Independent buying advice for primary and secondary schools
Should your school
make the switch?
How it helps learning
Why touch changes
in association with Centerprise
8 devices for
Tim Bush istheUKeducationmarketing
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
• Engaging and fun
• Productive and compatible
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Windows 8 is the ﬁrst tablet OS
to offer different user accounts on the
same device. As such, students can’t
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
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.
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.
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.
ICT Reviews Centerprise QA
QA 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 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
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
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.
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.
company with more
than 30 years’experience
in supplying IT solutions.
people right across
the business,from specialist
consultants to our fully
3 UK-based with a strong
team of helpdesk and
field-based engineers that
really want to help.
4 Flexible approach to a
5 Extensive ISO
back up what we do.
6 Approved supplier
on top education
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.
solutions from a
wide range of partners or
a custom-built solution.
10 50,000 square foot
facility,with fully trained
experts in research,design
and PC manufacturing.
10 key reasons to work with Centerprise
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.
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.
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
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
Our experienced specialists would
be happy to offer a consultancy on
your wireless requirement to help
meet the needs of your students
“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.
and supports our entire
and its advice and
guidance is invaluable
when planning for
field service engineer
fully understands our
he’s able to resolve
issues quickly and with
minimal disruption to
Anton Infant School
Why Anton Infant School
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.
WINDOWS 8 IS A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TYPE OF OPERATING SYSTEM TO ITS PREDECESSORS,
AND IT OPENS UP A NUMBER OF UNIQUE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
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.
ICT Reviews Windows 8 for schools
www.pcpro.co.uk/education ICTREVIEWS 9
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
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.
accrued many years
of experience working
closely with schools
across the world”
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.
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 QA on p6)
can take charge of the process with
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.
in the Windows
Store – 7,853
and counting as
we went to press
– but ﬁnding
The Windows 8
was used by one
Year 6 teacher
to create a
the growth of
a tomato plant
“Microsoft has put
a lot of effort into
creating the same user
the type of device”
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.
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
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
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
8 apps using
tools and you
could set them
on a lucrative
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
“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
“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
Tools for Windows 8).
personal data, it’s
only sensible to
Again, this is a
largely due to its
Windows 8.1 brings a number of improvements, including the
ability to view multiple apps at the same time
for staff, who
are now using
them to record
an unusual, but
“Windows 8 includes a
tool called AppLocker
that can prevent
students from using
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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
As with any major change to a
learning environment, it needs to be
WHAT TYPES OF DEVICE CAN I CHOOSE?
Windows To Go
can make every
a safe, network-
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
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 QA
with its managing director on p6.
“Windows 8 offers
that have never been
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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