Maximizing Student Engagement With The XP-PEN And Microsoft Education Apps
contributed by XP-PEN Graphics Tablets
This post is sponsored by XP-Pen, manufacturers of a range of drawing tablets for artists, students, and other creative professionals. They have tutorials and eLearning resources for teachers here and are also Chromebook-compatible. You can read more about our affiliate and sponsored content policies here.
XP-Pen’s Deco mini7W ($59.99)is light, portable, and WiFi-ready. The Star G640 ($39.99) is a also great primary-level option as it is designed for gameplay, writing, drawing, and sketching at an inexpensive price. Older students may benefit from the Deco 01 V2 ($69.99) with its bigger surface and more space to create and problem-solve.
While the abrupt switch from in-person to remote and/or hybrid learning may have flummoxed educators at the start of the pandemic, many teachers came to view the challenge as an opportunity to grow their experience in using digital tools to boost student engagement.
Microsoft Education apps include a trove of free digital educational tools and services for modern teachers determined to spark student creativity and collaboration in the curriculum. Many educators may be familiar with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, which are the equivalents to Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Some teachers may have used Microsoft Teams as a video conferencing call app for their virtual classes. These tools have revolutionized the way educators present content and foster group problem-solving.
One of their apps — Microsoft Whiteboard — is built for interaction and tactile learning. Microsoft Whiteboard provides a user-friendly canvas for capturing and developing ideas and organizing thoughts. In a time of working remotely, the Microsoft Whiteboard can help reconstruct the experience of collaborating in a shared work, school, or community setting.
Microsoft Whiteboard features several ‘inking’ tools: pens, an eraser, a ruler, a lasso (for capturing elements), and an undo/redo capacity. It is compatible with a mouse, touchscreen, or stylus. Used in tandem with devices like the XP-PEN tablet, a portable, wireless device equipped with a stylus and drawing pad, teachers can implement curriculum in ways that give students the opportunity to share and discuss their creative ideas and solutions in a kinesthetic, low-stakes way, with emphasis on collaboration as the means and the end of the lesson objective. The XP-PEN tablet simplifies and enlivens tasks like concept mapping, solving mathematical equations and word problems, and creating a storyboard.
Using the XP-PEN tablet in conjunction with Microsoft Education apps amplifies their potential for increasing student learning and engagement. We recommend the lightweight and easily transportable Deco mini 7W, the Star G640 (which is great for gaming and drawing), and the Deco 01 V2, which has a larger screen more conducive for collaborative problem-solving.
Minecraft: Education Edition is a digital game environment ideal for group work and creative problem-solving. Students can also capture and share their work in class. Using the Deco 01 V2 XP-PEN tablet with the Minecraft: Education Edition app, students can build an entire ecosystem and analyze how it changes based on the extinction of certain plant and animal species. The large-screened Deco 01 V2 is perfect for cultivating the immersive feel of the simulation and inspiring the realization that students in the classroom (and humans in general) have an impact on other living species. Participating in a simulation where students can sustain an ecosystem and its inhabitants may inspire a student to more actively pursue the solutions to society’s problems.
Microsoft OneNote enables users to curate digital artifacts and collaborate with other users. Digital artifacts can include notes, drawings, screen captures, audio recordings, and other files. Many teachers used Microsoft OneNote as a digital binder for students learning in-person and remotely. Compatible with a mouse or XP-PEN tablet, students can complete assignments created by teachers in real-time — no need to worry about exchanging or losing physical lesson plan resources. They can also design a personalized cover for their digital binder, upload illustrations, pictures, and music videos, and highlight their favorite inspirational quotes.
Hololens are a brand of augmented reality ‘smart glasses’ that use holographic processing to blend with the environment. Teachers can use holograms to show visual information and processes, blend in with reality, or simulate a virtual reality. With the Deco 01 V2 XP-PEN tablet, students can create a life-size model of a chromosome, analyze human or animal anatomy through digital dissection, and assemble parts of a large machine.
Microsoft Word allows users to create, edit, view, and send your files to others. Users can also upload pictures, create tables and drawings within the document. The Star G640 XP-PEN tablet is particularly useful for the Drawing feature. ELA and Art teachers can create an interdisciplinary unit where students write and illustrate a personal narrative. Students learning a foreign language can translate terms and draw visuals to represent their meanings. The Star G640 is best suited for projects that involve drawing, mapping, and writing out ideas.
Teachers and students can use Microsoft PowerPoint to both create and navigate engaging slideshow presentations for remote teaching and blended learning. With the Deco 01 V2 XP-PEN tablet, students can interact with content on a large touchscreen device that is more conducive for solving equations, diagraming their thinking, and illustrating concepts.
The Microsoft Teams app allows collaborators to transition from group chat to video calling conferences. Additionally, users can access, share, co-create, and organize secure files and calendar events. Like many other video conference call services, Microsoft Teams allows teachers and students to collaborate in real-time — as an entire class, in smaller groups, or one-on-one. With the Deco mini 7W tablet, you can access a Microsoft Teams meeting from any location. Students can write, edit, annotate, and revise files, as well as share their screens in real-time.
The Microsoft Education initiative views technology as integral to learning, and desires to help prepare students for the abundant technology-centered jobs of the future that will require their strong digital literacy skills.
XP-PEN tablets take the ease of use and accessibility of Microsoft Education apps and profoundly increases their potential for capturing students’ attention, promoting collaboration, and encouraging students to take creative risks. Whether attending school in-person or remotely, the XP-PEN tablets provide students with a greater sense of ownership and camaraderie in their learning.