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    ICT Reviews Windows 8 Special Report ICT Reviews Windows 8 Special Report Document Transcript

    • ICTReviews Independent buying advice for primary and secondary schools Key education features of Windows 8 Should your school make the switch? How it helps learning Why touch changes everything 8 8 for schools SPECIAL REPORT Windows 8 in association with Centerprise Best Windows 8 devices for schools
    • www.pcpro.co.uk/education 3ICTREVIEWS Shouldn’t we be focusing on attainment, on improving student engagement via personalised learning? Tim Bush istheUKeducationmarketing managerforMicrosoft.Followhimon Twitter@tbush Technology in education must focus on outcomes, says Microsoft’s Tim Bush When reviewing education projects, I often see decisions based on a single device, with teaching and learning wrapped around it, rather than a device being chosen based on what actually needs to be done with it. Sadly, it seems academic outcomes are often not the key objectives in these decisions, regardless of how well intended the decisions may be. Surely outcomes, not the device, are what’s important? Shouldn’t we be focusing on attainment, on improving student engagement via personalised learning? Shouldn’t we be providing students with access to content anytime, anywhere, and giving them vital experience with workforce tools to increase their employability? In short, shouldn’t these outcomes help inform which device to embrace and deploy? Factors beyond the device are also important. For example, askyourself what support programmes are in place to assist students, faculty and IT professionals to maximise their investments and meet their objectives, regardless of whether it’s saving money or improving academic attainment. Furthermore, the presence of a robust partner ecosystem to assist with deployment and development can be the difference between success and failure when it comes to the rollout of a technical solution. Access to apps that are critical to effective learning, such as virtual learning environments and content management systems, is another significant pillar, and should also help inform any future buying decision. Then there’s the ability to embrace legacy apps to leverage prior investments. It’s only when these outcomes, apps and support considerations are embraced that decisions around devices should be made. This more holistic perspective gives institutions the best chance for success, regardless of their chosen outcome or outcomes, and allows for a more informed choice to be made. With a strong foundation now in place, it’s time to think devices. I’m sure I’ll miss a few, but core requirements for devices within institutions would most likely include the following: • Convenient and mobile, with great battery life • Connected • Engaging and fun • Productive and compatible • Secure • Integrated Solutions that tick all these boxes have the potential to offer better value for money, be both a companion and a primary device and deliver a great content consumption and creation experience. If you add to the mix enhanced security, virtualisation and enterprise level management, you’ll have a compelling offering for your institution and something your IT team will feel confident about. On the subject of IT, in this era of one-to-one computing and BYOD, it’s important for the IT function to evolve and be more tightly aligned to the teaching and learning community within their institution. Only with a successful and mutually beneficial partnership between the teaching staff and IT can the full benefits of technology in this era of personalised and one-to-one computing be realised. Security, flexibility and empowerment should be the key areas of focus for IT to enable this vision. The technology is in place to facilitate this transition, but the culture needs to evolve alongside these developments. The key takeaway here is to ensure that a strong foundation is in place, based around the three pillars of outcomes, apps and support, and to base your device choices on what is most effective from both a content consumption and a content creation perspective. Budgets are tighter than ever, so it’s important to start thinking more holistically about your device strategy, beyond any one device. This is why I’m so excited about Windows 8. With learning becoming more personal, flexible and collaborative than ever before, Windows 8 offers an engaging environment that allows students to consume and create content, when and where they choose, across a wide variety of device types. Teachers can then use these capabilities to build their students’ 21st-century skills, therefore helping them to graduate and ensure they reach their full potential. Within this context, it’s vital to consider digital inclusion and ensure all learners have access to the relevant technologies. This could be an article in itself, but Microsoft’s Shape the Future programme can offer institutions a cost-effective way to deliver one-to-one initiatives for students and staff, combined with a range of support options to help successfully embed Windows 8 within their schools or college. With a focus on outcomes, and an emphasis on creating engaging and compelling learning experiences for learners of all ages centred on the cloud, Windows 8 helps us deliver this vision, and creates a learning platform that is truly fit for the 21st century. Opinion Column
