We have been very busy over the past couple of months supporting other schools with the IT roadmaps, based on the success we have had in using Office 365. The success has come from simplifying what we do and how we do it, this obviously is not the same for all schools but for us has led to engaged students and developing new ways of teachers using technology, at different levels as part of their teaching model. With the schools that we have helped recently one thing came across very clearly and that was the definition of the What is a tablet?
Teaching staff’s generic answer was ‘its an Apple iPad’, which with the dominance of the I-device since its launch in 2010 is really unsurprising! Lets cut to the chase here, the number and quality of the iPad ‘apps’ makes it a really appealing answer to technology for a lot of education establishments around the world. With the iPad launch in 2010 it really proved that younger generation ‘IT savvy’ teachers (lets say mid 20’s) have never not known the iPad as being the only tablet on the marketplace. This also been driven with its purchase as a consumer device, it has added to the ‘we must have iPad as our tablets in school’ debate.
Don’t get me wrong I have a trusted iPad 2 at home which I use frequently, however we have been talking to schools about devices running Windows 8.1, their price points and what can be done with them to explore key skills such as collaboration, communication and sharing, all key 21st Century Skills.
Windows 8.1 allows you to do things other devices still don’t do, such as splitting the screen to run two application as the same time and move data between them. Windows 10 takes this further by allowing you to snap more applications simultaneously on the screen at the same time. Of course there is an ever-growing range of educational apps in the Windows Store for all ages, popular apps like Explain Everything have been ported from IOS to Windows now.
The first thing that seems to surprise people and teachers thinking is the range of hardware platforms that have become available to suit specific needs.
7 & 8 inch tablets
A great range from sturdy hand-held devices from manufacturers like LINQ and Toshiba are now available starting from an amazing £99.00 per unit, includes a full version of Windows 8.1
10 inch devices
Ideal for the classroom, with a slightly bigger screen, can support technologies such as Miracast (Wireless projection), HDMI and USB, prices start from £142.00
Plenty of devices from Lenovo, Acer, Toshiba and others allowing you to get the best of both world by using a full keyboard, or disconnect and use it in a tablet form factor. A lot of students prefer typing on physical keyboards, liking responsive keyboards. We now have a number of devices that support inking by use of stylus, which opens up realms of possibilities with software like OneNote 2013, from both teachers and students.
A stylus in the hand can open the device to Art programs like FreshPaint, or build handwriting skills. Where as for younger children a smaller form version might be more applicable. Added to this the power of Microsoft Office 365, gives students all the tools to utilise a mobile first agenda in school. Knowing that these skills are what students will use in the outside world of FE or work.
The latest version of the Surface Pro from Microsoft was launched a few months ago incorporating the best of mobile computing and certainly has began to reshape how we think of teaching with technology.
Don’t take my word for it!
The nice people at Tablet-Academy http://www.tablet-academy.com are working closely with Microsoft, to give educators the chance to see Windows 8.1 in action. The Microsoft Showcase Classroom tour will be visiting all parts of the country to give educators the chance to see Windows 8.1 in the classroom setting, and how to utilise it with technologies like Office 365. There is a cost of £105.00 per delegate, but you do get to walk away with an 8 inch Windows 8 device at the end of the day.
Your will find more details here http://www.tablet-academy.com/win8edutour.html
Our school principal Russell Boulton has recently moved to the Surface Pro 3, so he can use tools like the OneNote Class Notebook, for preparing dynamic lessons and utilise flipped learning techniques. The Surface Pro 3 fulfils all his needs both at his desk and in the classroom. This has meant Russell has now handed back an IPad and IMac to the IT Team. I am hoping to create a separate post about Russell’s experience on the Surface Pro3