One of the things I tell people when they ask me about why I came to work for Microsoft is that the company has grown up in many ways over the years. One of those ways is in giving back to the community both in general and education in specific. For example, last week it was announced that Microsoft  Is Helping to Launch National Day of GiveCamp. What is Give Camp?

GiveCamp is a weekend-long event where software developers, designers, and database administrators donate their time to create custom software for non-profit organizations. This custom software could be a new website for the nonprofit organization, a small data-collection application to keep track of members, or a application for the Red Cross that automatically emails a blood donor three months after they’ve donated blood to remind them that they are now eligible to donate again. The only limitation is that the project should be scoped to be able to be completed in a weekend.

(Note you can follow Give Camp on Twitter @GiveCamp)

An education specific effort from Microsoft is called EduConnect. @Microsoft_EDU blogged about EduConnect on a blog post titled  Microsoft giving back to schools via EduConnect. This is a program Microsoft has been building to help employees volunteer in and give aid to their own local schools. It’s been growing by leaps and bounds because a lot of Microsoft employees really want to help make education better were they life – and else where.

    A Computer World article called 5 indispensable IT skills of the future has caused a lot of discussion among both educators and professional developers. Are these the right skills and what is the right way for students to get them to prepare for careers. And what does everyone not an IT professional need to know about IT skills?

    Like Puzzles? Check out this new project from Microsoft’s @FUSELabs team http://www.teamcrossword.com/ Short version of what it  is – a chance to work on a crossword puzzle with your friends no matter where in the world they are. Very cool. Also a great example of what cloud applications may look like in the future

      NASA Announces High School Competition for Future Engineers: Design Software for Small Satellites on the Space Station. If you or students you know are interested in space based projects check this out. But do it soon as signups close in a couple of weeks. I have to hand it to NASA as they are really invested in educational programs.

      The Microsoft Kodu team ran Kodu Kamp at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond WA recently. There is a new blog post with lessons and pictures from the events.  By all reports a great time was had by all. besides young students the event included some hands on time for teachers to learn about Kodu and its potential in the classroom.

        My manager, Bob Familiar aka @bobfamiliar on twitter, blogged about Bullet Asylum - Missile Command on steroids for Windows Phone 7. The post includes a video trailer.

        Microsoft Surface meets Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio at U. Mass Lowell. In a nice synergy of Microsoft tools the robotics program at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell uses hand gestures on a Surface device to control the operation of robots. (hat tip Microsoft Robotics Studio blog)

        You can watch the video to see how smoothly it works. Visit the Robotics Lab web site for more information on work in progress.

          Last week I wrote a post for the Educators’ Royal Treatment titled "Do We Need To Teach English In School?" In the article I posit that the arguments that we don’t need to teach computer science in schools to “Digital natives” apply just as well to teaching English to native English language speakers. Comments welcome and encouraged.

          One final reminder, if you are using Twitter I hope you will follow me @AlfredTwo. I’d love to follow you back so send a tweet my way. Thanks.