Every since the public announcement of DreamSpark for High School I’ve been getting questions about how DreamSpark fits in with the MSDN Academic Alliance High School program. The answer is that basically the MSDN AA program is designed to provide software for in school and curriculum related activities. DreamSpark is designed to be more direct to students so that they can continue or expand their learning on their own. There is some software included in DreamSpark that is not included in MSDN AA high school. that software is available to schools though the college/university MSDN AA programs and high schools can get those programs if they need them.

So let’s say you have some students who want to do more than what you have in the curriculum. Perhaps they want to get deeply into XNA or perhaps they want to install and manage their own server. or maybe they want to expand their design and/or web development skills with Expression Suite. By signing your school up for DreamSpark and giving out access codes you provide them with the software they need. And oh by the way there is some online training included in the package. So this is more than you may have available or need for that matter from the MSDN AA high school program.

The MSDN AA programs are still the way to get development software for your school labs and for use in your normal (or exceptional :-) ) curriculum. They still let you provide software for students and teachers. They’re just for support of curriculum though.

To save some time I have also blatantly ripped off the High School Administrator FAQ from the DreamSpark web site so you can get more information on that program easily.

High School DreamSpark Administrator FAQ

What is DreamSpark?
DreamSpark provides High School students with professional-level developer and design tools available to students around the world at no charge. These Microsoft tools will help your students advance their learning and skills through technical design, technology, math, science, and engineering activities.
What is the High School?
High School is any upper secondary educational institution.
Are the students in my school eligible to participate?
This benefit is available to all High School students around the world who are attending accredited educational institutions.
How can I offer this benefit to the students in my school?
School Administrators will need to register, help verify their school as an accredited institution using a tool in the DreamSpark website, and agree to certain terms and conditions (which will only come into effect when and only when- your High School has completed the verification and registration process).

As an accredited High School, you may already have all the requirements necessary to do this. You will just be asked to fax copies of accreditation certificate along with your name and contact information to Microsoft. Once your High School’s accreditation status is verified, Microsoft will send you a set of Access Keys to distribute to your enrolled students. DreamSpark will then rely on you to distribute the Access Keys to students who are enrolled in your school and request access to DreamSpark.

I am a High School administrator. How do I get started with the registration process?
Visit www.dreamspark.com. You will find a link to High School, click the link. You will be able to register and place an order for Access Keys (maximum limit of 200 keys per school). This will be followed up with an approval/rejection email. If your institution is approved, your order will be fulfilled.
How do I (Administrator) pass the keys on to my students?
Please provide only one (1) Access Key to each student and maintain a log to record when an Access Key is used. A suggested template will be provided with the Access Keys. Each Access Key provides access to the Dream Spark Download Website and can only be used once. Note that each student will have access to the Dream Spark Download Website for 12 months from date of activation with an Access Key. Attach the Access Key to this link (replace the ‘XXX’ with 1 Access Key from the list. Ensure there is no space between = and the Access Key. https://www.dreamspark.com/Activate?key=SECND-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX

To access the Dream Spark Download Site, please instruct your students to complete the following steps:

  1. Set up a Windows Live ID account for instructions on how to do this please Click here.
  2. Click on the link www.dreamspark.com to access the Dream Spark Download Site
  3. Sign in with a Windows Live ID and password. Note: Each student must remember the Windows Live ID and password that they sign up with for the Dream Spark program for future access to the Dream Spark Download Website.
  4. When requested, input an access code and submit. Access to the Dream Spark Download Website should now be granted.

For any issues regarding access to DreamSpark, please contact Technical Support.

Are there any reporting requirements on Administrator’s part?
No, there are no requirements on the administrator. Since the keys are one-time use only, we do recommend the administrator keeps track of the keys that have been issued.
Is the verification and registration process the same?
No. Registration is when the Administrator signs up for the program via the Order Management tool. Verification is when Microsoft sends them an email letting them know that they are verified and ready to participate in the DreamSpark program.
Do Administrators register every time they need more Access Keys?
Yes, every time Administrators requests for keys they will have to register.
Is there a limit to the amount of keys Administrators can order?
Administrators can request for 200 keys per order.
What happens if Administrator needs more keys?
If Administrators require more keys, they will have to place a new order.
What happens if Administrators need help?
If Administrators have more questions, they contact local Subscription Centers listed on the DreamSpark subscription website at Support