How to avoid distraction from the iPad during class

Yann Houry
5 min readJan 13, 2021


Do you find students getting easily distracted during class because of the iPad? Do you think they spend too much time checking their email and that it takes too long to get back to the task? Of course, as they need their iPad, they can’t simply turn it off. But some very simple things can be done so students stay focused.

Mute all sounds on the iPad or turn off notifications will eliminate a lot of distractions. On top of that, we have to make sure students come with a fully charged iPad at the beginning of the day. But, if they need to charge it during the day, they will need a power bank. By doing so, no student has to interrupt their work to find an outlet nor find themselves with an empty battery, giving them no choice but to stop working.

So, mute the iPad, turn off notifications, bring a fully charged device and a power bank. That will help. Here’s how.

Turn off sound

Why muting the iPad? Well, that’s pretty self-explanatory. In my class, I don’t want twenty or thirty iPads to make a noise every time students get a notification (it can be a new email from another teacher or a Google Classroom notification when a new assignment has been posted).

To do that, the easiest solution is to toggle on Silent mode by swiping down from the top right corner to access the Control Center. Then tap on the bell icon to mute the iPad.

No sound will disturb your speech, but notifications still draw attention from the students. So we have to do more.

Do not disturb

To avoid any distraction during the class, I also ask students to turn Do Not Disturb on. It means that calls and notifications will be silent so they can stay focused.

How to turn Do Not Disturb on? There are two ways to turn it on.

First, you can go to Settings and activate Do Not Disturb.

Or you can open Control center by swiping down your screen from the upper-right corner and press the crescent moon.

⚠️ You can silence your device while it is locked, which is quite handy when you don’t want to be bothered by notifications at the end of the day. But as a teacher, I am mainly interested in this possibility: avoid any notifications while using the iPad. To do that, tap on Always.

From now on, no notification will prevent students from being completely focused on their task.


Problem is, all of this requires manual activation and students can always forget (or pretend to forget). And how can you blame them for this? One always forgets something. Automation will get rid of this issue. The iPad will never forget. So, we are going to ask the iPad: when I arrive at this location, turn off sound and turn on Silent mode. All of this automatically.

To do that, launch Shortcuts.

Choose Automation, then Create Personal Automation.

We want this to be automatically done when we arrive at a specific location. So when creating your automation, select Arrive.

Choose a location (our school is located at 54 Forty Lane, London).

And also choose Time range so the automation is triggered both by location and at a specific time only.

Now, we are going to select the actions we want to run. To do that, tap on the + button and type the first letters of Set Do Not Disturb then Set Volume.

Set volume to zero.

Now, press Next and Done.

And you’re good to go! Every time you arrive at this location, this automation will (automatically of course) set Do not disturb and mute the iPad. You don’t even have to think about it.

Of course, students love to be disturbed by their notifications. So, from time to time, you’ll have to check if they comply with this.

Now, let’s consider another recurrent source of distraction: the search for energy.

Charge your iPad

If need be, remind your students that they bring a fully charged iPad. We don’t have a socket for each student and, because of the restrictions due to the coronavirus, we don’t want them to move throughout the classroom to find one and be too close from another student. Therefore, they have to charge the battery before coming to school. They have to bring the charger as well! It may be useful if they are near a socket.

But bringing a power bank is a good idea too. You can find some of them on Amazon at a pretty good price: the Anker PowerCore Essential or the AUKEY 20000mAh Power Bank cost approximately £20.

And don’t forget to use Apple Classroom to check from time to time what students are doing on their device. If you don’t know how to do that, please read the tutorial dedicated to this app.



Yann Houry

Teacher and Director of Academic Research & Innovation @ Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill