Surface Pro 3 – The Perfect Storm for Saint Stephen’s College

Two students using a Surface Pro 3By Peter West, Director of e-Learning, Saint Stephen’s College

Technology has undeniably changed the way we communicate and access information in the office and at home and this should be the same in the classroom. It’s an information aware generation, and our students need a learning environment that drives growth, not hinders it.

At Saint Stephen’s College, we’ve strived to be at the forefront of technology enhanced learning. We’re a school that’s working hard to embrace the digital era, to enhance the learning experience for our students. When we introduced the Surface Pro 3 to all teachers from Prep to Year 12, our school began another huge transformation.

There was this perfect storm, with a range of features coming together all at once that made it a very compelling device. It is light, thin, powerful, the size of an A4 page, with high res cameras and a pen that behaves like a ‘real’ pen, but is much better; it is a powerful ‘laptop’ computer that can also behave as a tablet.

We introduced the Surface Pro 3 to all of our teaching staff, to get them familiar with the device, particularly with digital ink, before we start introducing the technology to our students. We believe the Surface has the power to successfully reshape the way we do things in the classroom, and we’re excited to see it all come to fruition.

The Surface Pro 3 allows us to do so much more in and out of the classroom, really hitting the mark in terms of blending digital with traditional learning, so our teachers and students get the best of both worlds.

“The Surface Pro 3 allows us to do so much more in and out of the classroom, really hitting the mark in terms of blending digital with traditional learning, so our teachers and students get the best of both worlds.”

I recently came across research that shows how the brain is built to work differently to the way a normal computer works and it’s important that we recognise that. For too long and with too little forethought we have handed our students technology to help them learn – when it can potentially be a barrier to learning. With Surface, we no longer have those restrictions of only keyboard input.

It has been shown that deeper thinking and creativity is assisted by holding a real drawing tool in our hand. The Stylus has been a big game changer, because it works exactly like a pen and it feels completely natural. It is pressure sensitive and has a range of really useful features, dramatically changing the learning environment.

Student using a Surface Pro 3

With Surface Pro 3 and the Stylus we can do all of the things that we used to do on paper. The way we create, solve problems and brainstorm hasn’t been lost to the world of keyboard only devices. We can still do all of that and so much more.

Miracast can create a fundamental change. The wireless technology allows you to project what’s on the screen to show the whole class, so you are no longer restricted to a tethered device at the front of the room. It can project audio, video and handwriting from anywhere in the room, and then handing this power over to students is as simple as saying “your turn”.

For handwriting lessons, teachers can sit with the students and model how to form the letters and numbers. Teachers can project the student’s work up to the board, so that the other students in the class can see what the others are doing and it allows them to learn from each other.

“With Surface Pro 3 and the Stylus we can do all of the things that we used to do on paper. The way we create, solve problems and brainstorm hasn’t been lost to the world of keyboard only devices. We can still do all of that and so much more.”

The feedback from our teachers has been very positive as they learn to use the device in different ways. The device can leverage learning across all year levels. For example a Prep teacher can use it to teach handwriting, while a senior school Mathematics teacher can use OneNote to coordinate the subject while working in collaboration with several of her colleagues, allowing class preparation to occur transparently while being location independent and always available.

We see the role of technology as a driver of change in the way students learn and the way teachers teach. The Surface allows people to work in the way they think, instead of trying to fit maths, science, languages or art through a keyboard, which just doesn’t work.

We don’t want our teachers to be stuck at the front of the classroom; instead we want them to leverage the power of technology from anywhere, at any time, to change the face of learning at we know it. Surface 3 is successfully bringing this vision to life – what an exciting time to be an educator.

Four Saint Stephens students outside

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