Students Prefer Smartphones and Laptops to Tablets, Study Finds

When tablets appeared on the market, there were expectations that they would be laptop computers’ greatest competition. That has not turned out to be true at Ball State University, where students see tablets as a form of entertainment—as essentially a bigger and more expensive smartphone, according to a recent study.
Read the complete article at Wired Campus

I spend a lot of time in learning environments as both consumer and producer. I understand why conventional Tablets could be losing favour with students. I have made a point of observing what students are actually doing with their tablets in the hallowed halls of learning. It doesn’t appear that Tablets can meet the full-circle of requirements.

As a frequent student let me share these thoughts with others.  The Surface Pro 2 gives you terrific functionality for content creation, with greater portability than a laptop. The pen and active digitizer is the most flexible and responsive form of input especially in situations where conventional desks are not available. And here is why that is an important consideration.

At the University of British Columbia there is a

Flexible Learning Initiative 

UBC faculty have long been innovative with respect to teaching practice; they have experimented with techniques to increase student engagement in classroom-based activities; they have introduced evidence-based practices to foster skills and higher order learning into the classroom; and they have employed learning technologies to enrich the quality of learning materials, enable opportunities for student interactions, and increase the frequency and impact of assessment both in-class and online.

I’ve witnessed first-hand what a great advantage it is to have a Surface Pro 2 in these environments where the focus is on increased student engagement in classroom-based activities. You can’t park-and-type. Often, there are no desks. There is a lot of action and interaction, thinking and speaking on your feet, shuffling and re-shuffling of groups. In situations like this, having fully a functional pen with active digitizer and all the capabilities of a Windows 8.1 PC is an incomparable advantage.

Perhaps the most striking and relevant issue was how students use the tablet to write efficiently. This included annotating, note taking, drawing and highlighting. The inclusion of an active digitizer that supports pen input is a major advantage for the Surface Pro. Students need to write efficiently, including highlighting/annotating and note taking. The result of the active digitizer built into the device enables one to write smoothly and efficiently on the tablet surface, analogous to writing on paper. Most all tablets, Apple and Android, use a passive digitizer, which makes handwriting on the tablet slow, not terribly accurate, and above all, cumbersome. A student perhaps put it best when she stated , “it’s exactly like writing on paper with the smoothest pen imaginable.” It is no small issue that students need to write efficiently, particularly for active reading, where handwriting inside of the text, highlighting, and coding is an important learning strategy. The advantage of being able to take notes efficiently on the tablet screen is obvious, and universal to the needs of all students.
Source: Microsoft Surface Pro Aligned to the Needs of Students

If you are a student, I encourage you to consider all the environments where you need the functionality of a full Windows PC for content capture (note-taking), research, processing, content-creation (doing assignments, writing papers).  Then get your hands on a Surface Pro 2 and see what you can do.

Presentations Tips: Separate User Account for Presentations

Quick Tip

Create a separate user account for doing presentations. Set all the options in the user account for a distraction free presentation. Switch to that user account before you start your presentation. This is fast and simple and it will keep your presentation from being derailed by a screen saver, unwanted notification, or distracting live tile.

With Windows 8.1 it’s extremely fast to switch user accounts without signing out or closing apps.

    1. Open Start by swiping in from the right edge of the screen and then tapping Start. (Or, if you’re using a mouse, point to the lower-left corner of the screen, move your mouse all the way into the corner, and then click Start.)

    2. Tap or click your account picture, and then choose another account from the menu.


When I‘m doing presentations there are lots of things that I used to do to ensure that the event ran smoothly without distractions. But I found it tedious to go through and do all of them before a presentation, only to have to restore those settings to my usual preferences. So I have all these preferences set in the user account I use for presentations.

Presentation Settings

  • Do a search for present and choose Adjust settings before giving a presentation
  • Make any changes that are appropriate for your situation

Hide Notifications

  • Open the Charms bar and tap Notifications 
  • Hide Notifications for 1, 3,  or  8 hours


Control Notifications Permanently

  • Do a search for notifications and choose Notifications Settings
  • Make any changes that are appropriate for your situation

Turn Live Tiles Off/On

  • On the start screen, right click or press and hold any live tile (e.g. photos, mail, news)
  • Turn live tile off or back on again

Start in the Modern User Interface

  • Arrange tiles into groups
  • Arrange groups

Left-Click and Drag on Surface Type and Touch Covers: Thank You!

It’s a little thing really, but one of the things that the Touch Cover 2 and Type Cover 2 would NOT do – was a simple Left-Click-and-Drag on the Touchpad – and since the Windows 8.1 update it works!  The behaviour is now as it is described in the fourth row below (Left-click and drag).  Try it. You’ll like it.

The screen shot above is from the original online documentation for the Touch Cover 2 and Type Cover 2.  It was subsequently amended when it was found to be incorrect. Until the recent update, you had to press and hold the left touchpad button while dragging with a different finger.

Thank you Microsoft.