Technology is evolving at a rapid pace and it’s transforming the way students learn and how faculty teach. Seton Hall University has been at the forefront of this paradigm shift.  University administration and technology leaders believe that technology is a prerequisite for students’ academic success and workforce readiness. Since 1998, Seton Hall has provided a laptop to all undergraduates as part of their Seton Hall (SHU) Mobile Computing program. Now they are making the strategic decision to standardize on the Microsoft platform and embark on a new era in teaching and learning.

Today, Microsoft is excited to announce our expanding partnership with Seton Hall as all incoming freshmen and returning juniors are being provided a Samsung Series 7 tablet or Samsung Series 5 ultrabook running Windows 8, along with Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phones to use during their academic careers. Combined with the move to Office 365 for education for cloud communications and collaboration, Seton Hall has delivered a fully integrated productivity solution that offers students and faculty a seamless way to access information, create content and work together no matter what device– whether it’s the laptop, tablet, or phone.

Seton Hall University chose the Microsoft platform and Windows 8 after piloting iPad and Android.  While students reported they liked the form factor for consuming information, what they really missed was the Microsoft Office environment that allowed them to be as productive as possible. Students also wanted integration of their tablet experience with their desktop experience. The iPad and Android devices also didn’t come with the security and management features critical to Seton Hall’s IT department as they need to manage and secure thousands of devices across the university. You can read more about the CIO’s decision over on the Windows for your Business blog.

The innovation built into Windows 8 offers students and faculty a new learning experience and we’re really excited to see how Seton Hall transforms what’s possible with technology on campus. Faculty shared with us the immediate impact of using Windows 8 and the plethora of devices as part of their curricula:

1. Students will have immediate access to an amazing amount of resources available online that they can ask students to pull up on their tablets or laptops during class and annotate in real-time.
2. They will be able to design new and engaging activities for students inside and outside the classroom through a custom Windows 8 Metro application for lab coursework.
3. It will be much easier for students to keep up with their academic work and work together on projects, and professors will have a faster way to be responsive to their students who need help as that’s critical to the small close-knit community feeling on campus.

The Stillman School of Business is one of the premier business schools in the country, and they are excited to be the first to offer students the opportunity to use Windows 8, Office 365 and the Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone to better prepare students for their future in the workplace. They want to be on the cutting edge of technology to make sure their students are more prepared and on top of their game than their competitors.

At the heart of every discipline in higher education is critical thinking where students need to learn to analyze, synthesize and evaluate. With the cool tablet devices and Windows Phones, instead of doing the regular old-school written report and presentation, students can do more content creation. Windows 8 tablets allow students the convenient tablet form factor, but with the ability to dock it and have full mouse, keyboard and stylus support. They’ll be able to capture video, still photos, and geo tag them, then edit and add audio narration to create digital stories that are more personal and can tell a much more reflective story. Students have become academic nomads and with so many learning opportunities taking place outside the traditional walls of a classroom, Windows Phones are a great research tool for data collection in the field with the ability to export the data to an Excel file later to analyze.

Some of the school’s curricula will focus on developing applications for the tablets and the phones for business and for learning. One of the most exciting things is Seton Hall’s SHUmobile app for the Windows Phone that takes contact information out of the university’s student information system and displays it to students in a way that makes it easy for them to communicate and collaborate with their classmates, their peer advisors, peers groups, faculty members and their mentors. It helps support academic engagement throughout the summer and the fall.

Technology can be a powerful tool to help students realize their potential and Microsoft is committed to building innovative new products that will have a big impact on improving educational outcomes for students and schools. Seton Hall’s class of 2016 will no doubt be better prepared for the demands of a globally competitive workforce after using the latest technology there is to offer.

Microsoft is excited Windows 8 will officially roll out broadly to schools very soon, and our partners will be unveiling new devices on October 26th. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to check out Windows 8 and start testing and planning your deployments and upgrades.