Announcing: Microsoft Surface

If you have luddites who aren't comfortable with the computer in your school, hold on.

Computers are coming to your tables, walls, filing cabinets, doors, and oh my goodness, perhaps even that flat surface on the student desk.

At the everything D conference that I blogged about yesterday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will announce Microsoft Surface. The article says:

” [Surface is] the first in the company’s new category of surface-computing products that it has touted as “breaking down traditional barriers between people and technology.” Surface has a 30-inch display in a table-like format that can recognize physical objects. It allows, according to Microsoft, “hands-on, direct control of content such as photos, music and maps. … through natural gestures, touch and physical objects.”

Surface can also recognize objects embedded with identification tags similar to bar codes….Surface, as Microsoft sums it up, brings an “opportunity to create technology that would bridge the physical and virtual worlds.”

Devices will roll out the end of this year!

The applications here for education are incredible! How about a word wall that changes depending on the class that is in your room. Think about the manipulatives potentials — use them but NO clean up — just a little Windex and wipe off the fingerprints!

This is only the beginning. The revolution is here.

I've often told my students that they will look back and laugh about taking a “computer” class one day because they will become a commodity and a part of EVERYTHING. Man and machine continue to blur and bring with them a whole plethora of ethical and though provoking issues (I'm a little survivalist in nature.)

Make them share pencils!?

This doesn't mean that technology isn't important, it means that it is more important than ever. Limiting access to computers is almost like making kids share pencils — we wouldn't dream of it.

It is not about being comfortable it is about doing the right thing. I'm sure those men who landed on the moon were not comfortable in their space suits either. This is not a place of comfort but a wonderful place where even a person in smalltown Georgia can contribute to the discussion!

OK, here is your question — HOW CAN SUCH A SURFACE PROGRAM BE USED IN SCHOOLS? Leave a comment here!

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Dennis Harter May 30, 2007 - 4:06 pm

1. Student work can be posted on walls…only now that student work is digital (finally) and not some poster with glued-on cut-out pieces of paper!

2. My wife’s a photography teacher. These kids can be sorting through photos…it’s like a light table only photos are resizeable, croppable…are you kidding me?!

Ideas still coming…can’t believe this is coming out this year! Awesome.

Mr. Schneider May 30, 2007 - 5:03 pm

Lets give Jeff Han some credit. I think he may have gotten there first.

Jeff Han Link

Vicki A. Davis May 30, 2007 - 5:50 pm

Thank you for the great video! I’ve never seen it!! Great resource to take a look at.

Microsoft certainly didn’t invent it, however, their deployment does mean that more of us will get it and that it will be more widely accepted and not relegated to sci-fi.


R May 31, 2007 - 5:57 pm

I teach for Oracle part-time and at a technology high school full time. I also teach biology and other sciences. I’m so excited about this technology. I’ve read sci-fi since I was old enough to read, and this is right out of that. I’ll turn 50 in the fall, and I want to be 20 right now with all the new technology. I can’t wait to see what we can do with it in education. However, it will take twice as long for it to be integrated in public education as it will be in the private sector. BIG SIGH!

Back to what it can do…. can you imagine entity relationship diagrams (ERD’s) with this? Collaborative learning? Presentations and projects take on a whole new meaning. My students are constantly enlightening me with the present technology. They were so excited when I showed them the video of the Zunes and cell phones being used with Surface. One of them mentioned an integrated touch keyboard (which is in the video on the Jeff Han link, so I wonder if he saw that…hmmm). I was thinking more of the speak technology…. emails will be voice mails. Computers will be portable: cell phones which one will lay on the inter(sur)face and use as needed, or zunes, or a combination of all those…who knows? It’s so amazing and so much fun!!!

Thanks for letting me share, too!

Sharon May 31, 2007 - 8:28 pm

Hi Vicki, This is quite the technology. I was just tying it to the questions posted by Sec. Spelling on how the government can help education. Financial support to put bleeding edge technology into classrooms and to teach the teachers and students.

andrew vdb June 2, 2007 - 1:10 pm

will they able to make it capable for projecting into 3d space ?

since its still looked like touch screen with multiple input

Anonymous June 16, 2007 - 4:58 pm

Wow…I hadn’t thought about it, but that’s a great idea for this thing (I don’t think it has much practial value otherwise…

SoCal Sam June 19, 2007 - 2:59 pm

How can student gain from the use of Surface in the classroom? Now social interactive learning can be implemented. Up to now, the student may be interacting with others while interacting individually with the computer. The “surface” system could offer an expert system that would work with students that have difficulties dealing with authority figures for example, or are suffering from attention deficit or depression. An Expert System or AI could emulate and track the human teacher.

Take a look at my series on AI. I am writing a series of blogs on Artificial Intelligence at Take a look, let me know what you think! Right now, we are working through the process of communicating with Space Aliens, take a look before you judge the subject material. I am using the plot of communicating with Space Aliens to get students interested in some computer science concepts, and will eventually lead into environmental/ecological research.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere