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One approach to setting up the iPad for shared use among multiple users

by Kelly Walsh on June 3, 2012

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The iPad is inherently an individualized device – ‘Our Pad’ makes it easier to work around that.

A growing number of faculty and staff members at The College of Westchester have been using iPads and we’re always learning more about their functionality and potential uses. One idea that comes up from time to time is the possibility of using them in multi-user situations. Perhaps we could have iPads available to loan for use within the Library, or maybe a few people in a department or work group might want to share the use of one?

A significant challenge with this would appear to be the individualized nature of the devices – the “i” in iPad could easily stand for “individual” since the device is highly personalized. For example, if you set up an email account using the iPad’s built in email app, when you give that device to someone else they will have access to that email account (and not to their own – at least, not through the app). This is clearly a problem if your users would want to access personalized resources, like email or many social networking tools. There also isn’t any “log on” process naturally incorporated into the device, where you can use it to let different users log on to a network to access resources.

The “Our Pad” App for the iPad

Our Pad iPad app for sharing user accounts

After searching the web for potential solutions to this challenge, I found one app that is designed to help meet this need – an inexpensive ($2.99) app called “Our Pad”, available here in the iTunes store.

What the Our Pad App Does
The basic idea behind Our Pad is that it stores user names and passwords for a couple dozen pre-configured web apps (and you can add your own) for multiple users. Each user sets up a simple security ‘pattern’ and uses it to sign in to the Our Pad app (although this is a concern and potential shortcoming – this security approach is too simplistic, unless it can be expanded on, it is possible for another user to figure out another user’s pass code). When you are signed in as the current user on that iPad, your configured apps are available through a little slide up menu (shown in the screen shot above).

An important thing to understand is that this is really only providing access to the mobile web versions of these applications – not their actual iPad apps. For example, in the background on the screen shot above we see the mobile Gmail interface, not the iPad Mail app – this is what Our Pad provides access to if you configure it for use with Gmail. The fact is, you can already let a user access any web app and sign into it on an iPad, Our Pad just makes it a lot more convenient.

Our Pad looks like a great solution for when a known group of users wishes to share an iPad on a regular basis and they are willing to use web apps in place of iPad apps to access personalized tools like Gmail, Facebook, and many others. In situations in which random users want to use an iPad to access these types of apps, it may also be useful, but each time a new user wants to use it they are going to have be set up (app set up is quick and easy to do for one app, more apps just take a little more time).

This still does not address the potential need to share personalized iPad apps – this simply may not be possible (perhaps a future release of iOS will address this), but what the Our Pad app provides for just $2.99 is excellent functionality for sharing access to personalized web based applications via the iPad, but the security may be a too weak for some to be comfortable.

Are you sharing iPads? How’s it working out? What works well and what doesn’t? Do you have any tips or apps that you use to help address some of these challenges? We’d love to hear from you!

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):

15 Favorite iPad Apps As Selected By Teachers
Apple TV In The Classroom – The New Smart Board
Using The iPad As A Digital Whiteboard (Plus 4 Cool Free Apps To Try It Out)

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer, and an adjunct faculty member, at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

emely September 15, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Thank you for your sharing. Looking forward to your more articles.

cloris1212 September 12, 2013 at 4:13 am

Merci beaucoup, je voudrais d’apprendre à mieux.

aberly365 May 20, 2013 at 1:37 am

Hi! Working with iPads is wonderful, I’m using Nearpod, has anyone heard about it?? You should definitely try it, it’s on the app store for free I’ve tried it and obtained amazing results.

brendapopular April 22, 2013 at 2:16 am

Clayn is right of course, the store app and content purchase functionality is at the core of the individualization of the devices, presumably by design. Cloud apps can work fine through a shared access device, but not downloaded digital purchases like music, books, apps, etc., in the present model these devices use.

Michelle September 25, 2012 at 9:36 am

Janet, how is your system doing lately? Your idea sounds awesome.

I’ve never been an Apple person, but we are planning to start using iPads at work for paperwork and service and sales presentations. We were thinking of doing a program where the techs and reps could buy the iPads from the company. So I am starting to look at ways to keep the company use and personal use of the iPad separate, maybe with mutliple accounts. However, there are some things we’d like to share between iPads for company use. For example, we take pictures of all the equipment we’ve installed. We currently all use digital cameras and upload them to one Google Picasa account. But with Apple, and the cloud syncing features, I wonder if all the business pictures from our 12 iPads can upload together (while remaining separate from the personal accounts’ pictures).

Melanie W. June 13, 2012 at 11:58 am

Hi! Working with iPads is wonderful, I’m using Nearpod, has anyone heard about it?? You should definitely try it, it’s on the app store for free :) I’ve tried it and obtained amazing results. leave you the link: http://www.nearpod.com

Janet June 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm

We are preparing a 1:1 deployment to be used in Math classes in September. We are trying to get out all the bugs now, at the end of this school year. We purchased 42 iPads, with 2 MacBook pro laptops and 2 charging carts (both 30 -device carts). We then downloaded something called Apple Configurator. With this handy little app, we can configure the devices vis-a-vis the class lists of individual teachers, assigning one laptop to multiple students. When the teacher starts the class, she goes into her class list from the MacBook, and each iPad is then configured to a kid in the class. Let’s say James’ iPad is in slot 5. He grabs his iPad, opens it up, his name is there on the Home Screen. He can configure it anyway he wants to personalize (something the kids absolutely LOVE LOVE to do with any of their devices, right?). Then he can do whatever is happening in that class. At the end of the period, he logs out, puts the iPad back in the slot. Next period, Susie comes along, the iPads have been configured for her class, and she uses the same iPad in slot 5, but it’s got her personalized data on it. Like I said we are working the bugs out now …but this is what we’re doing.

K. Walsh June 4, 2012 at 6:58 am

Clayn is right of course, the store app and content purchase functionality is at the core of the individualization of the devices, presumably by design. Cloud apps can work fine through a shared access device, but not downloaded digital purchases like music, books, apps, etc., in the present model these devices use.

Clayn June 3, 2012 at 9:04 am

The most fundamental issue here isn’t necessarily logging in (though that is a HUGE issue.) It’s the method that these kinds of devices (iOS and Android) use to access and install new apps – the Store or Google Play. In order to “order” new apps, you have to log into an account, which then becomes the sole user for the device. For example, my iPhone is linked to my iTunes account; if my son wants to use my phone and install a new game on it, he has to use my account. I am not necessarily against this (I think of all the games that have freemium games that can rack up $1000s in in-game purchases….;), but when you think about sharing a device like this, someone has to either create a new online identity to manage the iTunes/Google Play account, or someone is opening themselves to a serious level of possible liability.

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