As part of its ongoing mission to give students opportunities through vocational training, real-world skills, and modern technology tools, St Patrick’s College provided second-year students with Surface RT
tablets and Microsoft Office. Students can now work anytime, anywhere, to complete more assignments on time and be better prepared for class. They also gain a competitive advantage in the job market of the future.
The mission of St Patrick’s College is to empower students to change their lives through education. The college helps open up new career opportunities in key vocational programs, such as business management, tourism and hospitality, law, technology,
and health care.
In order to better prepare students to compete in the global job market, in 2013 St Patrick’s College decided to equip its students with cutting-edge, industry-standard technology and devices. “A lot of our students don’t have computers at home and did not
attend primary and secondary schools where technology was widely used,” says Dr. Daniel Khan, Principal of St Patrick’s College. “In the past, first-year students were missing due dates because they didn’t know how to use technology to complete their assignments
“It’s very important to prepare our students for the jobs they hope to obtain after their courses,” adds Vicente Fraser, Chief Information Officer of St Patrick’s College. “We want the technology tools that students use here to complement the tools they
will be using in their first jobs.”
St Patrick’s decided the best solution to help accelerate students’ use of and proficiency with critical technology tools would be to partner with Microsoft to offer Surface RT tablets running the Windows 8.1 operating system and Microsoft Office. The
tablets were made available to second-year students who met the college’s criteria for academic achievement. “Students were very excited when they learned Surface tablets were going to be given to them for their performance,” says Malcolm Thompson, Head of
School of Technology.
||Microsoft Surface tablets will give our students a distinct advantage in the workplace and in the competition for jobs.
| Dr. Daniel Khan
Principal, St Patrick's College
“We had an award ceremony and were recognized for our achievements,” remembers second-year student Nelly Kibririge. “It was brilliant. We were very proud. Since then, my entire class has been fully motivated.”
Students also have a Microsoft Office 365 account, which allows them to store and share documents through SkyDrive. To help students learn to use their new tablets and Office 365 programs, St Patrick’s also employs an online training voucher program where
students are given vouchers to enroll in courses for Microsoft PowerPoint, Word, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, and Internet Explorer.
“Surface is ideal for us because it provides Office on a touch device,” says Fraser. “You don’t get that with Android or Apple or other platforms.” He adds that especially in vocational technology and business courses, having Office is a huge advantage because
it exposes students to the applications and user experience they’ll find in their professional life. “If you compare tablet environments, Internet Explorer on Surface gives you much more of a desktop experience than Chrome, Safari, and other competing platforms.”
He notes that the ability to plug in a memory stick, keyboard, and mouse is something students cannot do with many tablets.
Instructors at the college are incorporating the Surface tablets into their lectures—connecting the tablet to a plasma TV or projector without having to call IT. As Fraser says, “Instructors and students whip out their tablets and they just work. The rollout
of Surface tablets has been one of the easiest technology projects we’ve ever done. A student receives the tablet, charges it, logs on with their Office 365 account, and off they go.”
Thanks to the success of the Surface rollout, the London School of Business & Finance Alliance Cooperation, of which St Patrick’s College is a member, has purchased 10,000 Surface RT tablets for students at other member universities. Says Fraser, “There
is a big shift toward mobile and tablet computing, and educational institutions like ours have to be at the front of that trend.”
Now that they have their own Surface tablets, St Patrick’s students and teachers have gained several benefits:
Anytime Access to Learning Resources
Using their Surface tablets, students are able to develop their coursework both at school and at home. The tablets are also optimized for access to St Pat’s Online, the college’s portal for all class lecture notes, outlines of lesson plans, letters from
the college, and other learning materials, including library books. Khan notes that having both classwork and library materials available on the Surface is much more useful than waiting for and checking out a physical book. "If students can’t access the content
they need when they need it, what’s the point of having it?”
Seamless Integration with Existing IT Investments
The Surface tablets fit well with St Patrick’s overall IT environment and strategic IT direction, as the college has already invested heavily in a Windows infrastructure and Office 365. Fraser says, “Adopting Surface devices just made sense. They are
so easy to deploy and manage.”
Computer Literacy for the Whole Family
St Patrick’s College has many students who are also parents or caregivers and who have no computer at home. Says Khan, “We’re hoping that when these students take their Surface tablet home, their children will also use it. That means our initiative will
have a wider, multiplied effect in terms of the whole household becoming IT-literate.”
A Tablet Today, a Job Tomorrow
With Office 365, students always have the most up-to-date versions of Office applications available on their Surface, which is important given the value that employers place on Office skills. According to a 2013 study by International Data Corporation,
Microsoft Office applications rank third in the top 20 in-demand skills for high-growth, high-wage occupations. Khan strongly believes that the Surface will be a key part of transforming the entire learning process at St Patrick’s, “giving students a distinct
advantage in the workplace and in competition for jobs.”
Khan adds that the approach the college is taking can be replicated—that learning through technology benefits not only St Patrick’s students but a worldwide audience. “We can form partnerships to make so much online content available to other colleges, including
the developing world, for example. The possibilities are endless.”
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