May, 2012 - Microsoft UK Faculty Connection - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

May, 2012


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Touch Develop Programming directly on Windows Phone



    Touchdevelop is an ideal teaching tools for schools, touch develop allows you to program a Windows Phone directly.  You do not need a separate PC. Scripts can perform various tasks similar to regular apps. Any TouchDevelop user can install, run, edit, and publish scripts. You can share your scripts with other people by publishing them to the TouchDevelop script bazaar, or by submitting them as an app to the Windows Phone Marketplace.



    How its being used for Education

    Ninety eighth-grade students at Mill Creek Middle School in Kent, Washington, learned how to write smartphone programs with TouchDevelop, a Microsoft Research programming environment that enables users to create and test programs on Windows Phone. Most of the students had no prior experience with programming, but after tinkering with TouchDevelop for an hour, students came up with a variety of innovative and fun programs that they proudly demonstrated to their peers. 

    More about TouchDevelop

    Teach TouchDevelop Resources

    Resources and Book on TouchDevelopment

    Discuss and stay up-to-date
    Contact the TouchDevelop Team
  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    FREE Ebooks from Microsoft Press


    Microsoft Press have a number of FREE Ebooks now available covering topics from SQL Server 2012, Office 2010 and Windows Phone, there is something here for everyone. 

    Many of our free ebooks are offered in three formats - PDF, Mobi (Kindle) and epub. Hope you find them useful!

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    clip_image008 clip_image009 clip_image010Moving to Visual Studio 2010Programming Windows Phone 7

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Research Social Networks for Learning


    Developed by the team behind KODO, an elegant and simple visual programming language, is now open for registrations. offers a unique take on search and social networking and is designed to give students the ability to network with their peers and both share information and collaborate more easily online.


    More importantly, is designed to offer a secure environment for students to discover new topics of interest and share this with their classmates and beyond. A global classroom or study group is potentially now only a click away!

    Users log in to the network with their Facebook or Windows Live accounts, and are then presented with a range of topic areas that they can learn more about and share with their friends and wider network. Search being a focal point of the service also makes it easy to find new content based around the topics they are currently studying or passionate about and add these to their profile page. Furthermore, the addition of a "bookmarklet" makes sharing additional content that users discover online to their network a simple and streamlined process.

    The ability to add and curate video parties and collaborate around this content with friends is a also a particularly compelling and interesting feature and look forward to seeing how this is embraced within the community.

    Ultimately, with research now primarily being carried out online offers learners an interesting aggregation tool to collect and share the resources they discover on Facebook and Wikipedia etc to fellow learners and likeminded connections on the site. We will be watching the service closely and will be sharing additional content on the blog over the coming weeks.

    In the meantime, you can learn more about over at

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Kinect SDK 1.5



    We are pleased to announce that we have released version 1.5 of the Kinect for Windows runtime and SDK. 

    Additionally, Kinect for Windows hardware is now available in Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan. Starting next month, Kinect for Windows hardware will be available in 15 additional countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, India, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. When this wave of expansion is complete, Kinect for Windows will be available in 31 countries around the world. 

    Go to our Kinect for Windows website to find a reseller in your region.

    We have added more capabilities to help developers build amazing applications, including:

    • Kinect Studio, our new tool which allows developers to record and play back Kinect data, dramatically shortening and simplifying the development lifecycle of a Kinect application. Now a developer writing a Kinect for Windows application can record clips of users in the application’s target environment and then replay those clips at a later time for testing and further development.
    • A set of Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) to guide developers on best practices for the creation of Natural User Interfaces using Kinect.
    • The Face Tracking SDK, which provides a real-time 3D mesh of facial features—tracking the head position, location of eyebrows, shape of the mouth, etc.
    • Significant sample code additions and improvements.  There are many new samples in both C++ and C#, plus a “Basics” series of samples with language coverage in C++, C#, and Visual Basic.
    • SDK documentation improvements, including new resources as well as migration of documentation to MSDN for easier discoverability and real-time updates.

    We have continued to expand and improve our skeletal tracking capabilities in this release:

    Kinect for Windows SDK v1.5 offers 10-joint head/shoulders/arms skeletal tracking

    Seated Skeletal Tracking is now available. This tracks a 10-joint head/shoulders/arms skeleton, ignoring the leg and hip joints. It is not restricted to seated positions; it also tracks head/shoulders/arms when a person is standing. This makes it possible to create applications that are optimized for seated scenarios (such as office work with productivity software or interacting with 3D data) or standing scenarios in which the lower body isn’t visible to the sensor (such as interacting with a kiosk or when navigating through MRI data in an operating room).

    • Skeletal Tracking is supported in Near Mode, including both Default and Seated tracking modes. This allows businesses and developers to create applications that track skeletal movement at closer proximity, like when the end user is sitting at a desk or needs to stand close to an interactive display.

    We have made performance and data quality enhancements, which improve the experience of all Kinect for Windows applications using the RGB camera or needing RGB and depth data to be mapped together (“green screen” applications are a common example):

    • Performance for the mapping of a depth frame to a color frame has been significantly improved, with an average speed increase of 5x.
    • Depth and color frames will now be kept in sync with each other. The Kinect for Windows runtime continuously monitors the depth and color streams and corrects any drift.
    • RGB Image quality has been improved in the RGB 640x480 @30fps and YUV 640x480 @15fps video modes. The image quality is now sharper and more color-accurate in high and low lighting conditions.

    New capabilities to enable avatar animation scenarios, which makes it easier for developers to build applications that control a 3D avatar, such as Kinect Sports.

    Kinect for Windows skeletal tracking is supported in near mode, including both default and seated tracking modes


    • Kinect for Windows runtime provides Joint Orientation information for the skeletons tracked by the Skeletal Tracking pipeline. 
    • The Joint Orientation is provided in two forms:  A Hierarchical Rotation based on a bone relationship defined on the Skeletal Tracking joint structure, and an Absolute Orientation in Kinect camera coordinates.


    A video introduction to v1.5 is live on Channel 9

    The Kinect for windows website has been significantly updated, including new and updated developer resources:

    Updated docs which are now 100% on MSDN

    Human Interface Guidelines which helps developers get started with NUI interaction design

    Video how-to’s for an easy introduction to the SDK capabilities

    Download the SDK here

    Thank you all for your interest, enthusiasm, questions, and feedback – your contributions are a key part of making the product great.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    SketchFlow – Sketching and Prototyping in Expression Blend


    I had a interesting discussion this morning with a business school looking at introducing Mobile App development one of the key things within their assessment is the proof of prototypes and wireframes we got onto discussing the opportunity and advantages of using Microsoft Expression, SketchFlow.

    SketchFlow addresses three pain points in software sketching and prototyping:

    It makes it easier to experiment with ideas for dynamic user interaction.
    It facilitates communication of design ideas and intent between designers and other stakeholders.
    It makes it easier to gather, evaluate and use stakeholder feedback on design ideas.

    Sketchflow is a fun, informal, flexible, quick and powerful way to sketch and prototype rich, dynamic interactivity with Expression Blend.



    The mission of the Expression team is to help designers to create great user experiences. We believe that this mission needs to begin with the early exploration phases of design. SketchFlow,

    SketchFlow is a set of tools for Expression Blend to create sketches and prototypes of interactive content and applications, giving Blend a new role in pre-production and design phases of the development process.

    SketchFlow is informal and quick, enabling you to sketch out plentiful ideas for dynamic interactions in a cost effective manner. SketchFlow also supports the evolution of your rough sketches into living and breathing prototypes that can be as real as you need them to be.

    SketchFlow is part of Expression Blend so FREE from

    Throughout the software industry, we historically have not spent much effort on the earlier stages of design. This lack of upfront investment in design often leads to increased cost due to a need for expensive rework at a later stage and to products that may not satisfy our customers.

    Great design for software needs a great design process, and ways to make the exploration, communication and evaluation of interaction and design fast and effective are an important part of great process.


    Sketching, and, at a slightly later stage of the design process, prototyping, are wonderful techniques to explore a multitude of ideas quickly, without excessive investment and emotional attachment. Software interaction is highly dynamic, and over the last years we have consistently have pushed more in the direction of rich, dynamic visuals and interaction methods. Expectations have risen greatly. However, it is far from easy to create meaningful design studies and sketches of dynamic interactivity entirely with traditional tools. There are many reasons for that, including the fact that most design tools have been created as production tools, focused on the creation of final production assets, where precision, quality and finish matter. Another reason is that most tools still treat UI as something that is just a small derivation from an otherwise static comp.


    Gathering feedback

    SketchFlow provides a way to showcase your prototype to others using the SketchFlow Player. The SketchFlow Player allows you to explore the prototype from the first moment on, even while it consists of nothing but a few rough sketches. The player lets you navigate your prototype, run animations that illustrate how your prototype might work, or switch into different states of your UI, all without wiring up actual UI elements. This lowers the cost of evaluating ideas in early stages before much expense has been incurred.

    But showing a prototype to others is only part of the review process, so the SketchFlow Player provides tools to collect feedback from reviewers. Reviewers can provide feedback either as text, like the comments in the Feedback tab in the screenshot below, or as ink, like the red arrow in the screenshot below. Then you can incorporate this feedback into the prototype using the Feedback panel in Expression Blend, allowing you to iterate on your design using suggestions from your team.


    Tutorials on Sketchflow

    For more information, watch a video on Sketchflow

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    City and Guilds Conference June 26th 2012


    cloud power

    In recent months Cloud has become a hot topic.  But what is it?  What are the implications for business and how do you train or up-skill staff to deal with it?
    If you want to know what Cloud is and is not, City & Guilds is providing the opportunity to meet and listen to key players in the world of Cloud.  Major Vendors from the industry will provide an insight in how to handle Cloud, while leading Industry Certification partners will show what they are offering in terms of learning and assessment.


    People do not have to be technically minded to be affected by Cloud, but many presume it is complicated and requires major change to infrastructure.  The City & Guilds ICT Conference will help you decide if they are right and provide the opportunity to find support for other areas of ICT learning.

    This free conference will start at 9.30 and finish at 4pm.  The venue  is Microsoft Offices in Thames Valley Park in Reading
    Please note:  There is a maximum of two delegates per centre

    What's the event about?

    Knowledge and practical actions to show what City & Guilds and its Vendor partners have to help centres, employers and learners get to grips with Cloud and other aspects of learning ICT for users and professionals.

    Who should attend?

    ICT/Business Management Tutors, Curriculum Leaders, Heads of Department for ICT and Business, whether in an FE College or Private Training Provider.  Also businesses that are trying to understand what Cloud is all about and to find centres that can help in this and other areas of ICT training...


    Location - Microsoft Offices, Reading

    Date - 26 June 2012

    Event Code - MST260612RD   



    To book simply click here using the event references above. If you have any queries, please contact Sue Bridge, Customer Support Events Coordinator on 01924 206777 or email:

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    FREE .NET Gadgeteer Curricula for Schools and Colleges




    .NET Gadgeteer can be used in schools to help students make gadgets and learn C# programming along the way. These lesson plans give teachers all the material needed to run 8 1-hour sessions using .NET Gadgeteer. You will also need the hardware, details of which are given at

    The material consists of 8 sessions relating to 3 projects:

    • School Project 1: Building a digital camera
    • School Project 2: Creating a stop watch
    • School Project 3: Creating a game

    The aim of each session is:

