS 7, and have both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on. If the sender info is not within the recipient’s contact list, “Everyone” has to be selected. This just requires a simple tap from the new Control Center. As soon as a file is successfully shared, it will open, and also be imported into the recipient’s Camera Roll. Make sure both sender and recipient have AirDrop turned on. Students can then “find” the teacher iPad and choose anything within the Camera Roll to send him/her.

airdrop for iOS 7

Sharing via AirDrop is also available in Safari, iTunes and the App Store, with more apps due to support this feature in the coming months. In my initial testing of AirDrop, photos were shared instantly, while videos just took a few seconds longer, depending on their length. This will become a much better way to transfer iOS files from one device to another, and again takes away the need to email the files or upload to a cloud-based solution like Dropbox.

8. How to Search Your iPad (by @jonathanwylie)

In iOS 7, searching your iPad has never been easier. So, the next time you lose an app, simply swipe downwards with one finger on any of the home screens on your iPad. This reveals a search bar at the top of your screen. Type in the name of the app you are looking for and tap Search on the keyboard.

Want to look for more than just apps? Go to Settings > General > Spotlight Search, and put check marks next to the items you want to appear in a search. You can search Mail, Notes, Reminders and more.

Searching in iOS 7

9. How to make the text in iOS 7 more readable (by @sly111)

The new font in iOS 7 is very thin. It is a common complaint from people who say that they are having trouble reading the new Helvetica Neue Ultra Light font. There is a way to make the entire text bold.

To enable this, go to Settings > General > Accessibility and then switch to “Bold text”. You will get a warning: “Applying this setting will restart your iPad/iPhone”. Restarting will only takes a few seconds. Your text will now appear much more readable.

text readability in iOS 7

10. How to delete individual iMessages & Texts in the Messages app (by @sly111)

Sometimes you want to delete certain messages (as opposed to deleting entire conversation threads). In iOS 6, there was an Edit button. The delete feature is now hidden, but not gone. Tap and hold any message in the thread, then choose “More…” You will be able to choose multiple messages to delete (or forward). You will be prompted with a confirmation. Hopefully obvious, but this does not delete the delivery of the message (the recipient will still get it).  You are just deleting it in the thread, so that anyone with your device won’t be able to see it.

Deleting Messages iOS 7

Have you updated to iOS 7 yet? Have you found any new features that you can use in your classroom? Feel free to share them in the comments below. And if you liked Steve’s tips, be sure to check out his blog or follow him on Twitter.

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