9 Essential Settings for the Teacher’s iPad

When using your iPad to teach, particularly in the one-iPad classroom, you can run into a few frustrations with the technology. In spite of all the exciting new features you bring to the classroom with the iPad, there are also some headaches that come along with it.

Here are some of the settings that our teachers have discovered and implemented to help to alleviate many of those frustrations.

1. Use Side Switch to Lock Rotation

Tap the Settings icon on your home screen and go to the General tab. You can configure the side switch to either “Lock Rotation” or “Mute.” It is recommended that you change the default from “Mute” to “Lock Rotation.” This way you can switch from portrait to landscape mode when you move from one app to another, but while in the app, you can quickly lock the orientation.

2. Turn on Multi-finger Gestures

With Multitasking Gestures (which use 4-5 fingers), you can quickly navigate your iPad. Using four or five fingers you can pinch to the Home Screen, swipe up to multitasking (as an alternative to double pressing the home button), and swipe left or right between apps.

You can turn on Multitasking Gestures in Settings under General:


3. Auto-Brightness

The brightness of your iPad screen will have the most significant effect on your battery life. If you max out the brightness on your screen, you can expect to use the device only a fraction of the time you would otherwise be able to with a lower setting. The Auto-Brightness setting will use sensors to match the current brightness setting as you move from different environments. For example, if you are in a dark room and have Auto-Brightness enabled at a certain level, then you move to a brighter room, the iPad will automatically adjust the brightness higher to match.

So, as a teacher, how should you set it? If you use the iPad in the same room all the time without much variation in ambient light, I would recommend turning off auto-brightness and adjusting the brightness to the lowest comfortable viewing level. However, if you regularly switch lights off for projector or have windows that affect the brightness of the room throughout the day, turn on auto-brightness and set it as low as it comfortable.

You can adjust this setting in the Settings under Wallpaper & Brightness:

You can also adjust the Brightness through the Control Center. If you swipe up from the bottom of your device, you can use the slider adjust brightness. Note that this will NOT disable auto-brightness if you have it turned on, but it will adjust the brightness level that the iPad will attempt to match in different locations.

4. Turn Off Background App Refresh

In IOS7, apps are given the ability to update their data in the background. However, you have control over which apps are able to do so in the Background App Refresh Setting. If you desire to extend your battery life throughout the day and to limit the amount of bandwidth your device is using while teaching, it is recommended that you disallow all in this setting.

You can find this option in Settings..General..Background App Refresh:

You may receive a warning when first disabling this setting. You can go ahead and click “Disable Background Ap…”

Note that if you do want only certain apps to be able to update their content in the background, you can select specific apps to do so. For example, an app called Dropbox could be allowed to sync your photos with a Dropbox folder after you take any new photos. If you have Background App Refresh turned off for an app, you actually have to be in the App (running it) for it to update content, either uploading or downloading from their service.

5. Turn On Do Not Disturb (during class)

Using the “Do Not Disturb” setting you can silence calls, messages, alerts, and notifications. You can turn on this setting, or schedule it for specific hours of the day, in the Settings area under Do Not Disturb:

You can also enable/disable Do Not Disturb in the Control Center (swipe up from the bottom of the screen)

6. Turn on Auto-Lock

When you press the power button or close a smart cover, the iPad will turn off the screen but not fully power down the device. You can also configure the device to automatically turn the screen off after a certain period of time of inactivity.

There is a sometimes difficult balance to strike between battery life and the inconvenience of having your device auto-lock in the middle of your presentation. If you only cared about battery life, you would have it auto-lock after 2 minutes, but if you never wanted the screen to black-out while presenting you would have it never auto-lock. The problem of having it never auto-lock is that if your device is stored in your bag and accidentally turns on, it won’t turn off again until the battery dies.

You may need to play with this setting to see what works best for you but I’ve found for my style of presenting in class, where I do stray from the device for more that 5-10 minutes at a time, I prefer the longest Auto-Lock setting short of never: 15 minutes.

You can configure this in the Settings under General and Auto-Lock:

It is also recommended that you have the Lock/Unlock reature enabled if you have a smart cover for your device.

7. Turn on the Passcode

Because it is common for teacher’s to set up their email and other possible secure accounts on their device, it is STRONGLY recommended that you turn on a passcode for your device. You can require the device to have a passcode entered each time it is turned on. However, it can be frustrating to have to enter it EVERY time, so I opt for requiring it after 1 hour not using the device.

You can set these settings under Passcode in the Settings app:

8. Privacy Settings

In the Settings area under Privacy, you can configure which apps have access to which of your secure accounts on the iPad. Additionally, you can configure which apps have access to your location through the GPS (if you have an iPad with a GPS chip):

9. Disable Automatic App Installations from Other Devices

If you use the same iTunes account on multiple devices, you may want to disable the feature that automatically downloads new apps to all your devices, especially if one of those devices is personal and the other is work-related.

To disable this feature go to Settings then “iTunes & App Store.”

Turn off the Automatic Downloads for those apps you do not want to synchronize across devices.

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