Today's digital natives are not only adapting to the quick pace of change in technology, but embracing it. Technology is a part of their daily lives, and it will – without question – be a huge part of their careers after graduation. So how do schools ensure students are well prepared for the world outside of the classroom?
Today's most effective classrooms are places where students can help design their own learning paths using individualized content, devices and styles. And for innovative schools like these, Windows 10 has put them on the road to better, safer and more engaged learning and teaching.
Recently, Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President of Windows and Devices, shared that Windows 10 has reached its next milestone, as the first major update to Windows 10 is now available for PCs and tablets. With this update, there are improvements that will be important to many of our customers, such as the new Windows Store for Business. We wanted to share some stories of education customers who have already started with Windows 10 and will be among the earliest to benefit from the updates Myerson announced.
Saving time, money and resources
At Thomas College, a private school in Maine, the school's 1200 student all use devices. And with the school's transition to Windows 10 to this year, they use them on a very personal level – whether that's through touch, type, writing or speech.
"We feel it's our obligation to give students hands-on experience with the latest tools, services, apps, and devices available-the same ones used by professionals in the real world," says Christopher Rhoda, Vice President for Information Services and CIO at Thomas College. "We have a very high job placement rate — approximately 94 percent of our graduates are hired in their field of study within 90 days of graduating."
So updating to a new operating system – one that would give its students the critical technology skills they need to succeed in today's expanding digital landscape – was a priority.
The college looked for an easy-to-use solution that would enable fast browsing, facilitate collaboration, accommodate different learning styles, and provide strong security without over-burdening the IT staff. And they wanted it all without a large financial investment.
"Since Windows 10 was a free upgrade and also part of our volume licensing agreement, we had no cost issues, and more importantly, I didn't want to engage in a complicated deployment and training situation," says Rhoda, adding, "While our plan was to finish by the end of December, deployment was so easy that we finished three months ahead of schedule."
The campus-wide roll out is setting students up for success, while helping the school save time and money. Overall, Rhoda and his team believe Windows 10 is the right solution for their needs.
"Windows 10 is enhancing education throughout the institution," says Rhoda. "And it's important that our students get hands-on experience with the same emerging tools that many professionals use. Our upcoming graduates are using Windows 10, Office 2016, and Office 365, often before their future employer, so they can help that employer make the transition, too."
"Windows 10 supports learning, business development, and efficiencies across our school. It's the best version yet."
– Christopher Rhoda, Vice President for Information Services and CIO, Thomas College
Upgrading the way to a more creative curriculum
"Everyone talks about 21st century learning and what our children need for the future," says Tom Rees, head teacher at Simon de Senlis Primary School, a Microsoft Showcase School in the UK. "For us it's about our children shaping the future and being creative with it and there's so much that they need to know that sits outside of a formal curriculum: ways to work together, ways to use technology to communicate, to be creative. That's really what we're about."
So when Windows 10 was released in the summer, the team at Simon de Senlis felt the timing was perfect to upgrade their students' devices – they just didn't realize how easy it would be.
"The adoption of Windows 10 has been really straightforward," says Rees. "We worried about upgrade times and we worried whether [the devices] would be ready, would they run. But in the summer we kind of bit the bullet and upgraded all the student devices…and it's been great — we've had no problems. It was all done in just a couple of days with one technician on-site, and we don't need a service pack."
The free upgrade has not only meant a huge savings in time and money for Simon de Senlis, it's given the students and teachers the freedom to explore through Microsoft Office 365, OneNote, OneDrive, Microsoft Edge and Cortana – all with increased security features.
For 6th grade teacher Charlotte Coade, Windows 10 changed the dynamics of her classroom. "You will see students working together collaboratively, sharing ideas through Office 365 and working on their own," says Coade. "And right next to them, there are children who are leading others, sharing their knowledge and helping push everyone forward."
While it's still early days for Coade and her students, it's already clear that Windows 10 is living up to her – and her students' – expectations.
"Microsoft Office 365 has inspired my children to be really resilient learners. It poses so many different dynamics that maybe the children haven't come across before. So it's down to them to really explore how to overcome those challenges. They're able to succeed within the lesson and outside of it as well."
– Charlotte Coade, 6th Grade Teacher, Simon de Senlis Primary School
Leveling the playing field
At Shireland Collegiate Academy, an inner-city school in the UK – and a Microsoft Showcase School, over 60 different languages are spoken, many by students who have just recently arrived in the country.
"Our children come from very economically deprived backgrounds and so what we try to do is find things that level the playing field," says Sir Mark Grundy, Executive Principal. "And one of the things that we've used really successfully to level the playing field is technology."
Shireland Collegiate Academy is a 1:1 secondary school, and with their recent adoption of Windows 10 on their Surface devices, technology has not only allowed students with limited English to move as quickly as some of the English-speaking students, it has enabled them to excel. Whether it's through playing Minecraft in class, coding with Visual Studio, using Sway and OneNote, or mastering Office 365, students at Shireland Collegiate are engaged in their learning – and look to their future.
"I just like the challenge of problem solving," says Dana, a 12th grade student at Shireland who has been inspired by her computer science classes and using Visual Studio. "I feel really accomplished after I manage to do something – after failing several times – and then it finally works. It's really satisfying. If Shireland wouldn't have provided me with all the Microsoft technology…I wouldn't have been able to do programming. So I'm really thankful for this opportunity that they gave me."
"Some students might not be good at math, some might not be good at English, some might not be good at design. But when they come to a class that uses Office 365, we can tailor our lessons a lot more easily, quickly and more effectively to suit their needs, which does keep them much more focused in the class."
– Elfyn Wynjones, teacher, Shireland Collegiate Academy
Seamless integration, whole-school success
Arnhem Wharf Primary School in London was ready for a full-school technology refresh: their school-wide desktops running Windows 7 and Windows XP were old and slow. School administrators planned to upgrade to Windows 8…that is, until the date of the Windows 10 launch became known .
The whole-school adoption of Windows 10 was initially met with some concern. Would it be stable? Would there be sufficient support if they have problems? But after administrators and IT staff discussed pros and cons, the decision to move to Windows 10 was made.
"It took two to three weeks and we finished in mid-August, ready for the school returning in early September," says Melvyn Akins, the technical lead for Arnhem Wharf. The installation, he adds, has been very straightforward. "It's the first Windows 10 set up we've done, and apart from one or two small issues, the actual fundamentals of the process have been seamless."
And best of all for students and teachers? The school's archaic computer lab is now obsolete. With 70 new Lenovo desktop machines for teachers and administrators, and 165 Lenovo laptops for the students, classes are now run in a 1:1 fashion.
"With the number of laptops available, they are promoting the use of ICT in the classroom at many more points throughout the learning week as opposed to bringing children to a computer room for lessons," adds Akins. "As a result they have decommissioned [the computer lab] to put in a food technology lab."
Put the power of Windows 10 to work for your school. You can learn more about Windows 10 for Education, and find information on how to join these schools who have found that Windows delivers the best computing environment for education, with the personal experiences that students and teachers love, and the management tools that administrators need. With a free upgrade for qualified Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices and tools to help you and your educators, there's no better time to get started with the best Windows yet.