    • www.pcpro.co.uk/education4 ICTREVIEWS ICT Reviews 8 key features ofWindows 8 Windows 8 includes a host of new features that will be particularly interesting to schools, such as cloud integration, visual passwords and cross-device synchronisation 8 key features of Windows 8 1SkyDrive integration Microsoft’s cloud storage service allows you to save gigabytes of files on the company’s servers for free. The SkyDrive app on the Windows 8 Start menu provides access to any documents, photos and music you’ve already uploaded to Microsoft’s cloud service, and allows you to upload new files. SkyDrive also appears in Windows Explorer on the desktop, allowing you to drag and drop files as if it were a hard disk on your own computer. This opens up the possibility of sharing documents such as lesson plans and timetables in one central location that’s easily accessible to all staff – and students and parents, if appropriate. 2Windows Store The Windows Store is where you’ll find thousands of apps – both free and paid-for – to download to your Windows 8 device. The Store is cleanly presented, with apps sensibly broken down into categories (including Education), each of which are sortable by rating, date of addition and other criteria. Many publishers will let you try a time-limited version of their apps before you have to buy. Apps are sold on a per-user rather than a per-PC basis, so you’ll be able to install purchased apps on multiple devices. 3Fewer surprise restarts Ever had a lesson interrupted because Windows decided to update itself? While we can’t guarantee this irritation will completely disappear, it’s much reduced in Windows 8. Firstly, Microsoft promises only to restart for security patches once a month – unless a “critical security update” crops up, in which case it will push out an update. Secondly, no more pop-ups will interrupt presentations or DVD playback – Microsoft will instead put a prominent warning about any necessary restarts on the revamped LockScreen. Furthermore, Microsoft will give you three days’ notice of any restart, not the 20-minute default countdown you get with Windows 7. Even if you sail past that three-day deadline, Windows 8 won’t restart if you have applications or unsaved work running in the background. 4Personalisation & passwords Windows 8 is the first tablet OS to offer different user accounts on the same device. As such, students can’t
    • www.pcpro.co.uk/education 5ICTREVIEWS gain access to teachers’ apps, email and documents if they’re sharing a tablet in the classroom. What’s more, the pain of remembering passwords – which is hardly ideal for younger children – is circumvented by the use of picture passwords. Simply pick a photo from your library (a class group photo, say), draw three gestures with your finger on the chosen photo (tapping three of the children in a certain order, for example) and that becomes your Windows login. Should you forget your picture password, you can switch back to the conventional login method. 5Refresh & reset PC After a week in a classroom, a PC will no doubt have had every toolbar, utility and app clicked by the mouse-happy children. Then they wonder why their PC is so slow. Microsoft has eased some of the pain of a full reinstall with a new feature called Refresh PC. This leaves all your files, settings and apps downloaded from the Microsoft Store intact and clears out the rest. Yes, this means regular Windows software will need to be reinstalled, but it’s less painful than a completely clean installation. If you need something stronger, you can reset the PC. This is an automated way of completely wiping your installation of Windows 8 and starting from scratch, which is handy if you’re planning to sell on a school PC with the operating system intact. 6App groups Install a few apps from the Windows Store and the Start screen can quickly start to look pretty disorganised. However, it’s possible to arrange apps into customisable groups – for example, English, Maths and Music – simply by dragging and dropping them into position. Once you’ve got your apps in place, click on the little minus sign in the bottom-right corner, or pinch to zoom out if you’re working on a touchscreen, and you’ll see a helicopter-style view of your Start screen. Right-click on a particular group of apps and you can give it name. 7Cross-device synchronisation The Windows 8 installation screen practically forces you to set up a Windows Live account. This not only becomes the login for your PC and gives you access to the Windows Store, but it also allows you to synchronise settings across different Windows 8 devices. Each student’s lock screen, Windows desktop wallpaper and Start screen theme are synchronised by default, providing visual consistency across multiple devices. Internet Explorer history and bookmarks, and other Windows settings, are also shared. In addition, the Sync menu lets you synchronise certain settings in your apps. 8Windows To Go Windows To Go allows schools to provide staff (and students) with a locked-down installation of Windows 8 on a USB thumb drive. This means you could give a USB stick to a supply teacher with all your applications preinstalled, which they could then run securely on their own laptop without going through the usual security hassles.
    • www.pcpro.co.uk/education6 ICTREVIEWS ICT Reviews Centerprise Q&A Q&A with Sam Kazerounian, MD of Centerprise Let’s get the big question out of the way first: why should a school trust Centerprise to provide its IT equipment or services? Centerprise International (Centerprise for short) was established in 1983, and has 30 years of experience in providing innovative ICT solutions to all market sectors. Our business has organically grown by forging long-standing partnerships with our customers and suppliers, making us one of the most experienced and respected ICT providers in the industry. I think our success in working in partnership with schools is our ability to listen, understand and work closely with the stakeholders to deliver the schools’ individual requirements. Our mission statement, “To meet our customer expectations, on time, first time, every time”, resonates throughout the Centerprise ethos. This approach and attitude is a testament to continuous referrals and customer relationships. Plus, Centerprise is a privately owned company with no debts or long-term liabilities, and a healthy positive cash balance. This enables us to continually invest in Centerprise and the development of emerging technologies, and more importantly to provide value for money to our customers. How can Centerprise help a school to provide a learning environment for its children? We recognise technology assists in making great education accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Technology promotes creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and a cohesive environment that’s shared with parents and the wider community. At the heart of what we do is a focus on ensuring that the infrastructure and core devices are capable, reliable and flexible, providing students and teachers with the ability to use the different elements of their IT around the school site, in the communal areas, classrooms and specific practical zones to enhance their learning. Our solutions provide educators the freedom to focus on doing what they do best – finding ways to help young people learn, develop and succeed. Do you have any examples of schools that you’ve worked with before? Of course! We have worked directly with infant, primary, secondary and colleges nationwide for the past 12 years, developing close relationships along the way. This year, we have been successful in winning ten free schools, all of which are due to open in 2013. We will be providing the complete ICT infrastructure and a range of services to all of these schools. We were also heavily involved in the £300 million Home Access Programme. In this time we shipped over 50,000 devices to low-income households with children aged 5 to 19. The programme objectives were to provide wider opportunities for pupils to engage in formal and informal learning, to increase parental engagement with schools and colleges, to increase the attainment of pupils, and to increase awareness of the economic and social benefits of having access to ICT at home. We’re extremely proud to have been involved in this successful project and continue to use our experience to benefit the schools we’ve worked with since. Centerprise clearly believes inWindows 8 for schools – why? Windows 8 creates an experience that helps schools improve Sam Kazerounian – Managing Director at Centerprise International Sam has a wealth of experience in the IT market. As the founder and former CEO of Compusys, Sam has brought to Centerprise an enviable track record of delivering large-scale solutions in the education market.With a deep understanding of how IT can make a difference in education, Centerprise is well positioned to offer innovative solutions with Sam at the helm. 1 Well-established company with more than 30 years’experience in supplying IT solutions. 2 Knowledgeable people right across the business,from specialist consultants to our fully trained engineers. 3 UK-based with a strong team of helpdesk and field-based engineers that really want to help. 4 Flexible approach to a custom-built solution. 5 Extensive ISO certifications to back up what we do. 6 Approved supplier on top education frameworks,including CPC DfE,GPS and Pro5. 7 Private,wholly owned British company with UK support services. 8 Education specialists: years of sector-specific experience to help you make the most of your IT resources. 9 Market-leading solutions from a wide range of partners or a custom-built solution. 10 50,000 square foot UK production facility,with fully trained experts in research,design and PC manufacturing. 10 key reasons to work with Centerprise
    • www.pcpro.co.uk/education 7ICTREVIEWS educational outcomes, bring learning to life for students, and build 21st-century skills. Both students and educators can consume and upload data, connect and collaborate, and even create presentations – all while working from anywhere. With Windows 8, the world is your classroom. With the emergence and popularity of mobile devices such as tablets, laptops and smartphones, IT administrators within the education sector face new challenges around delivering an infrastructure for users that’s not only flexible, but highly secure. Another challenge involves reducing IT expenditure of educational resources, while ensuring students are provided with the best technology that both improves the teaching environment and aids learning. Microsoft offers software solutions ideal for education that can help tackle these challenges with ease. Does a school have to be a certain size before Centerprise will work with them? Not at all. At Centerprise we understand the challenges faced when procuring ICT no matter how big or small, simple or complex the requirement may be. We’ve worked with establishments of varying sizes and we’re proud to offer the best-fit solution on time, first time, every time. What kind of services can you provide? We have an extensive range of services that have been developed and refined to meet even the toughest of challenges. These range from a single service, such as disposal of IT equipment, to a full managed service that includes asset management, client device imaging, network-infrastructure management and installation. Our dedicated team of Education Specialists can talkyou through