What if every child started out their first day at school on a level academic playing field? The Kent School District is taking steps to do just this with its ‘One Student-One Device’ program. In an effort to give students access to advanced technology and devices, they became an early adopter of Windows 10, piloting the new operating system in four of its K-12 schools over this past school year. The pilot recently ended and the district has already started distributing Windows 10 PCs to all of its elementary-school libraries. It expects to install Windows 10 on all 24,000 devices in the school district by the start of the 2016/2017 school year.
As a former teacher, one of my passions is to figure out how technology can enable students to be successful in the classroom, and help teachers do less ‘teching’ and more teaching. Kent is a great example of a district that is using technology to empower its teachers and students to be more efficient and productive so they can focus on learning. When Kent School District started its pilot it had two key goals: use technology to transform its classrooms and at the same time to streamline IT management. Following the district’s upgrade to Windows 10 and distribution of HP laptops and Microsoft Surface Pro 3 devices to students from kindergarten to sixth grade, the students became more engaged and performed better academically, helping build community support for technology in the classroom. At the same time, the district was able to reduce IT costs.
By upgrading to Windows 10, Kent replaced its previous process of manually refreshing each device, simplifying the demands on its IT department. They’ve also taken advantage of the free online services and productivity tools for teachers and students with Office 365 Education, which has lowered total cost of ownership. “Upgrading to Windows 10 has actually been a way to get extra life out of our devices,” said Stosh Morency, interim CIO, Kent School District. “It’s not intuitive to think you can put a newer operating system on an older computer and it will actually run better. Because of some of these benefits, we’ve extended our four-year refresh cycle to five years for some of the devices.” When we asked Stosh and his team how much savings they think they’ve seen, Morency added, “If you purchase a couple million dollars of computers in a year, and you skip a year of doing that, it adds up quickly.”
Take a look at how the Kent School District and its teachers and students are benefiting from Windows 10 and Office 365 functionality in their schools by reading their full case study here.
The Surface devices in particular have been game-changing based on functionality like pen and inking that other devices don’t offer.
The teachers and students who have been using the Windows 10 devices at the four pilot schools have found new ways to work and learn, based on their personal working styles. The Surface devices in particular have been game-changing based on functionality like pen and inking that other devices don’t offer. Some students use the Surface Pro 3 like a laptop, while others prefer the touchscreen in tablet mode. Kindergarteners use the Surface Pen and touchscreen to learn how to write letters.
Students in the fourth through sixth grades use inking and Scratch Space in Microsoft OneNote to draw out math problems and shapes for geometry lessons. Students in all grade levels in Kent now use OneNote to collaborate on team research projects, track assignments, share writing projects with teachers and get feedback in real time. They use PowerPoint Online and Sway to create visually engaging reports.
“In 6th grade your penmanship should be readable and I have a few students that really struggle with their hand-eye coordination and just writing something that I can even read,” shared Amanda Gallegos, Sixth Grade Teacher, Fairwood Elementary School. “It’s amazing when they were given a Surface device how much more confident they are just simply using the setting where you can use your stylus and it transforms it to typing.”
“We’ve seen tremendous gains in specific students,” says Aubrey Buerstatte, Librarian and Technology Specialist at Horizon Elementary School. “When teachers help students set up a personalized program on a Surface Pro 3 running Windows 10, we see an improved level of excitement and test scores.”
Another big hope for Kent School District is to be able to send devices home with students over the summer. Typically, the devices sit on a shelf during the summer months while they’re reimaged for the next school year, which leads to a dip in technical proficiency with the students. “With Windows as a service, the updates can continue and re-imaging won’t be a big deal because with Windows 10 we just keep the updates going and don’t have to do a reset over the summer,” said Morency. “It means students can continue improving their writing and math skills and don’t have to start over when they get back in the fall.”
The Kent School District has 28,000 K–12 students and employs 4,500 teachers, administrators and other staff at 43 campuses in the city of Kent, Washington.
The school district has maintained a longstanding relationship with Microsoft and it is both a Microsoft Showcase School and a best practice location for the National School Board Association.
It’s so motivating to see the impact Windows 10 devices can have on preparing students for the future. We’re are honored to play a supporting role in their education. Windows 10 Education is available for educators through Microsoft Volume Licensing and we welcome their ongoing feedback on how we can make Windows great for schools.
You can learn more about the new innovations for the classroom with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update here and check out this Windows Experience Blog post for additional information on education institutions around the world that are choosing to adopt Windows 10.
Updated June 24, 2016 8:33 am