Stacey Watkins, 22, is a student in Information and Communications Technology at Birmingham City University.
As an extra-curricular enthusiast and a Windows 8 Go-to student ambassador, I was keen to find out Stacey’s view regarding tablets on campus. How tablets are being used by university students – the where, when and how. In Stacey’s words…
I don’t think a laptop offers any functionality for a student that a tablet cannot do anymore. I think tablets are becoming the new laptops, an increasing number of students are now bringing tablets to university rather than laptops. A prime example of using a tablet – for example the Surface – as a student is using Office 365 when typing up all-important reports and assignments. I see students working with an Xbox music motivational playlist they’ve created on the side to try and get them in the zone. It can be skipped, paused and changed in just a touch.
When they’ve spent time (procrastinating!) by changing tracks, a student can then go to Internet Explorer to find that piece of research they have been meaning to do. There is no need to change windows on a Surface when you’ve forgotten what part of the study you require, IE and your assignment are sitting next to each other and you can Bing search and type seamlessly. The beauty of apps being snapped side-by-side on a Surface makes it quick and easy to multitask – crucial for a deadline time pressured student! I also see the tablet function of game playing a lot around university. Students have told me they choose the iPad because of the vast amount of apps in the app store, using their iPad to play games in-between lectures - even in lectures too when bored. The Windows store also offers great quality apps for the Surface.
At Campus Party Europe we had Microsoft Student Partners programming apps and developing games in the full version of Visual Studio live on Surface Pros. In comparison to a laptop, the Surface tablet is much more practical in size and weight. This makes the tablets portability more favourable when carrying it around campus between lectures or on the go. The beauty of having the full version of Windows 8 on tablet means you can install everything you need for university (such as Office 365 as a desktop app). You don’t need a tablet for fun and a laptop for work anymore.
In terms of creating a beautiful experience, every time I turn my Surface on I feel I get a beautiful experience. As a student I like to do things quickly and easily, so my live tiles on my Surface tell me everything about the day ahead without me having to open an app or browser. This includes the weather for the day, my social media notifications, how many emails I have, my next appointment in my calendar app and even live BBC/Bing news feeds. All this information is constantly updating on my start screen, which is not only useful but makes my tablet look really alive and personal. To me this creates much more of a beautiful experience than a static home screen.
Looking forward, I think a really bizarre but useful tablet feature for a student could be a mini projector built into the back of the device. This would be amazing for students when presenting work, and when doing set tasks as a group. It would also be a great thing to have when watching a film during time off studies!
Check out Stacey’s personal blog: http://staceywindows8ambassadorbcu.tumblr.com/.
It’s September, it’s time to head back to University after a great three month summer. This year you’re prepared: you’re armed with a laptop or tablet running Windows 8.
You've been using it for fun and games over summer, but now it's time to get serious – you’ve got something in your hands designed for connectivity, that will make learning that much more interesting.
It’s that time. Fresher’s excitement is over and lectures are beginning. Here are six ways in which Windows 8 can help you.
1. Organising your study time
The best students are often the most organised ones. They will spend enough time studying, while leaving time free for society events, sports club training and big nights out. That's why on the most basic level, the default Windows 8 calendar app on your start screen is key. You can keep track of what you're doing using month, week or two-day views, notifying yourself about appointments when necessary.
If you want an organiser app specifically aimed at students, a good choice is My Study Life. This stores lectures and tasks (such as assignments details and revision) in the cloud. Because the data is synced, you can access this information using Windows phone or a web application. Having the potential to access your information on any device or platform is important, there will always be times you won't have your gadgets with you.
2. Recording your notes and keeping track
So you’ve got your timetable sorted and know where you need to be during the days, weeks and months ahead. It’s now time to get down to lectures and seminars, and you need to start noting down information as you go. If you're a digital native, you might prefer typing notes to writing them. There's a free Windows 8 app for that: OneNote.
OneNote isn't just a glorified word processor – there are numerous features to assist you in creating and organising notes.
· It lets you draw in your notes with a device pen or finger using a compatible device
· It works in the cloud, meaning you shouldn’t be losing information
· It lets you organise the notes the way you want, crucial during exam time
· It works with Windows 8 search, so you can find that vital note quickly
3. Reading and research
The problem with physical books is that you have to carry them. Academic books can often be clunky and heavy–particularly when you have several to carry. And how frustrating is it when you need a certain book for an essay which isn't available, as it’s already been checked out by one of the 400 students in your department?
Many forward-thinking educational institutions are offering e-books for purchase or loan. To read them, there are already several book readers available for Windows 8 such as Kindle, Nook and Kobo. Because these books are held in the cloud, you have the option of reading them on different devices. And with eBook Treasures, you can see original books from authors like William Shakespeare and Jane Austen.
