I have a new stress-reducing trick for managing Android tablets: AppLock! This ingenious app is minimal, fast to set up, and effective! It lets you lock specific apps so that they can’t be used without a password, thus ensuring students won’t uninstall or download apps OR cause any mischief in the Settings menus.
Update on Nexus Tablets & Why I Needed AppLock
Students have been using the Nexus tablets pretty much “out of the box” for catalog searching, reading/listening to interactive ebooks, on-demand research…It’s all been great! Though I’ve downloaded a couple apps, I haven’t done any major customizing. Thankfully, students have mostly left the settings and home screen configuration alone. A few intrepid students, however, have figured out how to re-arrange the home screen, add widgets, change the sound settings, and search the Google Play Store. Not the end of the world, but a hassle to fix. I was particularly impressed with the student who wanted to check out “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck” when all copies were already out. He proceeded to find the ebook on Google Books (the preview I think) to read online. Nothing stops these kids when they *really* want something. 🙂
Still, after I had to re-do a homescreen following the above “makeovers,” I decided to look into some kind of parental control app that could prevent students from accessing the tablet settings and other apps that are not for student use. 10 minutes of research later, I found that I could set up a new profile with it’s own apps. (Note: That only works on tablets with Jelly Bean Android operating systems or higher.) Doing that would require reconstructing my home screens on each tablet…again. Nope, not going to happen.
So I went with an app, and found AppLock. Installing was FAST, and the download is small. Just type in a code, add an e-mail, and you are set to start locking or unlocking apps. The apps are still visible (unless you disable them), but when opened, the user is prompted for a password or pattern. It’s not foolproof, of course, but nothing is. My favorite part was that in 15 minutes, I had all 12 of the tablets set up with the Play Store, Settings, Google Settings, Meraki Systems Manager, People, and Calendar apps locked down.
It’s so beautiful when technology works effectively and simply!