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Surface as a Service: Flexible management for schools

Over the last ten years, I’ve witnessed a significant shift in campuses across the country – schools and universities alike have evolved from tethered to mobile, from isolated to collaborative, from rigid to flexible. Of course, this digital and cultural evolution is not unique to education, but the consequences are arguably more significant here than in any other sector. After all, we’re talking about the formative years of our future leaders.

Driven by incredible technological innovation, the modern classroom is transforming learning outcomes. Teachers are reporting personalised lesson content, delivered anywhere, anytime, is enhancing knowledge retention resulting in more engaged and collaborative students1.

When it comes to realising this big vision, I think that Microsoft have hit a real sweet spot with the Microsoft Surface family. The latest additions – a refreshed Surface Pro 7, Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro X – have just been announced, and further cement their position as the go-to devices for schools. Let’s take a closer look:

Surface Pro 7 – a top pick for students

Surface Pro 7

The versatility of this 2-in-1 makes it the perfect study companion, allowing students to adapt the device to tasks at hand. Flat on the desk and paired with the pen stylus, it becomes a writing slate for drawing and digital inking. With the kickstand up and using the type keyboard, it becomes a sturdy laptop for reading, taking notes and completing assignments. Teachers can create and provide electronic notes, workbooks, and readings, reducing printing and paper costs (and time spent at the photocopier), while efficiently developing lesson plans and preparing for classes.

The latest upgrades enhance these functions further:

  • It’s twice as fast as Surface Pro 6 and the latest MacBook Air.
  • All day battery life will keep students on task, but when the device does get low on juice, it can now recharge back to 80% in less than an hour.
  • Surface Pro 7 connects to older and newer peripherals with both a USB-A and USB-C ports.
  • The headphone jack allows students to quietly consume media without disrupting the classroom.

Surface Laptop 3 – for teachers and senior students

Surface Laptop 3

Like the Surface Pro 7, this next-gen Surface Laptop augments teaching and learning without being shackled to your desk thanks to all-day battery life and fast recharge. It’s stylish too; fairly comparable to the MacBook Air in appearance. Not only is Surface Laptop 3 a great choice for students – teachers and administrators will appreciate its portability and power.

The latest upgrades enhance these functions further:

  • Students can pick from two sizes (the original 13” and new 15”), both of which can be carried around in a backpack no problem (1.25kg & 1.54kg respectively).
  • Two durable pure metal finishes with built-in dirt resistance helps keep the device cleaner and hygienic for longer, even in the possession of a teenager.
  • No wasting classroom time waiting for slow computers – a new Intel processor option makes Laptop 3 twice as faster as the Laptop 2 and three times more powerful than the MacBook Air.
  • A removable hard drive ensures secure disposal, particularly convenient at end of life.
  • The 20% larger trackpad will make laptop control that little bit easier.

Surface Pro X – a powerful tool for staff, faculty and students

Surface Pro X

Surface Pro X is billed as Microsoft’s thinnest computer yet. Like Surface Pro 7, it converts from a laptop to tablet, plus it’s extremely lightweight. They’ve included a handy spot in the Surface Pro X keyboard that not only keeps your Surface Slim Pen safe, it recharges it at the same time. This model is perfect for students who need a little more processing power, for mobile school staff, and for teachers – who are already lugging school supplies from home to school and back – the portability will take a load off. Unclip the type cover and the Surface Pro X is so portable that teachers can comfortably roam the classroom while still running their lesson, making genuine student interaction easy and natural.

The latest upgrades enhance these functions further:

  • An almost edge-to-edge screen will keep students focused on tasks on hand or provide staff with a great device for video meetings.
  • Enough grunt power to get through a full school day with 13 hours run-time and a zero to 80% quick-charge in under an hour.
  • Wi-Fi and built-in LTE ensures you’ll always stay connected.
  • The brand new SQL 1 Processor is not only fast, it offers AI-powered eye gaze technology to keep eyes focused front-on during video calls.

Refresh your fleet with Surface as a Service

If it’s time to refresh your school’s device fleet and you feel daunted by the task, you’re not alone. Many organisations continue to be challenged with the time, cost and complexity of procuring, managing and maintaining end user devices. In fact, 63% of IT Managers say their resources are drained by device management and they would like to be able to focus on more strategic IT projects1.

Thankfully, we have a simple solution – Surface as a Service could be your saviour.

Surface as a Service, a Data#3 Device as a Service (DaaS) solution offers a flexible, modern approach to managing Surface devices, software, accessories and services eliminating the burden of lifecycle management while making each stage more cost effective and efficient. This includes deployment and management, analytics, security and end of life recycling – all for one predictable monthly fee.

For many schools, the consistent fleet and dependable per user, per month cost of Surface as a Service provides an attractive alternative to bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives. BYOD was a popular option for schools to embrace more technology in the classroom (without the device costs), initially BYOD was thought to be a simple and straightforward system, however, a number of challenges have begun to emerge. Two in particular are causing major headaches – and preventing stretched IT teams from focussing on more strategic projects.

Security

Without a doubt, security is the single biggest risk of BYOD because ultimately securing the device is in the student or teachers’ hands. To protect the network, security must be a core foundation of the planning and implementation process – in fact, failure to do so leaves your school exposed to data loss and breaches. Schools are already fighting an uphill battle in this regard, education has the highest rate of ransomware across all industries: three times more than healthcare and ten times more than finance2.

In contrast, a DaaS model delivers peace of mind to IT teams as it’s able to enforce security policies from the outset and monitor security all the way to end of life.

Device Management

BYOD also increases the effort to efficiently manage and onboard the seemingly endless variety of devices and operating systems, increasing workloads and causing compatibility issues between devices and applications. On the flipside, standardising your fleet with DaaS makes it easier for IT to deliver efficient onboarding, proactive security and support, regular system upgrades to keep the fleet in tip top condition and, above all, substantially reduced operating costs.

Like to know more?

As Microsoft’s largest Australian partner, Data#3 is your go-to partner for end-to-end support, maintenance and training for all your Surface fleet requirements. Contact us to arrange a 1:1 meeting with a Data#3 Microsoft Specialist to learn more about the new Surface fleet, or to discuss Surface as a Service.

1. IDC (2017). Transforming Device Lifecycle Management with Device as a Service. [Online] Available at: http://idcdocserv.com/download/HP_IB_DaaS_3317.pdf
2. BitSight Technologies (2016). The Rising Face of Cyber Crime: Ransomware. [Online] Available at: https://info.bitsighttech.com/bitsight-insights-ransomware?hsCtaTracking=7dce0bd9-bf5d-456c-ab5e-134a1e47cb7d%7Cd54507aa-4e0d-42d3-9d81-b726f0a0f783

Tags: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Device as a Service (DaaS), Device Management, Devices, Education, IT Lifecycle Management, K-12 Education, Microsoft, Microsoft Surface, Microsoft Surface Pro, Mobility, Tertiary Education, The Anywhere Classroom

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