It ISTE I had the opportunity to meet with the Microsoft Education and Product teams to learn about their new education focused tablet that they released today, July 10th.
Meet the Surface Go.
This product intrigues me. It should be noted that I didn't have time for an extensive demo, or receive one on loan for long term testing. With that said I wanted to highlight a few points that excite me. I believe this device has great potential. It is a step in the right direction for so many reasons. I hope to see schools adopting this device and actually using it like the powerful tablet it has the potential to be. In the spirit of creativity and the future of technology I think these 3 points are important topics of discussion in EdTech today.
1. Tablets are not the future, but they are the bridge to get there. Anyone who will say that a laptop is the future is welcomed to be left in the past. If you're an industry professional that requires serious computing power, then for that small percentage of users, any tablet doesn't make sense even the iPad Pro. I love my iPad Pro but it doesn't run Final Cut Pro X or high end design programs like those from Adobe. For most users, a machine that has a giant and permanent keyboard stuck to it, weighing it down is not a future oriented device in a world that thirsts for mobility and agility.
2. If devices should be smart, so should their pens and pencils. Many were initially critical of the Apple Pencil because of Job's disdain for the traditional stylus. It is clear now, that the Pencil is a massive leap in a creative direction and Microsoft is doing well in that space too with their Surface Pen. While nothing can match the Apple Pencil (sorry!), and I have tried a good 10 different bluetooth pens, the Surface Pen is great! The feel, the weight, and the response are all high quality. The pushing in of the tip on the tablet surface does bothers me a bit but it makes up for it with great pressure sensitivity. Longterm, I might even stop noticing that issue but it was notices the moment I used it. Today's devices need to have a high quality drawing and documenting tool. Not that everyone needs to become the next Picasso, but the power of visual thinking, sketch noting, and prototyping are ALL skills our students are going to need to engage in to be ready for what the future holds. Those skills are evergreen and have existed since cave paintings. It's the tools that are letting more and more of us find opportunities and access to reveal our creative power.
3. Student creativity trumps IT management. As Director of Eductional Technology, I oversaw my IT team and personally spent dozens of hours making my life more difficult to ensure my students success went before my managerial convenience. With nearly two thousand devices in our database including over 500 iPads, I could have made the easy IT decision but chose to put students first. This is a personal opinion of course but I am much more interested in companies creating high quality creative devices at an affordable price than how easy I can control the student devices, lock them down, or manage them with ease. Take this third point with a grain of salt.
What is still missing with the Surface Go and Microsoft 10?
The device isn't perfect but it is a great step in a creative direction. What is missing for me is a more robust video creation platform. Windows Movie Maker is on par with the MS Paint of yesteryear and makes it hard to take serious. I also didn't enjoy the sketch noting experience with OneNote as much as my regular iOS native app experiences and certainly Paper by FiftyThree, my all time favorite drawing app.
The Microsoft Surface Go can be pre-ordered starting July 10th at $399 MRSP with a keyboard, pen, and mouse. More info here.
Ok Apple, the balls in your court.