From Queensland to Victoria and South Australia, Windows 8 is lighting up Australian schools. Today we saw the Queensland Department of Education & Training reveal that it's rolling out over 14,000 Acer Iconia W701* / Windows 8 tablets to students and teachers. We're also working with a range of schools across Australia who have big plans for thousands of Windows 8 devices.
So, what's behind these moves?
If you've got a child in school, you'd know that the world that they are growing up in is pretty blurred. When I went to school, it started at 9 and finished at about 3.30, followed by a dreary couple of hours of homework (ok, with a little Degrassi Junior High thrown in!) Learning was really structured and it had distinct start and end times. We used desktop PCs but really only to write up assignments and maybe play the odd educational game. All the PCs were in one computer lab and you either had to book time or be in special computer based classes to use them.
Today, as I watch my 5 year old niece, it's a totally different story. She goes to school but it's pretty clear that an education these days isn't just about what you get in the four walls of a school. Learning continues on either side and its more fluid in nature. My niece lives on technology - she is always on my sister's Surface and she is constantly consuming content. And her learning is personal. It's not about one size fits all. She knows far more about the world then I would have known at that age. In fact, she probably knows more about the world than I do now.
When you think about learning in that context, it's clear Aussie kids need technology tools that are going to be just as flexible, adaptive and personal. I love that Windows 8 is about embracing all of those worlds and scenarios and importantly, meeting student expectations around having fun and exciting technology. No kid wants to use a daggy device!
The Acer Iconia fits the bill perfectly. It's an example of a device that pushes design boundaries and is highly versatile. On one hand it's a creation machine. It has a built in keyboard that enables a student or teacher to enjoy the full PC experience, say when they're in the classroom taking notes and creating assignments. But flip it around and it converts into an entirely different device. All of sudden, it's a tablet with a tailor made user interface that's personal to every student. Used as a tablet, it becomes about touch, mobility, surfing the net, watching videos, playing games and doing things on the move. It doesn't just bridge boundaries, it breaks them to give students a no compromise device.
And as QLD DET chief information officer David O’Hagan says, the tablets are going to enable students to have interactive learning experiences all around campus.
Meanwhile there are many behind the scenes benefits. Can you imagine what sort of job an IT admin has managing 14,000+ devices? Well, Queensland went down the Windows 8 route because the devices integrated into and leveraged existing IT infrastructure, while also giving schools the ability to manage their IT systems with ease, speed and at minimal cost. They also wanted enterprise-ready security, reliability and management fundamentals that would enable schools to save money and time by reducing IT and ongoing maintenance costs.
Next time you're thinking about a new device for youself or your kids, take a good look at all the options - there is fantastic choice and opportunity to personalise when it comes to Windows 8 devices.
*The Iconia W701 offers full HD video playback on a large 11.6” multi-touch display, powered by a blisteringly fast Intel Core i5 processor, Intel HD graphics, 4GB memory and 128GB solid state storage.