our range of services step by step. What kind of products? Do you have preferred brands to work with? As one of the most well-established companies in the IT industry, we’ve built an extensive network of partners and boast strong accreditations with each of them. We can call on more than 1,000 vendors to offer the best-fit solution to a school’s individual needs, including market-leading products from our tier-one partners, or a custom-built solution, configured by experts in our 50,000 square foot production facility. Can Centerprise save schools money compared to other suppliers? Centerprise is committed to providing schools with the best infrastructure and support to ensure teachers can utilise IT resources to maximum effect in the classroom. With increasing pressure on budgets, it’s essential that all of our solutions are tailored to the individual requirement. Our long history in the market and relationships with world-leading manufacturers ensure our pricing is competitive. We also have a strong supply chain to support our solutions and reduce costs. But if a school is on a particularly tight budget, how can you help? Our flexibility allows us to offer a wide range of leasing options designed to meet tight budgets. Having a strong cash balance allows us to often lend our own money to finance leasing deals, offering a more attractive proposition compared to traditional leasing organisations. The increasing popularity of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is another area that can help to reduce costs. Many schools are thinking about improving their wireless networks, now that they have tablets, phones and laptops all connecting to them simultaneously – is this an area where you can help? Definitely! The reliability of a school’s wireless network has never been more important. Over the past couple of years, wireless solutions have really developed and can now offer the backbone to a truly mobile environment. There’s a great mix of wireless solutions in the market right now and we work closely with some of the leading vendors in this field, such as Ruckus, Meru and Aruba. Our experienced specialists would be happy to offer a consultancy on your wireless requirement to help meet the needs of your students and staff. “It doesn’t make sense to employ someone on a full-time basis to manage our ICT when we can use the services of Centerprise for a fraction of the cost. Centerprise manages and supports our entire network infrastructure, and its advice and guidance is invaluable when planning for future investment. Centerprise’s dedicated field service engineer fully understands our setup,which means he’s able to resolve issues quickly and with minimal disruption to our teaching.”Matthew Lowden, Headteacher, Anton Infant School Why Anton Infant School uses Centerprise Centerprise benefits from a massive, UK-based production facility, which means it can provide custom-built solutions based on schools’ needs FIND OUT HOW CENTERPRISE CAN HELP YOUR SCHOOL Call 01256 378150 to speak to an Education Specialist or visit www. centerprise.co.uk/education
    • WINDOWS 8 IS A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TYPE OF OPERATING SYSTEM TO ITS PREDECESSORS, AND IT OPENS UP A NUMBER OF UNIQUE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES for schools Walking around the BETT show earlier this year, there was one stand that had more buzz than any other. It wasn’t for the latest bit of sexy hardware or some meaningless freebie – it was for Windows 8. Microsoft’s ambitious operating system certainly hasn’t drawn universal praise, so what was it about the software that so appealed to the visiting teachers? Inevitably, the answer is nuanced – there is no single killer punch. But in this guide, we set out to explore the different elements of Windows 8 that make up the whole. What difference can it make to learning? What advantages does it offer compared to rivals such as Apple’s iPad? Should your school be interested? We certainly think so. 8 www.pcpro.co.uk/educationICTREVIEWS Windows 8 ICT Reviews Windows 8 for schools
    • www.pcpro.co.uk/education ICTREVIEWS 9 Microsoft’s learning heritage Few would deny the iPad’s impact on education. Whether it’s the use of iBooks as costly textbook replacements or the injection of fun that a tablet brings when doing coursework, placing iPads in the hands of children has transformed the learning experience in hundreds of schools around the UK. But when it comes to manageability – embedding the iPad within existing systems – it’s safe to say its attractions begin to diminish. First and foremost, the iPad is a consumer device, and when simplicity is everything, handy features such as managed system updates are quietly forgotten. Contrast that with Microsoft, which has accrued many years of experience working closely with schools across the world. It understands that you place learning, rather than a piece of technology, at the heart of the offering, however nice that technology might be. While the iPad has massive appeal in certain niches – some schools will be willing to sacrifice security and manageability for the benefits it confers – Apple’s tablet doesn’t fit neatly into existing frameworks. It will always sit around the edges. It’s all about touch There are plenty of lessons to take from the iPad, though, and one of the reasons children love tablets and phones so much boils down to one word: touch. Given a choice between navigating through screens with a mouse or the prod of a finger, we know one comes much more naturally to children than the other. That’s why Windows 8’s true power only shines through on a touchscreen device. There’s a huge amount of choice out there: plain tablets with optional snap-on keyboards; touchscreen laptops that transform into tablets through a twist of the built-in keyboard; even just laptops with a touchscreen. We’re also seeing a nice selection of gorgeous all-in-one touch PCs running Windows 8; quite how long they’d last in a classroom is a different matter. No matter what the device, the Windows 8 interface remains the same – and Microsoft believes this is a key aid to learning. By unifying the look and feel of the operating system across devices, students (and teachers) only need to