Outline of the Presentation


All subject areas.




Teachers, Principals, Supers

Skill Level:



Participants will learn how they can deploy and use Guided Learning in the schools and/or districts.

Defining the Challenge:

With the large scale rollout of 1:1 devices at Hamilton City Schools, we immediately observed the challenge of distractibility and lack of focus. Students frequently self-reported this as the number one problem with classroom technology.

Developing a Solution:

Hamilton approached the solution from two angles: 1) Design a platform that would host educator created apps and; 2) Create a specific app that limited distractions. Hoping to help other districts, we made both the platform and the app open-source and free to share. The platform is called Abre and the app is called Guided Learning.

Teachers and students begin and run their day through the Abre platform. When a teacher wants to create a focused lesson, they create a Guided Learning Lesson in Abre. In short:

  1. The teacher lists a series of websites they want students to visit. This series is the Guided Learning Lesson.
  2. The teacher sets restriction levels of the lesson.
  3. A code is generated to share with students.

Students, meanwhile, launch the Guided Learning App on their Chromebook or Windows Laptop and enter the code. This launches a locked browser that allows students to visit the sites approved by the teacher.

Guided Learning and Abre have become the backbone of the district. Every day we have +15,000 unique visits on Abre. Hundreds of Guided Learning lessons are used throughout the week. Common assessments are delivered and controlled via Guided Learning. It is an incredibly popular application.

Abre and Guided Learning’s source code is hosted on GitHub. Schools are free to set up, try, and even modify!

Supporting Research

There’s a good bit of research on the role of attention (or lack thereof) in learning. I will present some of the key studies as a short citation to the snapshot.

Some examples:

Learning in the age of Digital Distractions.
Why Don’t Students Like School?
Effects of distraction on memory and cognition.
Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?