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Windows 11 in Education: Technology that Just Works

Michael_Campbell
Employee
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The 2021 launch of Windows 11 can mean a lot for the education sector, but in general, Windows 11 can help make things easier for students in K–8, 9–12, and higher education, including students with disabilities. I know that saying “make things easier” is a fairly broad statement, so let me explain. When IT staff provide technology that just works seamlessly and smoothly in the classroom, it blends in. When it blends in, students can learn with technology acting as an enabler, not a barrier.

If students cannot get their device to work, then they cannot do their work. If students have trouble interacting with their device, then how can they learn efficiently? PCs with Windows 11—and powered by Intel—can free students of any age or learning ability from worry about their device itself and instead allow them to focus on their studies.

K–8 students: Windows 11 SE

The “SE” in Windows 11 SE stands for Student Edition, meaning that it was created specifically for students with direct feedback from educators. Students in K–8 don’t need a ton of fancy apps, which is why this stripped-down version of Windows 11 is perfect for them.

With Windows 11 SE, students only have a specific few apps that are available to them, so they can’t download any third-party apps that may be distracting. Windows 11 SE does, however, support apps for content filtering, test taking, essential diagnostics for management and educators, and increased accessibility.

In addition, Windows 11 SE is cost effective and easy to manage for IT staff, particularly with management features like Intune for Education. This cloud-based mobile device management service is ideal for schools, enabling students to collaborate and stay productive while helping keep the school’s data secure. It also allows educators to quickly deploy apps and tools that help spark student learning while letting IT staff manage users, data, and devices with a single dashboard.

9–12 and higher education students: Windows 11 Pro

One of my favorite things about Windows 11 Pro is its capability to lessen distractions for students. While technology can be a great enabler for education, it is also a main source for entertainment and fun. Of course, I want to encourage students to relax and have some downtime with their personal devices, but I like that Windows 11 Pro has specific features that allow them to stay focused on their projects and homework.

First, Windows 11 Pro has a snap window layout feature for optimal productivity, which can come in handy for hybrid or remote learning. A student can keep their video call on one side of a screen, have note taking on the top half of the other side, and have a group assignment on the bottom half. This is also great for writing essays and doing lab research and group projects that require interaction with other students.

Second, Windows 11 Pro can enable reduced distraction with Focus Assist and the Clock app’s focus sessions. With it, students can work on an assignment without distractions from instant messages, notifications, and pop-ups. This can be a great tool when students are working on homework or studying for tests. The Clock app can also help students track their focus sessions, see their progress, and set alarms for studying goals. I know that there can be a lot of external things that distract students, but if their devices can just limit some of that technical noise, they might have a better chance of staying focused.

Students with disabilities: Windows 11

One of the most productive and inclusive parts of Windows 11 is how it is addressing the disability divide in education. Teachers may not be able to give students with disabilities the extra attention they might sometimes need, especially if a school is underfunded. But Windows 11 can help enable these students to learn at pace with their classmates.

Some examples include the light mode, dark mode, and other colorful themes, which are ideal for those with light sensitivity. Windows 11 also offers closed captions, speech recognition, and talk-to-text for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Tools like the magnifier can help students who have trouble seeing small text on a screen, and keyboard shortcuts can help students who physically have trouble interacting with a keyboard. Like with Windows 11 Pro, Focus Assist can also help students who have trouble focusing or staying on task.

However, most importantly, these accessibility features create an inclusive, equal working environment for all students. Since this assistive technology is compatible with any device with Windows 11, school districts do not have to worry about additional costly plugins and instead can focus on how to best support their students with disabilities.

How IT enables technology to blend in

IT staff have the crucial job of making technology blend in efficiently so that students can learn and educators can teach without interruption from unreliable technologies and underpowered solutions. Especially now in an era where schools have had to suddenly adapt to hybrid or remote learning, IT professionals must enable students with technology that can withstand change.

This is why adequate device management, security, and accessibility are all important for IT professionals to do their job efficiently. And when IT can do their job efficiently, technology runs seamlessly. And when technology runs seamlessly, students can learn with technology as an enabler, not a barrier.