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Why Microsoft Surface gets top marks in the classroom

Amy Farrelly, photography and lens-based media teacher at Rugby School, shares thoughts on how Surface devices have evolved teaching for the better

Posted by Julian Owen | April 03, 2018 | Technology

At Rugby School, we have long strived to ensure our students have the best opportunities to learn and develop. 

As one of the longest-standing independent schools in the country, we continue to pride ourselves on fully preparing students to take on the world, in whatever direction they choose. For this, we have a responsibility to not only teach and mentor, but to unlock creativity, passion and aspirations through new and exciting experiences. Given our students are becoming so ‘tech-savvy’, ensuring our classroom devices were able to encourage these was key.

Out with the old, in with the new

We introduced devices including the Surface Pros, Surface Laptops and Surface Studios to give the students and ourselves, the teachers, a whole new experience. For a number of years, we had primarily used Apple devices, especially in the art department, with the iMac being the tool of choice. However, we were keen to take a leap and begin trialling new options. 

During our trial period, it was important to not only see if the Surface devices were fit for purpose teaching-wise, but to also see the reaction of students. Here, we took a completely pupil-centric approach, where they had the opportunity to experiment with the Surface Studios themselves and feedback to us in confidence. Almost immediately, the path we would eventually take was clear. Students became quickly accustomed to the new devices and, as a result, became more intuitive and creative than before.

Raising the bar

While certainly the introduction of Surface Studios went down well with students, it also became apparent that the teaching staff were impressed. As a school, we are a mobile unit and constantly find ourselves moving from one place to the next. The Surface Pro’s functionality as a laptop and/or tablet has complemented our day-to-day routines well, while also opening our eyes to new possibilities. 

Throughout my years of teaching, I have created my lessons from a variety of sources and using Surface devices has only extended that further. Now I can quickly show students video clips, scan photos, share with them in real-time and incorporate inspirations quickly into my lesson plans, if needed. This has certainly had a positive effective across all my art and media students.

Now more than ever, students are more engaged, creative and collaborative. Surface devices have really helped to unlock their potential and there’s no looking back. At the moment, the most popular way of using the Surface Studio is as a ‘tablet’, with its ability to lie almost vertically, students can use it as a drafting table. They are using it very intuitively, like you would with pen and paper. They are adapting to it in a natural, comfortable way, switching very quickly between the Dial which allows for improved accessibility, the pen and touch screen. It’s a perfect combination.

Not only has the technology helped students get more interactive, it has also helped them with learning differences between multi-medias. They now have the opportunity to use the device for still photography, animation, film-making, creating visual collages and digital mood boards. The majority now even use OneNote in the process to create digital workbooks and annotate which are easily transferable between devices. They can also print these out quickly as evidence for their project books and coursework. Who would have thought that moving to Surface would change not only how we teach but how we learn? Our pupils are producing work at a much faster rate to a higher standard and are more enthusiastic and passionate – what more could we wish for?

The future is certainly bright

The adoption of Surface has changed our educational process and now the opportunities are endless. As an educator, I cannot wait to embrace more of these devices in the future. Technology truly knows no bounds and digital narratives are constantly changing. If we keep pace with this technology, through adopting innovative devices like Surface, we’re able to push the boundaries of what our students are capable of and how they develop now and in the future. 

And the best part of all this? We are still learning, both teachers and students alike. I’m truly excited for the future of education and observing first-hand how our students evolve into the young professionals of tomorrow. 

To learn more, visit rugbyschool.co.uk

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