Westmont Montessori School, in Victoria, B.C., is set to launch an innovative program in their high school in the fall of 2022. Due to the interactive and collaborative nature of this program, it became clear that sophisticated technological resources were needed to make it work. Microsoft provided just what Westmont was looking for, their new Surface Hub 2S device.
“The traditional model of education has the teacher as the keeper of knowledge,” says Jason Bowers, Vice-Principal of Westmont Montessori School. “They then impart this knowledge to the students. The approach of our new high school program is going to be completely different. Teachers will work as facilitators. Students will be paired with mentors who are experts in their field.”
This is no ordinary program. “It will be multidisciplinary, experiential, and project-based,” says Bowers. “Rather than subjects being siloed, we’ll work on projects and tasks that uncover answers from different disciplines like science and math. And we’ll be working with experts from different fields and in different parts of the world.”
Bowers knew none of this would be easy. In addition to other requirements, Westmont needed a special platform or device to meet the challenging needs of their new high school program. This is where Microsoft came in. Their new Surface Hub 2S is tailor-made for the progressive approach of the high school program Westmont is set to launch. It’s far from hyperbolic to say it was a perfect fit: it had all the features Westmont was looking for, and more.
The Surface Hub 2S is a Microsoft Teams-certified meetings platform and an interactive whiteboard that brings groups together, in smaller and larger settings. It provides the basis for the kind of interaction, collaboration, and brainstorming at the heart of Westmont’s new high school program. Consider its interactive whiteboard. “This can be used to share ideas between students, present ideas to a class or cohort, and engage in a dynamic discussion,” says Bowers. “It enables us to collaborate in exactly the types of ways we’re looking to.”
This unique educational dynamic is enhanced by the Surface Hub 2S’s conferencing capabilities. “You can connect with experts anywhere in the world,” says Bowers. “For instance, one possibility that excites us is to pair students with writers who act as mentors. This is precisely the kind of thing we want to do in our new program.”
One of the many virtues of the Surface Hub 2S is that it allows for seamless transitions. For instance, it can easily change from being in a TV setup to a tabletop position. “This is really important because you don’t want to break the flow of the class,” says Bowers. “Those few-minute breaks can really interfere with the energy and flow.” And, if students have to work remotely, the Surface Hub 2S enables them to join and participate in a lesson from anywhere. Since the hardware and software work together, there are almost never technological glitches.
The Surface Hub 2S is an essential teaching tool for faculty. “To have access to the device is amazing,” says Bowers. “It enables us to display and explain assignments and create a visual representation of the assignment. Because our faculty is well-versed in the Microsoft Teams platform, the Surface Hub makes it a natural extension for us.”
Another remarkable feature of the Hub is that it allows you to record and save everything that takes place in the classroom. This gives you a digital copy you can share with anyone who’s on the network. “The archiving part of the process is brilliant,” says Bowers. “You can record conversations and go back to what someone said.”
Above all, what you have is a computer that’s large and multi-faceted enough to be an integral classroom teaching and learning tool. “The entire classroom can use the Surface Hub because of its size and portability,” says Bowers. “My personal computer cannot do that. The Hub is a much more effective collaborative teaching resource in that respect.”
The Microsoft Surface Hub 2S is a next-generation tool. It enables interaction and collaboration in diverse settings and with different people, and it has a unique set of capabilities you won’t find anywhere else, at least in one device. Needless to say, the Surface Hub 2S is invaluable for schools and programs, like Westmont, that place great emphasis on interaction, group learning, experiential learning, and multidisciplinary work. On a much larger scale, however, it can be used in a multitude of ways to help cultivate a more interactive, dynamic, and engaging educational environment in a wide variety of school settings.