get to grips with one interface, and so one barrier to learning is removed. Wherever possible, Microsoft has tried to make the apps touch-friendly as well. The default web browser, Internet Explorer, is a good example of this: the only time you’ll need to use the pop-up onscreen keyboard is to enter addresses or search terms. Now even the youngest children will be able to navigate their way around the web. HeadtotheWindows Storetodownload apps;there’saspecial Educationsection withplentyofapps tochoosefrom,but thequalityismixed. Tomakethesefive “Charms”appear,swipe infromtherightor placeyourmouseinto theright-hand cornersofthe screen.Thetime anddatewillalso appearatthe bottomleftof thescreen. WithWindows8,youhavefullcontroloverwhichapps appearwhere–youjustdraganddropthemintoposition. We’veputaselectionofourfavouriteeducationapps (includingKhanAcademy)frontandcentre. Educationalappsneedn’tbedry.InWordament, youhavetofindasmanywordsaspossible withintwominutes(thinkBoggleforthe21st century).It’sagreatvocabulary-builder. AversionofOffice2013–includingWord,Excel, PowerPointandOneNote–isincludedwith WindowsRT,butyou’llneedalicencetouse OfficeonaWindows8tablet,laptoporPC. ThetraditionalWindowsdesktopisstill there,bothinWindows8andWindowsRT. Youcanaccessitbyclickingthetileor pressingtheWindowskeyandDtogether. “Microsoft has accrued many years of experience working closely with schools across the world”
    • ICTREVIEWS www.pcpro.co.uk/education10 ICT Reviews Windows 8 for schools It goes a step further than this, too. The Windows Start screen (see the annotated picture on p9) can easily double as a pinboard for a project if students “pin” web pages as they find them. With the ability to pin virtually anything to the Start screen, it makes accessing all the elements of an ongoing project that much easier. Universal appeal Microsoft has put a lot of effort into creating the same user experience, no matter what type of device people use. If you pick up a Windows 8 laptop or a Windows RT tablet, or start using a Windows 8 PC, you’ll be greeted by the same Start screen. This grid of icons takes a little getting used to after Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7, but Microsoft is making the shift easier with Windows 8.1 – the Start button has returned, for instance, and search is no longer hidden away. With Windows still the dominant operating system found in new computers, this familiarity should help students at school as well. Any barriers that technology puts in the way of learning – and user interfaces are the most obvious, because a child has to learn to navigate their way around an operating system before they can do any meaningful work – should be removed where possible. In this vein, you could consider upgrading all your school PCs to Windows 8, rather than sticking with Windows 7. Microsoft has eased the process by using the same deployment tools as with Windows 7, so your in-house team or a third-party such as Centerprise (see Q&A on p6) can take charge of the process with minimal fuss. Share and share alike One of the cleverest aspects of Windows 8 is that all this hard work is no longer locked into the hard disk of a particular PC. While students can save a word processing document, for example, to their local hard disk, by default they’ll be sharing either to SkyDrive – Microsoft’s online file-storage service – or SharePoint, whether that’s via SharePoint Online, which comes as part of a school’s Office 365 package, or an existing SharePoint installation. This means they’ll be able to access their information no matter where they are or what device they’re using. This is a big plus when it comes to students working on their own, but its power is amplified manifold when students work in a team. It even opens up the possibility of collaborating with a school on the opposite side of the world. As with so many things, the constraints of what can be achieved are largely dictated by the imaginations of the users. There are some immediate practical advantages, too. Why not share teachers’ reports on a public SkyDrive, along with lesson plans and timetables? We mentioned Office 365, and it deserves some dedicated thought. Some people still confuse Office 365 with traditional Office packages such as Office XP or Office 2010, or think it’s the Microsoft alternative to Google Docs, but it’s far more than that. Perhaps the biggest benefit of Office 365 is that it puts Microsoft in charge of a lot of the back-end systems that the school IT department would otherwise have to run. Email is one obvious example: instead of your IT department running an Exchange Server, all the administrative burden is switched to Microsoft. Adding a new student or teacher, or removing them from the system, becomes a basic task done through the Admin Center. The same is true for Lync Online – the communication and collaboration tool – and SharePoint Online. All these tools that were previously the reserve of large enterprises or 5,000-plus colleges are brought into the grasp of primary and secondary schools. As ever, this isn’t just about making life easier for those involved in the school’s IT; it’s about inspiring learning. You could build a project or class website using SharePoint Online, or simply make it easier for teachers to book specialist rooms by tapping into Exchange Online. There’s no shortage of education apps in the Windows Store – 7,853 and counting as we went to press – but finding high-quality offerings can be tricky The Windows 8 TimeLapse app was used by one Year 6 teacher to create a video charting the growth of a tomato plant (see opposite) “Microsoft has put a lot of effort into creating the same user experience,no matter the type of device”
