How Surface 3 is changing the way students and teachers work at Wymondham High

The following post comes courtesy of Kevin Sait, Head of IT Strategy at Wymondham High Academy, and looks the impact the Surface 3 has had on teachers and students.

For device specification and to find an authorised reseller please visit Surface in education.


It can sometimes be a risk when something new comes on the market for a school to invest in, however when the opportunity to become a Surface 3 Early Adopter landed at the schools door from Microsoft, I knew it was something Wymondham High Academy needed to be a part of.

Surface 3 for a school really is the evolution of design and pricing wrapped in one device and really forms the 'last part' of an implementation plan to allow teachers to 'teach with technology' and to empower them to deliver engaging lessons to students across the curriculum.

I have been a great fan of the Surface Pro 3 device since last December. It really is the portability of my office desktop PC in the something smaller and lighter than my work laptop. It has a full 'touch keyboard' and more importantly the Surface pen.

Why is this important to me? Well this 'surfaced' (excuse the pun) on a recent training course, a colleague from a primary school was sitting next to me, who in their bag had both a laptop and an iPad. When I asked 'why both?' the answer was, 'all of our staff have a laptop because we can’t type our reports on an iPad’. Needless to say he was very impressed with the Surface Pro 3, all in one nature and especially the size of the device.

So our first batch of Surfaces were rolled to a batch of teachers and students in school, and here is some of the feedback we have been given, which only cements my belief in the Surface 3 being the right choice for education.

Nicholas McGee is a Year 11 student who has been using Surface 3 for the past couple of months:

Wymondam Surface 3-1

“Wow, well talk about a machine perfect for a student! I've been using my surface, which was kindly lent to me via my school, for a while and it has been an amazing time. I am 16 and have just finished my GCSEs, and I don't think I could have got through my exams without the help of OneNote and my Surface. The moment I got my Surface I gave back my laptop and it became one of my main devices. Using OneNote and the amazing pen I have been able to revise efficiently by making notes, doing past papers and accessing the interwebs! The pen is a massive help because it has made me able to retain the information better and has helped me get into the exam feel even though I was using technology.

Also now I have finished my GCSEs I am working as a technician at school and the Surface is just as amazing as it was when I was a student. It has the processing power that means I can work at ease and is portable so I can take around school when fixing problems.

Overall the surface has been a huge change to my technological environment and has helped me through the last few months of my GCSEs.”

Next up is Andrew Howard who is a NQT IT teacher, Andrew has found the use of the Surface 3 and the Microsoft Wireless Adapter empowering to use Office 365 in the classroom:

Wymondam Surface 3-2

“The life of a work a day teacher often involves lugging around countless folders and papers for marking or reviewing. Now add into the mix a full size laptop, some text books and you have the perfect recipe for a bulging bag and an aching back.

Enter the Surface 3, a lightweight laptop replacement. The first thing I noticed whilst trialing this machine was a dramatic reduction in the weight of my work bag. This may seem a small thing, but if you work in different classrooms in a large school, this is a huge advantage. Gone are the days of racing around the school like a demented hunchback, now you can get to your next lesson with a jaunty step and a straight back.

The next pleasant surprise was that the Surface 3 comes with the full version of Windows 8.1, so within minutes I was happily downloading my favourite coding software, installing python and cracking on with marking students’ code. Having the full version of Windows 8.1 means that this is a seriously viable laptop replacement, especially with the snap on keyboard.

In the class room the Surface 3 is also a great teaching tool, particularly when matched with a Mira cast box. This frees you from your desk, allowing you more interaction with the students, whilst never skipping a beat with your lesson presentation. This gives more time for individualised verbal feedback and demonstrating students work on the board becomes effortless. A final plus point is that this increased mobility is also great for behaviour management, no more hiding at the back of the classroom for the students!

To sum up, the Surface 3 has definitely helped me in my day to day teaching; having such a portable device is not to be underestimated. I believe this can only lead to better and more innovative teaching.”

Nia Preston is a Year 9 student who has been using Surface 3 to replace a number of folders that she would traditionally carry around with her!

Wymondam Surface 3-3

“I think the Surface 3 is a really great device and is perfect for education. The fact that it's is both a tablet and a laptop is incredibly helpful as it means I can use and download apps that are made for PC's but on a smaller more potable tablet device.

The use of the pen means that I can handwrite my notes rather than typing them. This is great because the ability to handwrite notes helps them stick in my brain. I can doodle whilst I work, this helps my though process but because I can rub it out, it doesn't mess up my notes. The ability to get rid of mistakes means I can go through notes quicker when revising and keep everything tidy. I love the screen clipping device, this is one of the most useful tools.

I have had the Surface 3 for only a few weeks and I have found that my want to learn and my ability to retain and remember information has improved dramatically. The Surface is a fun and great way to learn meaning that what you write and record stays with you. Personally I'd rate it a 9/10 🙂 “

As you can see this is simply a device I have given to a student / teacher, not domain joined, no lengthy GPO's to contend with. People simply connect with Office 365 and OneNote to use the device as a real productivity tool. On one side is the power of the Surface Pro 3, the real ability to have your laptop and desktop in a truly portable device, on the other side I would have to describe myself as not a power user. I don’t do PhotoShop or InDesign, I don’t program in Visual Studio. I use Microsoft Office 365, I browse the web and I use apps.

Wymondam Surface 3-4

Therefore the Surface 3 being slightly smaller allows me to be truly portable and I guess it’s just a bit more ‘carryable’ than the Surface pro 3 around the school. Having put a 64gb Micro SD card to increase the storage on the device, I can sync my cloud storage and take my work with me. I am currently running the Windows 10 Technical Preview on my Surface 3 which allows me to road test the latest apps from the Windows store.

So it is indeed a tricky choice, the Surface Pro 3 with its size and power, the Surface 3, compact and powerful for teachers to deliver empowering lessons to students. For our teachers Surface 3 is the natural choice - staff are quite happy to give back a school laptop and enjoy connecting Surface with Office 365 and the Microsoft Wireless Adapter. This really means teachers can become facilitators of learning by using the technology more fluently – these are exciting times.

I leave you with an interesting quote from Spooner Row School after using the Surface in the Year 5/6 class.

“After using the Surface in the classroom, it really is the device that fosters communication and collaboration in our school – the iPad may well be the wrong device for our requirements”

These really are changing times.

- Kevin Sait



Surface 3 is available with a 10% educational discount from the following authorised resellers:

CCS Media

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