OK so it is already all over the blogosphere that Bill Gates announced a new program called DreamSpark to give software to students. (The official press release is here BTW) So I'm kind of late to the party already. Channel 8 is going to be a key source for developing news on this project so you may want to keep looking over there. (The main DreamSpark site is here.)
In fact to kick it off there is an interview with Bill Gates (in case you were wondering who that guy with Max Zuckerman was) talking about the program and about the future potential of software.
So what is being offered? Glad you asked!
Microsoft developer tools.
Microsoft designer tools. Expression Studio, including:
Microsoft platform resources.
There are two key FAQs.
A couple of questions have come after that. They are probably in the FAQs but maybe you can't wait or maybe they are not. Yeah, that's why I was waiting to blog so I could answer more questions. No really! OK maybe not but it works out well that way.
What about high school?
It's coming. It has a high priority as the next step. Bill Gates says it will happen and that commitment appears several times in the press release and in other official statements. I'll have more information about this as things get settled and information becomes available.
How do students learn how to use this stuff once they have it?
I've got a few resources listed here and I am working on getting more listed. So return often. And if you have some to recommend please leave them in the comments.
What about faculty? What about classroom/course use?
Microsoft is retaining their existing programs for getting software into the classroom and for course/faculty use. The MSDN Academic Alliance program (MSDN AA) is great for getting software for teaching labs, including a lot more than DreamSpark offers students, into the hands of faculty. Also there is the IT Academy program. If you are a faculty member who teaches IT/CS or related topics you really want to check those programs out. MSDN AA and IT Academy are both programs that already include high schools in case you were not aware of that.
Faculty can also get access to software though the Faculty Connection sites.
PingBack from http://teaching.thefinanceworld.co.uk/2008/02/20/dreamspark-microsoft-gives-software-to-students-for-academic-use/
I think this is very exciting news. I happened to attend a university that already was a member of MSDNAA back in 2001-2004, so I had access to this sort of software. I really appreciate now, as a teacher, just how vital being able to use that software at home really was. This should open up software to any student, not just those lucky enough to attend a university with MSDNAA. I hope the high school support comes in soon, since I know I will be publicizing it to my students.