Perks of the Surface Go for Virtual Feedback

During a routine learning walk last year, I observed a teacher mastering the use of a Surface Go in his Maths lesson. He passed the small computer around the students, who added their equations and workings out via a touch screen pen. These annotations were directly projected onto the main classroom board for the teacher to make further comments on. This ended up being an expensive observation! I left the lesson thinking of all the different ways this technology could be used within a humanities subject, from modelling essays to peer assessment strategies.  

After researching the different styles and sizes, I decided to purchase the Microsoft Surface Go, a small, compact and entirely efficient touch screen computer. I now had this exciting piece of equipment, lots of ideas, students always willing to try new things and then I lost my nerve. I didn’t quite dare break the established routine of my lessons and I just didn’t know where to start! Then lockdown happened, every teacher had to reinvent themselves virtually and I had no choice but to think differently. And I had just the computer to help…

So how does the Surface Go differ from other technology and virtual learning programmes?

1. For face to face feedback with individuals or small groups then Zoom works well. You can share your screen with students and therefore go through PowerPoints or essays. However, I have huge issues with students sharing their locations with me and other students, they could be in their bedrooms or with family members during these meetings, so seeing their faces raises privacy issues for me.

2. For live streamed lessons with comments but no student faces, then YouTube works well. These videos can be unlisted so only students who you share the link with have access, plus you can store and share your video via YouTube for future classes.

3. What is missing from both options though, that the Surface Go provides, is a way to edit a document directly through the touch screen capabilities. This means that you can mark an essay or piece of work like you would normally, the only difference is that you do this onto a word document rather than paper. Now I know that you can highlight and add typed comments to a word document and share your screen via Zoom but this could be tedious and time consuming. The Surface Go allows you to provide written feedback as if a student were sat in front you and the verbal explanation can be recorded or streamed alongside it. This mirrors the feedback interactions given in lessons. This works by combining the Surface Go (writing equipment), filming software (OBS Studio) and YouTube (sharing platform).

So how do you use a Surface Go to give live feedback?

This is when it gets a little complicated but do persevere with it because once it is all set up, it is pretty easy to use (and if I can do it anyone can!). So after weeks of trial and error (and a lot of YouTube tutorials) I worked out how to use OBS Studio, a free downloadable programme that enables you to record or live stream your screen/ self via a sharing platform (YouTube is my choice). Here are my easy steps to get you started:

Open YouTube:

  1. Go to your channel or login
  2. Go to YouTube Studio
  3. Press Go Live
  4. Stream Live Classic
  5. Add your title and subject area: Education
  6. Decide if you wish your stream to be public, unlisted or private
  7. Schedule a time/ date (2-7 are the usual steps completed to live stream on YouTube)
  8. Click update
  9. Copy encoder set up (reveal) – this is important in order to sync up with OBS Studio.
  10. Share link found at the bottom right with students. These tutorials can be streamed privately to one student or to a group of students and are automatically saved for future sharing.

Download/ Open OBS Studio:

  1. Go to settings
  2. Stream
  3. Stream Key – paste encoder set up code – OBS filming is now synced with the streaming platform and enables any comments added on YouTube to be seen on OBS Studio while you film.
  4. Under Sources – make sure you have enabled ‘video capture’ to set up your webcam and ‘display capture’ to enable students to see your computer screen.
  5. Minimise YouTube and OBS Studio and open relevant documents needed for your stream.
  6. Click start streaming on OBS when you are ready and YouTube will start live streaming automatically (you don’t need to click Go Live on YouTube as well).

Note: If you do not wish to live stream or receive student comments, then you can just use OBS Studio to record your video and upload later to a streaming platform.

As we look towards the future of new classroom routines and educational structure, hopefully I will be confident to try out different strategies using my Surface Go. Stay tuned 🙂

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