For the past 3 weeks, the only computer I’ve used has been my Surface Pro: at home, at work, in the classroom, at a conference, to present (wirelessly and wired – yes, you need an adapter for wired connection). I’m honestly super pleased with it! It’s a great solution for flipped classroom teachers (the handwriting and fluidity of the pen is absolutely awesome) and the Surface Pro is perfect to be used in-class, particular if you’re like me and do lots of moving around with your computer (provided you have a wireless projector).
So without being formal, here are my thoughts:
Inking in OneNote is great. At my school, all teachers used to have Tablet PCs (now we get a choice, and I went with a Mac because overall I still prefer Mac over PC). I’m pretty sure, for most of us math teachers who replaced our laptops with a non-tablet, what was missed the most was inking in OneNote.
I am currently back to using OneNote daily now that I have my Surface Pro. If you were ever to watch me teach, you might get dizzy watching me walk in so many circles. I like to move when I’m in the classroom – and I like to give my students the freedom to move around also. Movement is good! Something I like doing, now that I have my Surface Pro, is keep the tablet projected (remember, the Surface Pro is a full functioning PC, so I can install the projector software directly) and then walking around the room with my tablet + pen to write. This enables me to project the work that I’m doing with groups so that anyone in the class can look up – see what problem we are working on – and then: 1. they can listen in if they are at a table close to the one I’m at, while watching me ink on the projector; 2. they can come over to the table I’m with and join in; or 3. they can continue doing the work they were doing if they don’t need help with the particular problem “my” group is working on. Another huge perk to having my “paper” projected is that when I’m working with a larger group of 4-6 students, it makes it so easy for everybody to see what is being written really clearly. When using a piece of paper, it’s never equally viewable to everyone around the table. And of course it doesn’t just have to be me inking the answer on the tablet. That’s for the kids to scribble on, too! But the portability of the Surface Pro is a big part of why I’m using it so much for this work – because in all honesty, when I had my Tablet PC, it just was too heavy to carry around all class. I more around a LOT when I teach, so having something light and easy to hold is important.
2. Scribbling on sticky notes
Yep, I love my sticky notes, like most teachers! The sticky notes on the surface pro can be typed on and/or inked on. I definitey enjoy just scribbling a quick reminder, in tablet mode.
3. Math Input Panel
Ever get tired of typing equations? The “Math Input Panel” is awesome in handwriting recognition. Want to type a math test in Word? Simply open a Word document, open Math Input Panel, and then hit the insert key. (You can insert the equation anywhere, it doesn’t have to be Word, this is just an example of how I’ve been using it.)
Speaking of handwriting recognition, I’m honestly kind of blown away at just how good the handwriting recognition is! In all honesty, however, it is not a feature I often find myself using, because I type much faster than I write.
4. Inking in PPT for my FlipClass videos
Those of you who have read how I structure my flipped classroom videos know that I ink in PPT. The writing on the Surface Pro is just awesome. It’s so smooth – easy to write, easy to erase – and the drawing is completely fluid. If you’ve ever used a not-so-great tablet, you might appreciate the above a bit more. I am extremely picky about smooth lines and fluid movement when inking. I honestly have zero complaints with my current setup.
5. Using Camtasia Studio to Edit on the Surface Pro
I was nervous that the Surface Pro wouldn’t be powerful enough to use with Camtasia Studio. Not the case. The Surface Pro really is a full functioning computer! In fact, editing my videos now, with the Surface Pro, is a far better experience than I was having with my 3 year old Tablet PC (which I have now completely abandoned). The Surface Pro is fast, stable, and I am having no difficulty with the workflow.
Now, do I look forward to going back to my Mac? Absolutely. I am tired of looking at a small screen all day and the touchpad on the surface pro leaves much to be desired (I have been using an external mouse). I have the typepad cover with the Surface Pro and I find the typing on it to be super. During the conference, when we were sitting in a room without desks, it was a little awkward to type on my lap, with the keyboard attached, but I did it. I still prefer Mac to PC for things outside of the classroom, but when it comes to in-class, I’ll continue using the Surface Pro because it does what I need much better. And certainly for both creating and editing flipclass videos, I have not found a solution that compares. I’m still looking for a good Mac solution (with a Wacom tablet) but at this point, I can’t say that I’m happy with what I’ve found.
If you’ve been wondering about the Surface Pro or looking into Tablet PC options, I hope you find my thoughts helpful. If you have the money to invest, or if your school is willing to make the purchase, (note: the Surface Pro is currently selling for $499 at Best Buy. If you want the type pad cover, you do need to tack on about $130 to that price) I would more than suggest the Surface Pro. It’s a fantastic solution for teachers!