Choosing a Device for my own 21st Century Learner

Guest Post by Nikkie Laing

School starts again for the year in a few weeks and as a family we have the option of providing our 11 year old with a mobile device for school to help support her learning. We are in boots and all! The benefits of being able to connect and collaborate with other learners both within and beyond a school day are already clearly evident to us.

For us the hardest part is not choosing whether to participate it’s deciding which device suits best. You would think that as a teacher and e-learning leader this would be easy! Having seen a wide range of devices over the past year and having been lucky enough to trial a few in my classroom, the perfect choice should be obvious. The introduction of a range cheaper windows devices from Microsoft OEM partners in the later part of 2014 has meant that we now have more choices than ever before. Access to Microsoft Office 365 Student Advantage is within reach and Office 365 is already part of our everyday learning lives. However, as parents we want to be realistic about resourcing her, we want to make sure it meets her needs but also our budget.

One of the key ideas that keeps resonating with me is the research I was first introduced to during a presentation for Microsoft in Education Experts last year about the pen vs keyboard (see video above). It started here with research from Mueller and Oppenheimer that The Pen is Mightier that the Keyboard and then onto further reading about the use of digital pens and ink in classrooms such as Computer Interfaces and their Impact on Learning. My own experience tells me that thinking with a pen, makes more sense than thinking with a keyboard. A pen lets me record my ideas in a free flow, messy way. Much more reflective of my thinking processes. I can scribble, jot, rub out, link ideas, highlight main ideas quickly and easily change tact. When I’m using a keyboard I want things to be linear and sequential. No doubt a keyboard is great for organising my ideas after that initial thinking is done.

As a classroom teacher, I know that much of the thinking that goes on in classrooms is not logical and sequential. I also know that the process of thinking is critical to learning and understanding. There has been a noticeable pedagogical shift towards sharing the process of learning with each other. Sharing thinking and learning processes is important, being able to explain how and why each learner chooses to do things in a particular way helps to deepen understanding for all learners.

As a member of the Microsoft in Education Expert Educator Community I came across this easy to read guide Buying a Device for School which helped cement my thinking. I found this Intel guide useful too. So in summary we are committed to finding a device with all the normal things you would expect from a device intended for classroom use e.g, lightweight, robust, a long battery life, decent performance were going to be necessary as well as a touchscreen, keyboard and digitised pen. Surely they are everywhere right? And at a price that suits an 11 year old owner?…


Guest Post by

Nikkie Laing – Opaheke School, Auckland, New Zealand

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Nikkie has wide ranging classroom and leadership experience having taught across all levels of Primary School, Years 1 – 8. She is currently e-Learning Leader and a Senior Teacher at Opaheke School. Nikkie has a particular interest in developing e-learning skills and capabilities within schools.  Using collaborative tools such as Office 365 to promote engagement and personalise learning for students has quickly become a passion.  Nikkie has recently joined the Microsoft Innovative Educators Expert Programme to further develop her commitment to developing future focussed skills with learners. She is always keen to collaborate with others and share her knowledge of classroom related digital technologies. Nikkie currently lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband Philip and children, Amélie, Henry and Mathilde.