Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tips for Using Windows 8 in the Classroom

Myth: Windows 8 is scary and there's nothing out there for my classroom!
Reality: Windows 8 is intuitive and there is an ever-growing list of apps and web-enabled apps that work wonders!

Windows 8 Offers an Immersive Student Learning Experience 
Windows 8 helps schools improve educational outcomes, bring learning to life, and build 21st century skills.  Students interact with devices that have been specifically designed for both touch and mouse, mirroring their real-life experiences and supporting both personalized and collaborative learning inside and outside of the classroom. 

As schools increasingly move to digital content, apps are playing an important role. The Windows 8 app library for schools now includes popular products such as BrainPOP®, Khan Academy®, and Stack the States™, as well as digital textbooks and innovative new apps such as CK-12© math and science, iTooch, and 21st Century Learning Design. 

Many apps are available at no charge, and many have been developed first for Windows 8, with extensive 

support for Common Core and state standards. 

Utilize Award-winning Content Across the Curriculum 
The award-winning BrainPOP apps provide schools with free as well as subscription-based content on topics across the curriculum. They are aligned to Common Core and state standards and are searchable by topic or standard, with special apps available for K-3, ESL, and Spanish-speaking students. Teachers use BrainPOP to introduce a new lesson or topic, illustrate complex subject matter, or review information before a test, while also getting support through a free online learning community. Students find the BrainPOP movies and interactive activities highly engaging. 

Many Free Interactive Video Tutorials 
Khan Academy, another highly regarded app now available to Windows 8 schools, provides free access to high-quality video tutorials and assessments on math, science, and history. It brings lessons to life even for tough topics like advanced geometry and gives teachers great visibility into student progress. Students practice at their own pace, with problems broken down into detailed steps.  According to Anthony Salcito in a 2012 Microsoft in Education blog post, “Khan Academy is beautifully suited for the features of Windows 8. For example, while watching a video tutorial online or downloaded and used offline, students can take notes on their  computer or multitask on another project. Khan Academy for Windows 8 is designed to meet the learning realities of students head-on.”    

Math and Science Help Galore
An exciting new product line for Windows 8 schools looking to enhance the STEM curriculum comes from CK-12 Foundation.  These free high-quality math and science apps personalize learning and avoid the cost of quickly outdated print textbooks.  Rich content aligned to Common Core standards includes customizable digital textbooks called Flexbooks®.  Over 5,000 STEM concepts are available in different modalities such as video, practice, assessment, and real-world applications; collaborative class and study groups; and interactive practice.  According to Margo Day, Vice President, U.S. Education, Microsoft Corp, "These new CK-12 STEM applications for Windows 8 will make learning STEM subjects more engaging and personalized for the needs of individual students across the nation.”    

Oodles of New Apps just for Windows 8
Many applications designed specifically for schools are now being built first for Windows 8. Called the Teacher Collection, these apps take full advantage of Windows 8 functionality. They include:

  • 21st Century Learning Design, a collaborative project with Microsoft that assesses content against the six dimensions of 21st century learning
  • Markbook, for creating complex assessments and detailed reports
  • Lesson Plan Manager, for creating, delivering, and reporting on lessons
  • Scaffolder, for mapping out assessments, projects, or processes and exporting to other formats 
  • Random Student, for selecting individual students or groups 
Digital Textbooks Come to Windows 8
More and more eTextbooks are now available on Windows 8, from 
leading publishers such as Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 
McGraw-Hill, Chegg®, Kno™, and Adaptive Curriculum™. Students 
can search content, watch videos, interact with simulations, 
access web links, create personal study guides, and more.  
The expanding Windows 8 app library for schools supports a 
21st century learning environment and creates an immersive 
experience for students with a full range of functionality. Educators 
can meet new curriculum standards and requirements for 
online testing, while ensuring secure content management. 

I have worked with a number of different Windows 8 desktops, laptops and tablets.  Here are my recommendations for excellent hardware to run Windows 8 in your classroom!

The ASUS ME400C is a powerful, light and easy to use Windows 8 Tablet that runs the full version of Windows 8.
The Microsoft Surface RT is a great alternative that runs the Windows 8 RT version of the Operating System.

Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 17 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has been a classroom teacher for various subjects.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

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