Phones During Assessments?! WHAT?!

One of my students figured out a way to securely use their phones during assessments – and I just had to share!  🙂

It use to be that I couldn’t allow students to have their phones out because they could use it for communicating between each other, taking pictures, or just plain googling things.  ALL THAT HAS CHANGED!  It’s now possible to restrict how students use their phone through a “Guided Access” or “Screen Pinning” feature on iPhones and for Android. WOO HOO!!!!  It’s EXCITING!!!

Students really don’t need to buy a graphing calculator these days… they’re expensive, easy to leave at home or on a table somewhere, and have a way steeper learning curve then just using an intuitive app like Desmos.  (I have NEVER seen a student walk off without their cell phone – that’s pretty much like walking out without a limb…)

My husband is an Iphone user, and I’m an Android user, so I have successfully tested and tried this “lock down of features” trick on 2 operating systems.  Here’s how:

iPhones, iPads, and iPods – Guided Access

The feature is called “guided access” and a detailed description of how to do it can be found on Apple Support by following this link.  To use this with students, you have to have them allow you to set the passcode for “Guided Access” on their phone, and then watch them get into the app you would like to restrict them to.  When they’re done, you can enter your secret code and they’ll have access to all of the phone’s features.

The one note I would add to this is to have the student turn off “Guided Access” in the settings… I would hate to have a student turn it on by accident and then not be able to access their phone until we saw each other again!  I’ve never had this happen, but it sure is better safe than to be sorry!

I filmed my student showing me how to do it though (if you want the silent play-by-play… 🙂 )

She also showed me that you can use guided access to block out a portion of the screen you don’t want them to access.  Super cool!

Android Phones – Screen Pinning

This is a little less slick than the Apple version, but still do-able and great!  Android phones have some great app options like Desmos and the Graphing Calculator Emulator App that’s out there.

Step 1)  Students have to allow you to change their security code, or to set a passcode.  This can be done by going to the security settings on their phone.  (A 2 finger swipe down from the main screen, and then clicking on the Settings Gear icon will quickly get you to settings window.)  To get to the Passcode window, click on Settings –> Security –> Screen Lock –> PIN.

Step 2)  Enable Screen Pinning.  There are many tutorials online.  Here’s one that I found handy!  Be sure to turn the “Require password” setting on when turning on Screen Pinning!

Step 3)  After disabling Screen Pinning, be sure to have the student set their password back (or to disable a password if they didn’t have one in the first place).  Again, to get to the Passcode window, click on Settings –> Security –> Screen Lock –> and have the student select either “None” or whichever screen lock they choose.

A final note:

There are a few down sides to this process.  First off, it takes a little organization and a few minutes to set-up and put away at the end of a task, so you’ll need to budget in some extra time for that.  Secondly, it does involve a little bit of trust that you are going to restore the student’s phone back to its original condition (with no weird passwords or locks on it).  I would make sure to be really aware and cautious of both of these issues, and make sure that students know what is happening to their phone when you’re setting this up.  (Also – just do it in front of them or even have THEM press all the buttons (except the password) so that they know exactly what was happening.)

Overall, I think this is a fantastic way to incorporate technology that some (most?) students already have!  If you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to comment below!


About Mrs. Awadalla

I am a classroom teacher in Richmond, British Columbia. Interested in Math Education, Technology, Assessment, and Standards Based Grading (just to name a few things)... :)
This entry was posted in All, Strategies, Teaching Issues, Technology, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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