    • Session 1: A basic digital camera
      • Put together the hardware components needed to make a basic digital camera
      • Write the code needed to create a basic digital camera
    • Session 2: Extending the camera (part 1)
      • Extend the digital camera to use the LED to indicate when the camera can take a picture
      • Further extend the digital camera to save pictures to an SD Card
    • Session 3: Extending the camera (part 2)
      • Extend the digital camera to read the pictures from the SD Card and display the names of the pictures on the display
      • Further extend the camera such that the pictures are saved using the next available number
      • Further extend the digital camera to count the number of pictures and show a slideshow of the pictures on the SD Card
    • Session 4: Creating a stop watch
      • Create a stop watch with two buttons
    • Session 5: Extending the stop watch
      • Extend the stop watch so that it includes a larger font
      • Add a visual interface to the stop watch
      • Add the touch screen so that there are on-screen buttons rather than hardware buttons to start, stop and reset the counter
    • Session 6: Create a simple game using the joystick (part 1)
      • Use the joystick to move a ball around the screen
      • Create a simple game where the ball has to be moved into a container on the screen
    • Session 7: Create a simple game using the joystick (part 2)
      • Extend the simple game created in Session 6 to place the ball in a container and keep a score
    • Session 8: Create a simple game using the joystick (part 3)
      • Complete the joystick ball-in-a-box game, consolidating previous skills
      • Encourage students to explore how they could implement their own ideas for a gadget
    Download FREE Curricula and resources for teaching, learning and research from /faculty  
  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Building Windows 8 Apps in the curricula



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    Last week Geoff and I attended a number of University graduation showcase events across the country, firstly thank you for the invites and its great to see the outcomes of students projects and the use of Microsoft Technology. A number of students and academics also asked me some interesting questions in relation to the development of Windows 8 and specifically how to include some aspects of Windows 8 Metro into the curriculum. One of the easiest ways of implementing Windows 8 into your teaching is to simply add in a small work item of converting an existing app to Metro as a learning exercise, this may also be great a MSc or MPhil project for an existing application or service.

    There are a lot of useful resources out there on porting existing applications to Metro apps, a successfully ported app will of course run beautifully on Windows 8 and this may be a great way of introducing/exposing students to the Metro UI and design principles:

    Design-focused articles

    Porting a website

    • Migrating a web app to Metro app – this short article is focused on development and conversion of a front-end web app to a Metro app using HTML/JavaScript
    • Migrating a website to Metro app – this short article is focused on development and discusses some back-end considerations like communication, streaming, security, client package deployment, data sharing, and syndication

    Porting a Windows Phone app

    Hope the above give you some food for thought of how you may start thinking about the opportunities of Windows 8 and the Metro UI.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Learn all about Running Applications with SQL 2012 at TechEd Europe



    With only Four weeks to go! TechEd Europe in Amsterdam!  Will you be there to get up to speed on Microsoft latest technologies and tool sets?

    Follow all the latest discussion on Twitter #TEE12

    TechEd Europe on Facebook

    Reserve Your In-Person Experience At TechEd Europe 2012

    With TechEd North America selling out, consider joining thousands of your global peers at TechEd Europe 2012 in Amsterdam, NL from June 26-29th.  Use the extra time to plan your travel, organize your agenda, study for exams, arrange connections with others from around the globe, and optimize your in-person attendance at one of Microsoft’s premier technology events.  Register now.

    Learn All About Running Applications with SQL Server's Data Platform at TechEd Europe

    Dive into the 40+ learning opportunities from the Database & Business Intelligence track and see how to get the most from your SQL Server as well as analyze the data using the Microsoft BI platform.  Hear from Brent Ozar as he boils it all down to speed in his session Building the Fastest Microsoft SQL Servers.  Enjoy the return of BI Power Hour, an entertaining session by Matthew Roche and Riccardo Muti. Explore performance with Denny Cherry in Optimizing Microsoft SQL Server Performance in a Virtual Environment. Spend 75 minutes on the Hadoop stack with Gert Drapers as he speaks on Big Data, Big Deal? And be able to answer, “Who accessed your sensitive tables in the last week?" or "What has your administrator changed in the past month?" after hearing Il-Sung Lee talk about Auditing in Microsoft SQL Server 2012.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    F# in Education & Innovation Workshop




    The F# for Education and Innovation workshop will be held at the University of Pisa on June 28, 2012. The free, one-day workshop provides a forum for attendees to learn and explore the use of F# 3.0 for education, research, and industry. Don Syme, from Microsoft Research Cambridge, will present the keynote session. The workshop will highlight the latest developments for information-rich programming in F# 3.0, delivered through Microsoft Visual Studio 11 and Try F#. The workshop is preceded by a free F# tutorial session on June 27. If you are interested in attending this workshop, please register here F# for Education and Innovation Workshop

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