Windows 10 has just been released, but I haven’t seen anything written about it from a teacher’s perspective.
Microsoft has been working on Windows 10 since last year, but it was officially released on July 29th, 2015.
What are the new features available in Windows 10?
I wasn’t sure what to expect but I took the chance and installed Windows 10 on my computer. I was pleased to see new features for multi-tasking and taking notes.
How can they been applied in the classroom?
I spent the next week playing with these new features and thinking about how I could apply them in the classroom.
Here’s what I came up with.
1 – Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Edge is the new browser that comes with Windows 10. It lets you write notes directly onto webpages and then share the information.
If you are browsing the internet and you come across a page or an article that interests you, click on the icon that looks like a pen and paper in the top right-hand corner.
Once you have clicked on the icon, a purple tool bar (OneNote) appears. The tools for making notes are on the left-hand side of the tool bar.
You can highlight text, make notes or draw diagrams, add comments or copy parts of websites. Once you have added your notes you can save them or share them. You can send them directly to OneNote or e-mail them to colleagues / classmates.
Read 'tips for taking notes' for more information about using OneNote.
A teacher’s perspective
I don’t think Microsoft Edge will become my default browser, but I can see how it would be useful for lesson planning. I really appreciate the ability to write my ideas and notes directly onto webpages and being able to save them for later.
I can highlight or underline words I want to introduce from an authentic text found online. I can add a typed note to include the definition or translations for difficult words. I can use the pen tool to add timelines or diagrams.
The biggest drawback of Microsoft Edge is that I found it difficult to print my notes from inside the internet browser. I had to save it to OneNote first and then print the page from OneNote.
Note: When you save a webpage to OneNote, it is saved along with the URL for ease of referencing.
2 – Virtual Desktops
The virtual desktop is a great feature for teachers because it allows you to have multiple desktops and organize multiple programs at once.
I was able to run a PowerPoint presentation on one desktop and a digital whiteboard on a second desktop and move between the two at the press of a button.
This video provides a brief demonstration of how easy it is to move between programs. The video shows a PowerPoint introducing an activity before the desktops are changed and a digital whiteboard is used to write down students’ ideas.
A teacher’s perspective
Virtual desktops are definitely something that I am going to be using more and more next semester.
Previously when I have used PowerPoint, it was always a little clumsy to move to a second program. Especially if I was reacting a comment from a student. The new desktops provide a lot of possibilities.
I can have quick access to a digital whiteboard or a countdown timer. I can also have online reference material on hand or I can work with multiple presentations, documents or excel files. I can keep one desktop for each of the classes I am teaching on that day. I can do all those things because I can open as many virtual desktops as I need. When I tested it, I opened 125 without reaching a limit.
You are only limited by how many computer programs you can have open at the same time.
I think they are going to be very useful in the classroom.
Here is some background information about the new virtual desktops.
In the previous versions of windows you had one desktop and if you working with multiple programs (PowerPoint, a Digital Whiteboard, an Internet browser etc.) you could press ALT + TAB to move between them.
In Windows 10 you can have as many desktops as you want. To move between desktops there is a new icon on the task bar that opens the task view.
When you click on the task view icon you will see a screen that shows all the programs that you are running. You can add a new desktop by click the ‘+’ icon in the bottom right-hand corner.
When you have a created a new desktop you can either select a program from desktop 1 and drag it to desktop 2, or you can select desktop 2 and open a new program once you have moved to the new desktop.
Virtual desktops are a new feature in Windows 10, so there are some new keyboard shortcuts.
Click here for more information about keyboard shortcuts in Windows 10.
3 – Cortana
Cortana is Microsoft’s version of the digital personal assistant. Cortana is to Microsoft what Siri is to Apple. Cortana has been included as a standard feature in Windows 10 and it is one of the biggest changes.
Go to the start menu and click on the circular icon to activate Cortana. Alternatively you change Cortana’s settings so that it responds to “Hey, Cortana!”
If you want to know more about Cortana, here is an introduction to Cortana by Microsoft.
Click here to read more about how to get started with Cortana. Click here to learn how to personalize Cortana
A teacher’s perspective
Cortana may be useful as a way to practice pronunciation, to quickly access information or hands-free navigation, but personally it is the least useful of the new features for me.
Having said that, I haven’t fully experienced Cortana. There are a couple of reasons for this.
Firstly. In order for Cortana to be useful it has to be personalized, so it asks for access to your personal information. This includes your location, search history, browsing history, contacts, calendar, and message history. Also like Siri it keeps track of all your voice commands. I wasn’t keen on giving the required permissions to test it out.
Secondly, I knew that it would lose its novelty value. When I got my iPhone, I tried Siri a few times before I got bored of it and never used it again. I also noted when using Siri that once you have chosen your language, Siri didn’t recognize foreign words easily.
I shouldn’t really compare the two digital assistants, but when I look around at people using their smart phones, tablets and computers, I see people using their hands. Speech recognition and voice commands can be useful but I’m not sure if I am ever going to use them for my day-to-day work.
I really like Windows 10 so far.
I like being able to make notes with Microsoft Edge.
I really like being able to organize what appears on my screen with the virtual desktops.
Although I’m not convinced I will be using Cortana in the classroom that’s only my personal preference.