If you're looking for information on the web, you can browse using Internet Explorer 10 which is optimised for touch-screen tablets. If you'd rather look up information through an app, Windows 8 also offers Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica to look for knowledge.
4. Writing your essays
We’ve all heard the traditional incomplete assignment excuses – the student portal crashed, computer corrupted, notes left in your best mates halls, etc. . . . With Office 365, losing your work shouldn’t be an issue due to it working in the cloud.
· Office 365 is cloud-based, so all your documents are held there. If the worst happens to your computer, you’ll still be able to access your files from elsewhere.
· Students can subscribe to Office 365 for four years at a special rate of £1.25 per month, allowing you to install Office 365 on two PCs or Macs, as well as two mobile devices.
· If you happen to be using a PC without a copy of Office 365 installed, such as a library, you can still use Office through Office on Demand, a streamed version of Office 365.
5. Communication with your loved ones
Email is vital for communication while at University, and the Windows 8 email app is available for use straight from the start screen. Here you can add different email accounts, such as Outlook.com, Gmail and Yahoo, which means it's the only email client you'll ever need to use.
If you're living away from home, Skype is a great way to communicate with friends and family, using real-time messaging, phone or video call. Windows 8.1 will have Skype tightly integrated – so you won't have to download the app because it'll be part of the Start Screen Line-Up.
The majority of University students use social media for communication. Windows 8 has a Twitter app which offers the same Home, Connect, Discover and Me tabs you'll find on a browser, but which also makes use of Windows 8 features such as Snap view, photos and Live Tiles and notifications.
6. Leisure Time
Once your day of study is out the way, it’s time for the second University past time - to have some fun! Windows 8 is great for that – cook up a great meal for your flatmates using the Great British Chefs app, or host a great pre-drinks with Cocktail Flow map. You can also keep the parents back home happy by keeping a close eye on finances – use financial apps such as the NatWest app to keep track of your money.
Enjoy semester 1!
We worked long and hard at Campus Party with some Microsoft Student Partners, Games Ambassadors and Windows Ambassadors helping us – in fact it wouldn’t have been possible without their help and they were all excellent . They worked their buxxs off and demo’d the latest technology, spoke to students about what’s possible and had a lot of fun. Here’s Josh Naylor's account – a Games Developer from Hull Uni. I have added some links to others at the bottom!
Now that I’ve finally caught up on my sleep I thought I’d write up my experience of Campus Party Europe at the o2 where I’ve been for the whole of last week representing Microsoft.
So Campus Party is…
“An annual week long, 24-hours-a-day technology festival where thousands of “Campuseros” (hackers, developers, gamers and technophiles), equipped with laptops, camp on-site and immerse themselves in a truly unique environment“.
This year in London at the amazing o2 arena where the festival features over 500 hours of talks, debates, workshops, competitions and hackathons related to science, innovation, digital entertainment and creativity.
Yes you read that right, “camp on site” below is a picture of my home for a week. 1 of 2000 tents erected in the David Beckham football centre 10 minute walk away from the O2. You’d think it was good been indoors but the smell sometimes said otherwise.
It was the ambassadors and interns jobs to man the Microsoft stand for the week and give demos and show off the hardware, software and the Xbox One!!
I volunteered for the game development stand and was demoing unity for the week and the new visual studio plugin with integrates everything we love about visual studio into unity. All this on a surface pro (the middle one) as well as demoing Windows 8 on the RT’s provided to us (see my pretty unicorn picture)
I was so surprised how many people have never used Unity before and even more by the amount of people who had never even heard of it or of the current competition when making windows 8 and windows phone 8 games in unity. Up to $30,000 can be won. http://unity3d.com/contest/windows
My shifts covered 9am – 4pm everyday so I had a lot of time to check out what the rest of the festival had to offer such as talks in the arena itself about digital confidence. Hull Uni’s very own Rob Miles gave a talk about Windows Phone development too. There was so much to see and do at the workshops too and got to watch some cool case modding as well as an RT get modded with a fallout theme.
It was a pretty amazing week, and I worked with some really awesome people. I became an honorary Lithuania one of the evenings (I doubt I’ll ever see those photos now) and witnessed an awesome German drinking game which we named Mugabe Ball (long story). As well as realising how mental Spaniards are in the early hours. All the days seemed to merge into one with the lack of sleep but it’s all cool because we were informed we got to keep our Surface RT’s and 920’s on the final day. A nice little birthday gift. Hopefully I’ll be taking part again next year.
Many thanks to the Microsoft and Momentum guys for the week, it was awesome!
Dene Palmer’s blog http://denepalmer.azurewebsites.net/index.php/campus-party-europe-2013-at-the-o2-with-microsoft/
James Croft’s blog http://www.jamescroft.co.uk/blog/technology/tech-filled-week-campus-party-europe/
Danny Brown’s blog http://dannycomputerscientist.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/campus-party-europe-in-london/