New School Year, New iPad Software: What iOS 9 Means for the Classroom

Monday, September 21, 2015 -- Scott Sterling

It’s nearly fall, which usually means another release of the operating system that powers iPhone and iPad devices—OS—which, in turn, powers many educators, students, and classrooms. This major update of the platform is more about refining some of the processes under the hood (performance and battery life are supposedly better) rather than adding a wealth of new features, but there are a few notable tweaks that can have a big impact in the classroom.

Multitasking on the iPad

The iPad will become much more functional for actual academic work with iOS 9, thanks to updates that vastly improve the tablet’s multitasking functionality.

With a feature called Slide Over, you can open a second app without leaving the one you’re in. Say that students are surfing the Web for research and want to jot down some notes. All they would have to do is call over the Notes app (more about that later) and see both apps side by side. Once they are done with Notes, they move it back out of the way.

Split View is split-screen multitasking where two apps take up equal halves of the screen, and you can work in either one without having to close the other. However, this will only be available for the iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 4 (other iPad models simply aren’t powerful enough to run two apps at the same time).

The new-and-improved Notes app

The native Notes app in iOS has always been on the basic side, which has led to competition from other third-party apps like Evernote. Apple took this opportunity to infuse new and in-demand functionality into one of its original iOS apps.

You can now add a photo, hyperlink, or a map to any note using the Share button found in most apps. Students can even sketch ideas freehand and include them in a note. The app also now includes the ability to create checklists, which are great for keeping small groups on the same page (since notes themselves can be shared).

More device security

Device security is always a concern in classrooms. Students who don’t use passcodes or those who share passcodes with their friends can be a big source of stress for teachers. iOS 9 strengthens security by introducing six-character passcodes as default. With the option of two-factor authentication, if an Apple ID is signed in on another device, the first device can confirm it with a verification code. Learn more about these options, and you can stop the iPad hacking worries and complaints before they start.

Settings search functionality

The Settings app has become huge and hard to manage by itself, so with iOS 9, Apple has included a search field inside of it. For example, just type in “Wi-Fi,” and you get a list of all the settings that have to do with Wi-Fi connectivity. It may seem inconsequential, but any administrator will tell you that this will be a huge timesaver.

You already have the iPad tablets, but how about the apps? Check out Edmentum’s compilation of 10 FREE Digital Resources for Educators to learn about the latest and greatest no-cost tools to incorporate into your mobile program!


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A Balanced Approach for Elementary Success Using Exact Path, Study Island, and Reading Eggs
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