The New Microsoft Surface: Perfect For Education?

Remember that large coffee table-sized screen that you’d sometimes see in hotel lobbies or at a few high-end stores?

It’s called Microsoft Surface and it just got a huge refresh.The newest version is now perfect for schools and classrooms looking for a more exciting way to get students to collaboratively learn. There’s one big problem, though.

What’s Great

First, the good news. The newest version of Microsoft Surface is much thinner and bigger. It’s 40″ in diameter (the last one was 30″) and it’s much thinner at 4″ deep (the last one was 9″) due to a total overhaul in the technology.

The new Surface is being built by Samsung in a new partnership with Microsoft and uses pixel-sensing technology built right into the screen. The old one used multiple cameras that could sense where your fingers are. I’m very glad to see this technology has been updated as that original plan was wrought with flaws. I’ve used Surface and it’s nowhere near as sensitive as an iPad or typical smartphone. I’ll be curious to see if the newest version is closer to iPad sensitivity.

The new Surface is also a lot more durable and wouldn’t be totally wrecked by a classroom of first-graders after just a few minutes. “Say you’re in the hospitality section of a hotel and you have a bottle of beer in your hand. If you dropped it from around 18 inches on to the screen, the screen would be fine because of the Gorilla Glass. If you spilled some liquids, we’ve also done some work to make sure that there’s some protection for that too, so that the devices don’t get damaged when they’re deployed in a public environment.”

So why should the new Surface be used in schools? Simply put, it’s perfect for K-12 classrooms because it lets multiple students try to perform a task together like they never could before.

What’s Not So Great

Now, the bad news. It is $7,600. While that’s about half the price of the first model, it’s still quite high. That’s the price of about a dozen mid-range PC laptops that could likely do more for students than Surface (at this point at least).

While schools fight for every last penny in their budgets, this means Surface may not make it into schools anytime soon. However, it sure would be great if it did.

So I put it to you, loyal Edudemic readers. If you were given a Surface for free, would you use it? How would you use it? If your school district had to pay for it, would it? Weigh in on the Edudemic Facebook page today!

2 Comments

  1. Brian Bennett (@bennettscience)

    September 19, 2011 at 10:17 am

    This is cool, and its fun to watch the demo videos with people using it, but I’m very afraid schools will buy this and it will be the Smartboard that sits underutilized or unused in the room.
    Yes, this could provide opportunities for learners to work together on simulations or other cool things, but can you really fit 30 first-graders around it? Which group gets to use the Surface? I think it needs to go a long way before it becomes a staple in school settings.

  2. @emoccio

    September 19, 2011 at 10:22 am

    My question is: why this? Can't you buy a half dozen iPads for the same price and actually have the tech. in the students hands? I think that would be more powerful. I agree with you Brian that it may get under-utilized and/or just be used to watch videos – like some Smartboards are relinquished to doing!