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Monday morning madness

Monday 9th December welcomed a peaceful morning, with Winter sunshine lazily falling through the windows of the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, gilding the Microsoft Education stand. With the Tablets for Schools Conference just an hour from commencing, the Microsoft Education team logistically (and mentally) prepped themselves for what was soon to be an exciting, and, admittedly, slightly frenetic buzz of activity.

By 8.30am, half an hour before the conference officially started, the queue of schools lining up at the Microsoft stand was impressive, and would have potentially challenged that of a Euro Disney roller-coaster ride at the same time in the morning…

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And round the corner…

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Why the queuing?

We are delighted to announce that for the first time, just under 300 schools attending the Tablet for Schools Conference were each given a free Surface RT, complete with touch keyboard, by Microsoft Education to take back to the classroom. You might be asking yourself, why would Microsoft gave away FREE devices? After all, there's no such thing as a free lunch!

Well as it happens, there can be, and the reason is simple - educating the young and talented leaders of the future. We strongly believe that technology can empower students from a young age to have a more equal education, appealing to all the different learning styles, and therefore inspire more young people to grasp opportunities in higher education and pursue fulfilling careers.

To expand, Microsoft Education have heavily invested in providing students around the UK with opportunities to enhance their learning at schools, with resources such as Education Apps to engage learning across the curriculum, Kodu, simple game-creation software using image coding to design games, to DreamSpark which provides students with professional-level coding and programming software to build apps for the Windows 8 store and create games. These resources are simultaneously, importantly designed for teachers to use to populate lessons with fun and engaging tools.

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With an abundance of free solutions available to students and teachers, we are passionate about providing students and teachers with a suitable platform to be able to bring to life these resources in school and beyond, via our flexible work/play Surfaces and Windows 8 devices.

The beauty of the Surface RT and Surface 2 is that not only do they come with great features such as Windows 8/8.1, Office 365 and its fantastic apps (Lync, Word, Excel, OneNote etc), but the tablet will support programmes such as Kodu and Touch Develop for students to directly code and design apps from their Surface. So no longer is there a need to have two devices to work and play!

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The Conference

The Tablet for Schools Conference welcomed in teachers from schools from all over the UK to provide them with practical experience for using tablets in the classroom.

Tablets for Schools have spent two years researching and providing thought leadership on the use of tablets in schools, and their recent Stage 3 report examines their impact.

The conference provided a variety of speeches from the likes of Rt Hon David Blunkett (former Secretary of State for Education), insightful workshops and exhibitioners to educate teachers on the diverse and practical ways that tablets can be used in the classroom and the importance they play in Education today.

The Microsoft Stand

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At the Microsoft Education stand, we demoed some of our most efficient Windows 8 devices, such as the Surface Pro 2, the Lenovo Yoga ultrabook, the Dell XPS DUO 12, the Acer S7 ultrabook and Acer W510P tablet. The delegates were able to see some of the unique Windows 8.1 features such as the 'Split Screen' feature, enabling students and teachers to have two documents/browser pages/apps open at the same time - ideal for researching while writing essays or reports.

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Along with the 300 Surfaces which we gave out to schools, we provided our Surface RT User Guide and usb sticks with some great and useful Microsoft Education resources, whose location are listed below in our Starter Guide:

Opportunities to come and try out Windows 8.1 devices at BETT Show

Microsoft Education will be showcasing at BETT Show from 22nd-25th January at the Excel Centre, where a vast array of our Windows 8.1 devices, Windows 8.1 apps and solutions will all be on show for you to come and try out for yourself.

We look forward to seeing you there!