    • www.pcpro.co.uk/education ICTREVIEWS One major difference between these operating systems is that Windows RT is designed specifically for use on tablets – you’re not able to buy it or install it on a PC or a laptop. In some ways, Windows RT is a cut-down version, with a number of restrictions. For example, you’re not able to install software as before: the only way to add programs to a Windows RT device is to download an app from the WindowsStore. So you may be surprised to find the traditional Windows desktop underneath the touch interface. You can still drag and drop files, but students are most likely to use it for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote – all of which are bundled with Windows RT (they aren’t bundled with Windows 8). There’s also a big technical difference between Windows 8 and Windows RT: the former runs on a traditional type of processor, such as an Intel Core chip, while Windows RT only runs on so-called ARM processors. These don’t have the same brute force power as an Intel Core chip, which means a Windows RT tablet will struggle with demanding tasks such as video processing. If you’re looking to buy one type of tablet that can also stand in for a full PC, you should consider buying Windows 8 tablets rather than Windows RT tablets. On the other hand, a Windows 8 tablet may be over-specified for your needs in certain places, so you could save money by investing in a subset of Windows RT tablets for use in certain situations. 11 For more on the benefits of Office 365, visit Microsoft’s site at http:// office.microsoft.com; for deeper guides, head to http://office365.pcpro.co.uk. Learning through apps So how else are schools using Windows 8 to aid learning? Charlotte Coade from Simon de Senlis primary school in Northampton had this to say on the Microsoft Schools Blog: “As a Year 6 teacher, I’m always looking at ways to link learning together and make it meaningful for the children. One of the science topics we study is ‘interdependence and adaptation’ – a topic that can be very limited in its delivery. Yes, we can show pictures of plants and leaves to the children, and get them to read about the changes in plants from a textbook, but is this really engaging for the children? And how much do they benefit from it? “It’s important to remember that the whole point of technology is to enhance learning – not just replace something for the sake of it.” Charlotte found the TimeLapse app for Windows 8, and used it so the children could film the growth of a tomato plant over time. The 11-second video (http://youtu.be/0WeL3IGMvcg) shows the plant springing back into life shortly after being watered. The process of creating the video, and the end result, is something the children will surely remember for far longer than a textbook-based exercise. Finding new apps The biggest weakness of Windows 8 compared to the iPad is the quality of education apps on offer. The iPad was the first tablet on the market and sold in droves, which gave developers plenty of incentives to create high-quality apps targeting the education sector (not to mention the children of the 40- and 50-somethings who bought the original iPad). Couple that with Apple’s more aggressive approach to curating apps and it becomes much easier to find the right app for the job. With Windows 8, you’ll find plenty of apps in the education sector of the Windows Store, but not enough of them are of the quality we would like. You’ll Challenge your students to create professional- level Windows 8 apps using professional tools and you could set them on a lucrative career path WINDOWS 8 VS WINDOWS RT This is the Microsoft Surface RT, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell that simply by looking at it. The differences are very much under the hood… either have to rely on word of mouth or download a lot of lesser-quality apps to find the best choice for your needs. That said, there are plenty of apps worthy of mention. Travel is an excellent start – not least because it comes ready-supplied with Windows 8, so you don’t need to download it – thanks to some great photography and detailed articles that help introduce children to countries, cities and other cultures. Weather, another pre-supplied app, could also be used imaginatively in the classroom. Why not use it as an information tool when working on climate studies, whether you’re looking at the present weather or forecasts or simply compiling stats? Science students will find plenty to choose from, whether that’s enhanced periodic tables or sophisticated apps such as iCell, which allows biology students to explore different types of culture. There are numerous study aids, too. Alongside Microsoft’s OneNote you could choose to use a mind-mapping tool such as NovaMind, a homework aid such as MyHomework, or the ever-popular Evernote. The good news is that more high- quality apps are arriving on Windows 8 as each month passes and, with an “The good news is that more high-quality apps are arriving on Windows 8 as each month passes”
    • www.pcpro.co.uk/educationICTREVIEWS As this guide went to press, Microsoft announced a major update to Windows 8: Windows 8.1. Due for release in September, it’s a free download, and one we heartily recommend you take advantage of if you’re currently using Windows 8 or Windows RT devices. Perhaps the biggest enhancement concerns usability. Many Windows 8 users complained about the simplified Start screen, which tookover the whole screen whether you were using a 10in tablet or a 27in desktop PC. With Windows 8.1, Microsoft offers the option of booting straight to the desktop rather than to the Start screen. It has also reinstated the Windows Start key, although this will launch the Start screen rather than a nested menu. It’s a sensible compromise, especially since the Start screen can now be changed to the Desktop background, making the switch between the two much more natural. Another plus is that you can view multiple apps at the same time. Previously you could only see two side by side at any one time, with one forced to fill a quarter of the screen. Now you have control over how much space to give each app. This makes it much easier, for example, to use Internet Explorer to view a resource and type up notes in OneNote by its side. The other big change is support for smaller screens. We expecta slew ofcompact Windows 8 tablets to be released in September, many of which may be keenly priced for schools. 