Working with a Surface Go: Week 2

uprightwithpenandkeyboardHave now reached the end of my 2nd week using a MS Surface device as my main device.   Must admit the Go continues to grow on me as a device, however there are a few compromises or issues.

During the week I managed to get a Microsoft wireless display adapter.    This is a very simply little device which just plugs into a display or data projector via HDMI and then gets its power from the USB connection on the display device.   As such it was very simple to setup.   Following setup my first concern was the unit we had appeared to have very limited range, and therefore my Go didn’t pick it up despite being only a couple meters away.   I suspect if deploying to classrooms across school we would need to consider an Enterprise grade solution as opposed to these adapters, so that connection could be via the school Wi-Fi, given our Wi-Fi coverage is very good.   Once connected managing the settings of the adapter was easy.  It was simply a case of downloading the appropriate app, connecting to the adapter and then controlling it from there, including setting a password so that pupils cant simply change the setup plus also setting a pin code to stop pupils connecting across classrooms.   All very easy to do such that the adapters could be quickly and easily deployed however the range would be a concern.   Once going I really liked that while presenting via my Go device, it hid my email pop ups.   As such no GDPR issues with email details showing in pop ups which appear on displays for all pupils to see.

This week I started making greater use of inking to take notes and annotate documents.   I don’t particularly like Edge as a browser, preferring Chrome however liked I liked the ability to use Edge to display a web page then to use inking for highlighting and annotating the page before saving this to OneNote for later review or to share with pupils.   I could see real potential in the use of this functionality in lessons.

OneNote in particular has came into its own this week in being able to drop documents into a page for reference, or to drop them in as a print, for annotation.  I have also spent more time taking notes on screen using the stylus, having decided to force myself to do this.   Normally I carry a blue book around with me to write my notes, thoughts, etc, in so this week to force myself to use the Go I locked my blue book away.   It tool a little bit of time to get used to drawing on the screen and the different sensation provided when compared with writing on paper.  In addition it also took time to get used to the smaller writing surface of the Go when compared to an A4 book.  I know that a Surface Pro would provide me a bigger surface than the Go however it would also result in surfacing some of the portability and weight benefits presented by the Go, not to mention the additional cost.   Once I got use to the smaller screen size I quickly started scrolling around in OneNote to take my notes, and then zooming in and out to review or edit.    It didn’t take me long before this was working well and I could quickly take my notes as before.

WinUpdateGoI did during the week have one issue with my Go when it seemed to get stuck logging me in while I was chairing a meeting.   This was a little annoying as I needed to rely on others to remind me of the agenda given I couldn’t access it on my device while it logged in.    This continues to be a concern, in the little glitches that occur in using a windows device versus the more reliable nature of an iPad.   The flip side though to this is that the Go and Windows provide me a full desktop experience and allow me to do much more than the apps on an iPad.    This therefore is a decision of accepting which trade offs you are willing to make.   For now my trial with the Surface Go will continue, and I will make a decision further down the line once I have more time with the device under my belt.   The dreaded Windows Update also made an appearance during the week, however thankfully not at a critical point in my day.

One of my concerns with the Go has always been the overall processing power of the device so this week I decided to put some of that to the test.   I opened a couple of large spreadsheets in addition to my email, plus also tried working in PowerBI.   All in all the Go was a little slow however not significantly slow.   It actually pleasantly surprised me in its ability to handle this processing work.  I will note that a larger spreadsheet with pivot tables, etc, is likely to cause to Go to pause as it processes the data, however for the normal kind of data I would expect to see teachers using, including tracking sheets, the Go should be up to the task.

And so my second week with the Surface Go had a few issues, but it hasn’t had me reaching back for my laptop and A4 book.   I am even using the Go to type this post, sat on my couch, with the Go perched on my lap.    Onwards to week 3.







Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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