Christmas came early for teachers who attended last week’s ISTE conference in San Antonio. Microsoft gave away 10,000 of its new Surface tablets to every teacher who’d registered and submitted a signed letter from their school. A neat surprise with no strings attached, barring Microsoft’s hope that they’ll love it so much that they’ll integrate it into their classrooms when school starts in the fall. Were you one of those lucky recipients? Are you a little overwhelmed with this new device? Not sure where to start? No worries. Follow these five steps to get properly accustomed to your new Surface RT
#1 – Learn to Navigate
The first thing you’ll want to do with your Surface is learn how to navigate the screen. If you’re an Apple user, or you’ve ever played around with an iPad, you’ll recognize these swipe motions; they’re fairly intuitive. On the Start page, swipe from the right
(gently toward the inner screen) to open the menu bar on the right and a clock on the bottom left of the screen. Swiping from the left
allows you to switch apps, if you have more than one open at any time. Swipe slow
to compare two screens on one window, or swipe slow and pull
to preview apps that are open and select the one you want to use. Swipe down
on any particular tile to unpin it from the Start screen and edit the app (uninstall, change size, etc.). To close an app, simply pull down from the top
of the Surface’s screen.
#2 – Customize the Interface
Once you’ve mastered your Surface’s navigation, it’s time to make the device yours. Organize tiles on the Start page into groups by pinching two fingers together
to zoom out of the Start page, and then flick downward
to bring up an action bar at the bottom of your screen, which allows you to name a group. Move tiles around (add or remove them from groups, move their position on the home screen) by simply holding and dragging
Head over to the Surface’s General Settings tab to further customize your tablet with options like adding a password, or changing the color scheme and the lock screen picture.
#3 – Purchase a Keyboard Cover
Microsoft bills the Surface RT as a “tablet PC
,” positioning it nicely as a niche product that falls somewhere in between the iPad and a traditional laptop computer. But it can only really be classified as a tablet PC if you invest in one of the Surface’s covers, which double as a keyboard. There’s the touch cover
, which is made of an ultra-light synthetic fabric that responds to the pressure of a light tap of the finger. And then there’s the type cover
, which is thicker and has keys that move like a traditional keyboard. If you plan to type frequently on your Surface, go with the type cover. However, if you plan on using your Surface more like a traditional tablet device, opt for the touch cover.
#4 – Download apps through the Windows store
Though the Windows store has been much-derided
for its poor selection of apps, many big-name brands are finally coming out with Surface-friendly apps (Flipboard and Facebook were added just last week
). Don’t be discouraged, though. There are more than 145,000 apps
to choose from in the Windows store, including big names like Netflix, Skype and YouTube. Also, keep in mind that the store has only been open for a little over six months
. Surely, Microsoft is working overtime to offer Surface users a better selection of apps, so sit tight and check the Windows store with some regularity.
#5 – Have Fun!
A brand new tablet device! For free! That’s a pretty great deal, so sit back and relax. Find out what tasks and activities you like doing the most on your Surface, and stick with those. More and more techies are forecasting the death of the desktop, so by getting to know your new Surface RT, you’ll stay one step ahead of the rest of the pack.
How do you like your new Surface RT tablet? Will you use it in your classrooms this fall? Let us know in the comments section.