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SETONHALL-WINDOWS Jul-26-2012 (620 words) xxxn
Seton Hall University's new technology opens new methods of teaching
By Daniel Linskey
Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- On Oct. 26 Microsoft will release its highly anticipated new operating system, Windows 8, but students at Seton Hall University are going to get a chance to try it out weeks before the rest of the world.
On Aug. 27, Seton Hall's incoming freshmen will be starting their new semester complete with Windows 8 and Windows Phone on their laptops, tablets and smartphones.
The company has agreed to let the students at the Catholic university in South Orange, N.J., have early what Siegfried Behrens, general manager of Microsoft US Education, called his company's largest product release.
To run the new operating system, the school will provide new students with either a Samsung Series 7 tablet PC currently running Windows 8 or a Samsung Series 5 laptop with Windows 8. To round out Seton Hall's leap in technology, all incoming freshman also will receive a Nokia Lumia 900 smartphone. Juniors will get their choice of the laptop or tablet.
Windows 8 is designed to be functional on different devices, and Windows Phone is its smartphone counterpart. The intention is to create an ecosystem of technology where every device is able to function fluidly with other devices. Video conference calls can take place in dorm rooms or lecture halls, and group assignments can be written with real-time collaboration.
"We wanted to give Seton Hall students the ability to have a collaborative experience anywhere," Behrens told Catholic News Service July 25 at a Capitol Hill event to announce the initiative.
The new technology will not come at any extra cost to students. Instead, it is the result of partnerships with Microsoft, AT&T, Samsung and Nokia. Some of these partnerships go back 15 years when Seton Hall first began its mobile computing program.
Faculty and administration officials on hand were excited about the new educational prospects the technology will allow. John Shannon, a professor in Seton Hall's Stillman School of Business, gave his perspective.
"My students write their papers, their assignments, their exams on digital platforms," said Shannon, "so when my students write a paper for me, they're able to incorporate from the Web, multimedia and video, to create a learning environment that is unbelievably rich, and that's what I'm excited about."
The impact of Windows 8's mobile connectivity features will be the next step in the evolution of teaching, according to Shannon. "I can contact a colleague of mine in Europe, who is an expert on something, and connect him to the class, and use a video conference on any type of device now. They don't even have to be in the room."
Gabriel Esteban, president of Seton Hall, told CNS. "We view our mission as training the next generation of service leaders. That's part of who we are as a Catholic institution. By providing this to our students, we are teaching them how to use technology. So when they become leaders in their own prospective fields, they know how to analyze technology."
Esteban said part of Seton Hall's obligation as a Catholic university is to make education more available.
"Roughly a third of our students are first-generation college students. They come from very different backgrounds as well. Not everyone can afford the smartphone and the data plan. They're all going to have access to this new technology now," he said.
Giving the students an edge on technology, Esteban believes, will allow them to integrate into an increasingly connected and technology dependent workforce. "Our motto is 'We're leaders, learn,'" he added.
The new technology is a major update, Shannon said, of the Socratic method of teaching. "This is transformative at a level I don't think we've seen since the industrial revolution started in the 1800s," said Shannon.
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