12 ICT Reviews Windows 8 for schools aggressive approach to pricing tablets for schools, the number of educational establishments with a fleet of suitable devices will continue to increase. That means there are more reasons for educational app publishers to create dedicated Windows 8 apps or to port successful offerings from the iPad. Create your own apps The concept of apps can in itself be used as a learning tool. Why not challenge students – no matter what their age – to identify a problem and design an app to solve it? For younger children, this would be a more theoretical exercise. They could discuss it in groups, write down their suggestions and perhaps even design an interface. But there’s nothing to stop secondary school students from producing their own apps – and publishing them on Windows Store. There are already some excellent resources for this, including user- friendly Microsoft DreamSpark (www.dreamspark.com) and learning-based FacultyConnection (www.microsoft.com/faculty). The security question So far we’ve concentrated on learning and the in-classroom experience, but there are wider issues to consider as well, not least security. In 2012, the Ponemon Institute produced a global study on mobility risks. Top of the poll in terms of security technologies that would mitigate risk were device-level encryption, endpoint security solutions and identity/access management. It’s no surprise that these are all areas where Windows 8 is strong, particularly when compared to its rival tablet operating systems. For instance, Windows 8 includes a tool called AppLocker that can prevent students from using non-approved apps during the school day – thinkXbox corporate environments. We all know that school laptops and tablets will go missing, sometimes permanently – at which point you’ll enjoy the comfort of knowing that you can remotely wipe the contents of the disk the next time it comes online. Thinking outside the box Now that Windows 8 has been live and active in education for a few months, we’re starting to see some interesting applications that focus on another area of education: assessment. Liverpool Community College bought 600 Lenovo tablets in February 2013 for its staff, and three months later one of its lecturers, the business department’s John Bainbridge, sent this email to a colleague, Ken Ryan: “On Monday of this week ([the] first day back after Easter), we wanted to radically change the way that we assessed students, and we needed some method of recording the assessments. We initially thought about obtaining some recorders, and then a light came on that we could use the tablet. “We are going to use the tablets to record professional discussions and presentations. It was fantastic that we had the tools at hand! I spoke to Dennis and Steve at Clarence Street [IT support] and they showed me how to make both sound recordings and videos. I have cascaded this information to my team, and we are videoing our first presentation today! Dennis and Steve were brilliant. We have moved a long way in three days, and that is due to your foresight and providing us with the tools. “Most importantly… you, and we, have [made] 70 students extremely happy, revolutionised our assessment methods and enabled us to achieve better results, inspire students, improve the grades of students and improve the success of our courses (hopefully). Oh, and reduced the workload of staff!” According to Ken, the college has launched lunchtime training sessions, WHAT IS WINDOWS 8.1? games, for instance. The tools to nail down such usage will be familiar with IT admins too (to be precise, you’ll need to install Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 8). With massive sensitivity around personal data, it’s only sensible to implement strong encryption regimens. Again, this is a traditional strength of Microsoft, largely due to its background in Windows 8.1 brings a number of improvements, including the ability to view multiple apps at the same time need Serv Tool se pe on im en Ag tr Liverpool Community College bought Lenovo tablets for staff, who are now using them to record assessments in an unusual, but effective, way (see right) “Windows 8 includes a tool called AppLocker that can prevent students from using non-approved apps”
    • www.pcpro.co.uk/education ICTREVIEWS The tablet Typically featuring a 10in screen (although smaller versions will be released later this year – see “What is Windows 8.1?” opposite), plain Windows 8 tablets tend to come without keyboards. They run either Windows RT or Windows 8 and tend to weigh between 400g and 800g. The convertible We’ve seen a lot of “laptops” that, with a clever twist of the screen, turn into tablets. These have a built-in keyboard and are inevitably heavier and thicker than straight tablets, with most weighing between 1kg and 1.5kg, but they’re also more versatile and tend to be more powerful. The touchscreen laptop While you can buy a Windows 8 laptop without touch, we recommend opting for one with a touchscreen; we thinkthis will be more attractive in a school environment. In all other ways, they lookand behave like the Windows laptops we’ve grown used to over the years. The touchscreen PC Windows 8 has allowed manufacturers to play around with the all-in-one PC design, with some even bending the screen down flat to create a table-style PC, which is great for collaboration. The screens tend to be large, luxurious and a pleasure to tap. 13 “covering how to use the tablets to improve teaching and learning – exactly the kind of thing that John’s doing”. “We’re also looking at how we can use the tablets to save the money we were spending on separate video cameras,” he says. Uniting home and school As another example of thinking differently, consider the problem – and opportunity – of all the technology that students are now bringing into school. Rather than have all those devices switched off from 8.30am to 4pm, you could be exploiting them. The technology behind this is Windows To Go. Originally conceived as a feature for large businesses, it provides a secure Windows 8 environment that’s accessed by booting from a USB flash drive or external hard disk. It also opens up some interesting possibilities for schools, since it means you can hand a USB flash drive to a student who’s brought in their own laptop and they can access all the school’s resources as if it were an official school laptop. Alternatively, take sickness: a teacher can’t make it in, so you have to call in a replacement supply teacher. Give them the USB flash drive and they can access all your school materials (including the prepared lesson plan) without fiddling around with security settings or borrowing a special device. It also means that a staff member whose laptop is broken doesn’t need to wait around for a replacement. Windows To Go can also extend the school environment into the home. A student could use the school’s licensed versions of Word and Excel on their home computer and have direct access to resources shared on SkyDrive or SharePoint, as if they were using a computer on the school network. Next steps It’s hopefully clear from this article that Windows 8 offers schools some interesting learning opportunities that have never been possible before. And it should be equally clear that if you approach Windows 8 in a piecemeal manner, you’ll never be able to take full advantage. As with any major change to a learning environment, it needs to be carefully planned. WHAT TYPES OF DEVICE CAN I CHOOSE? Windows To Go can make every laptop that passes your school’s gates a safe, network- ready Windows 8 machine You may not want to make a wholesale change right now, in which case you may want simply to ensure that the next set of laptops or tablets you buy have the most suitable version of Windows installed – at the very least, we suggest you make sure they feature a touchscreen. However, if this is the right time to think seriously about your infrastructure, we recommend doing two things. One is talking to other schools in a similar situation; don’t forget about Microsoft’s Partners in Learning network – www.pil-network.com – a peer-to-peer networking community with 4.5 million member teachers worldwide. Our other recommendation is to speak to a specialist in this sector, such as Centerprise. See our Q&A with its managing director on p6. “Windows 8 offers schools interesting learning opportunities that have never been possible before”
    • www.pcpro.co.uk/education14 ICTREVIEWS ICT Reviews Windows 8 devices We’ve already seen dozens of Windows 8 tablets, laptops and PCs that would be an excellent choice for schools. Here are the edited highlights... 8 greatWindows devices Normally costing more than £300 plus VAT, for a very limited time – until 31 August 2013 – Microsoft is offering schools the chance to buy a Surface RT for £133 plus VAT. Even without the slash in pricing, the Surface RT is a great introduction to the new iteration of Windows and the education apps on offer, thanks to some nifty hardware design (we love the kickstand and magnetic detachable keyboards) and a screen that looks phenomenal at full brightness. Email educationuk@microsoft.com for details. Microsoft Surface RT This 10.1in tablet includes an Intel Atom processor and runs full Windows 8 rather than Windows RT; we cover the differences between the two operating systems in the main feature (see p8). An Atom chip means that it stutters when performing the most demanding tasks, but is great for everyday jobs – and backs it up with stunning battery life, lasting 11hrs 46mins in our tests. And it’s great for note-taking, thanks to a stylus that slots neatly into the top edge. It’s light, too, weighing only 568g. Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 This is a no-fuss laptop that doesn’t even include a touchscreen; what makes it interesting, aside from the concentrated amount of power (expect top-end Intel processors, plenty of RAM and a big hard disk, whichever model you choose), is a great touchpad that allows you to access all the Windows 8 gestures. A dedicated graphics chip and large 15.6in screen make it a superb choice if you’re after a laptop that can easily create complex videos, but don’t want to spend all your budget in one go. Toshiba Satellite L855 Take it out of the box and the IdeaPad Yoga 13 looks like a normal Windows 8 laptop, but an ingenious hinge bends all the way backwards to give the Yoga its name. Just want to view a video? Put it in “tent mode”, like an inverted V (as shown in the picture above). Or use it as a tablet and bend the keyboard all the way round. And when you need the full power of a laptop, you can use it as one – with all the power you’d expect from a machine boasting Intel’s Core i5 or Core i7 processor. Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
    • www.pcpro.co.uk/education 15ICTREVIEWS Dell takes an interesting and different approach to the Lenovo Yoga 13, with the screen flipping around in its frame to shift from laptop to tablet mode. The mechanism works superbly in practice – although we admit we’d be a little nervous about leaving it unattended with a classroom of younger children for too long – and the 12.5in screen looks great. The only real drawback, which it shares with the Yoga, is that it feels a little heavy in tablet mode at 1.5kg. Dell XPS 12 There’s no stunning education discount on the Surface Pro, as opposed to the Surface RT (see opposite), but you do get the uncompromised power of Windows 8, a Full HD 10.6in screen and a Core i5 processor to make sure everything runs smoothly. Plus, just like the Surface RT, the optional keyboard detaches via a clever magnetic mechanism even young children can’t break (probably). The downsides are a weight of over 900g and the fact that it runs a little warm when pushed. Microsoft Surface Pro All-in-one PCs are nothing new, but the Dell XPS One 27 is enough to make anyone sit up and pay attention. This behemoth mounts a 27in display atop a flexible stand, and crams in all the top-flight hardware you’d expect in a £1,000+ PC. Adding a touchscreen also adds £300 in price, and we’re not convinced it’s worth it when the main reason for touch – the apps – rarely work at their best on such a large screen. With or without touch, though, the XPS One 27 will enhance any classroom. Dell XPS One 27 This one is for schools with a slightly more generous budget (at retail, it costs £833 plus VAT), but it returns dividends thanks to a stunning chassis, powerful graphics chip and a high-quality touchscreen. In fact, we can’t praise this 13.3in, 1,920 x 1,080 screen enough – it can bring to life images that look dull on other laptops. We wouldn’t recommend it for a mass rollout, but if you need a lightweight, top-end device for a particular need, then the Series 7 Ultra is an excellent choice. Samsung Series 7 Ultra