Nestled between all of the other headlining releases yesterday was Classroom 2.0 for the iPad. The original Classroom app featured an MDM (Mobile Device Management) prerequisite, which made it more suitable for larger organizations with a dedicated IT department. With Classroom 2.0, teachers can invite students to a class manually, as long as their iPad is running iOS 10.3. Watch our hands-on video inside to see some of the features made possible by the updated Classroom app.
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The biggest feature brought to the table by Classroom 2.0 is manual invites. If the teacher is running iOS 10.3, they can download the updated Classroom app and begin inviting nearby students. Students on the same Wi-Fi network that have Bluetooth enabled will be able to join a Class by visiting the Settings app, where they will find a Classroom panel that appears below Bluetooth Settings. This Settings panel is range-based like AirDrop, and it will appear or disappear based on the student’s vicinity to the teacher’s iPad.
As you’ll see in the video walkthrough below, the teacher will also have to provide a 4-digit code for students to successfully join a class. Once that code is entered, and the teacher approves the student, they can begin using the Classroom features. It should be noted that students do not need to have the Classroom app installed to use these features, as all of the necessary hooks are already built natively into iOS. In other words, at least for the time being, the Classroom app itself is primarily geared towards faculty.
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Apple highlights four major new additions to the Classroom app in its App Store change log. These changes are as follows:
- Create classes within Classroom and invite nearby students to join
- Share documents and links to student devices via AirDrop (replaces Classroom Share Extension)
- Students can share documents and links with their teacher via AirDrop
- Mute audio on student devices
Teachers can view students screens to help with work
Obviously the big take away is the ability for teachers to manually create classes and invite nearby students, but the Classroom app itself contains several more interesting features that might prove be useful in a classroom setting. With the app, teachers can:
- Remote control a device, including launching apps, websites, and iBooks on one or more iPads simultaneously
- Glance at any screen with just a tap using the Screen View feature
- Project student work on a local Apple TV
What teachers see when managing a classroom
Teachers can also lock student iPad screens, and add specific students to teacher-created groups. It should be noted that students can choose to leave a class via the Settings app, along with the ability to change teacher permissions. For example, students can choose to Always, Ask, or Never allow a teacher device to lock apps and the device, or to use AirPlay or Screen View features.
The Classroom Settings panel appears when in the vicinity of an iPad running Classroom
Although our video demo walks through many of the features found in the Classroom app with an individual student scenario, the real power of this app stems from its ability to interact and control multiple student devices simultaneously. For instance, launching the same iPad text book on all devices, or directing all devices to an online syllabus. For these teaching situations, I imagine Classroom 2.0 will be very useful, and now smaller organizations can join the fun without the MDM requirement. You can download the Classroom app for free via the App Store. Remember that the app requires an iPad running iOS 10.3.
What do you think about the Classroom app? When coupled with the cheaper iPad, do you think it will prove to be a valuable resource for schools? Sound off in the comments below with your thoughts.