• Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    March 12, 2013 – One day in the cloud that could change the trajectory of your career

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    As the cloud transforms IT, the need for qualified IT professionals has never been more urgent, and certification has never been more valuable. Registration is now open for Certified Career Day, an interactive LIVE event for IT professionals.

    Attendees will join a Live Industry Panel Broadcast comprised of industry experts who will discuss how the cloud is redefining IT recruitment and the growing need for certification. Then, Microsoft Product Specialists will host Live Product Sessions—in-depth depth discussions on Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012 that will help attendees learn how to prepare to get ahead of the inevitable shift to cloud-based technologies.

    So do you…

    Want to be a leader in Cloud technologies?

    Need training and tools you can use now?

    Join us for Certified Career Day on March 12 at 8:30AM PDT 16:30 GMT

    Registartion and further details here http://www.certifiedcareerday.com

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows 8 and Azure at Derby University

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    Guest blog by Gerald Haigh 18 February 2013 seeing first hand students achievements with Windows 8 in the curriculum.

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    Anyone – teacher, parent, student – who thinks degree level computer programming must be a boring affair should have been with me at Derby University’s Microsoft sponsored ‘Games@Derby Expo’ the other week. Held in the big atrium at the main Kedleston Road site, the Expo featured dozens of games and apps created by students so it’s not difficult to imagine the scene as crowds of students, high on success and enthusiasm, gathered round the big screens.

    My main reason for being there, though, was focussed on one particular screen displaying Windows 8 apps created by final year students of both the Computer Games Programming and Computer Science degrees. The task, one of the assessments for a final year module, was to develop a Windows 8 application that met the Microsoft certification requirements for release to the Windows Store. (Some, in fact, have made it to the store.)

    ‘We left it deliberately open-ended,’ says senior lecturer Wayne Rippin, ‘Challenging the imagination as well as their technical ability.’

    Before visiting the Expo, I had a long talk to Wayne about computer science at Derby. It quickly became apparent that Microsoft technologies have a key role to play in an innovative department focussed on producing creative, enterprising and highly employable graduates.

    DreamSpark

    ‘It’s important that the tools we give them are the ones they will use in industry once they leave University,’ says Wayne. ‘ Microsoft DreamSpark http://www.dreamspark.com allows us to do that affordably.’

    In particular, he says, the department’s labs are, as Wayne puts it,

    ‘Set up with the latest Windows technologies. We’re very aware that when the students go out into the world that’s what they’ll be working with. We were among the first with Windows 7 and so we wanted to give students early exposure to Windows 8. For us it’s an implementation platform that enables us to try different techniques in practice as well as in theory.’

    The module has proved a real success, he says.

    ‘Students like being able to use Windows 8 and to have an assignment that allows them to create an app that others can use.’

    As he says, it clearly ticks the employability box.

    ‘Imagine a student with a Windows Store app applying for a job and being able to say, “I wrote that. Would you like to try it out?”’

    Sixty five students from the two degree courses completed the app development module, says Wayne.

    ‘The overall quality was very good. At the Expo we’re showing thirteen apps, all of which have met the Windows Store requirements.’

    Leading on from that, second year students are now studying an application development module, the platform for which is also Windows 8.

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    A considerable advantage here lies in the cost-effective availability for students of Microsoft’s ‘Azure’ cloud platform see http://www.windowsazure.com/education

    As Wayne explains,

    ‘They can have their own webspace, virtual machines, everything in the cloud so we don’t have to deal with web hosting. For example they can have admin access to their own space where typically in a university situation if we provide webspace we can’t give admin access. Azure gives us much more flexibility and ability to do things as in the real world.’

    I had a quick look at some of the student apps shown at the Expo, such as Kevin Chandler’s ‘London Transport Info’ which pulls together published feeds about buses and trains in the Capital, integrating it all into something really useful. A nice touch is the live tile on the start screen that keeps up to date with problems. I also saw Christopher Morley’s ‘Project Smash’, a game which adds a twist by incorporating live weather information as one of the variables to be negotiated. And, too, there was Karn Bianco’s mind-bending ‘Sliding Blocks’ and Luc Shelton’s ‘Meme Factory’ for creating internet memes. I had a chat to Luc at the Expo about his app and he explained that there’s already plenty of activity around memes on the internet, and what he wanted to was to produce something very functional, using the features of Windows 8.

    ‘For example I made use of the Charm Bar – sharing, searching, settings, so that users can customise the experience.’

    Thinking about the independent learning aspect of the task, I wondered if he’d had to ask for help at any point.

    ‘Once, I thought I’d got to email Wayne,’ he said, ‘But I decided I had to persevere on my own.’

    That self-driven approach was evident in each of the students I met, as was the determination to exploit the available technology. Luke Chester’s app, for example, ‘Memory Bank’ is actually a multi-media scrapbook, a place to drop thoughts, ideas, photographs. Like Luc, he’s exploited the Charm Bar as well as Bing Maps and GPS. What makes this app particularly attractive is the Windows 8 feature that allows it to be brought up while another app is being used, so it’s possible to add a very quick thought that occurs as it always does, when you’re in the middle of something else. Luke’s Memory Bank app is now available on the Windows Store - http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-US/app/memory-bank/8b08e5b2-f358-430e-a8c8-eabdf50dd69a

    The students view

    With schools in mind, I asked some of the students about their back stories. I found that Luc Shelton, for example, had arrived via an FE course that armed him with the right number of UCAS points. Karn Bianco did humanities at school, and kept all of his programming interests to his spare time. Now he’s found what he was looking for.

    ‘I wanted problem solving, and I didn’t get any of that at school.’

    In fact it’s important not to miss the pedagogical lessons that emerge from a course that’s run like the undergraduate programming degrees at Derby.

    ‘There’s no such thing as teaching to the test here,’ says Wayne. ‘We encourage independent learning. The student who sits and just listens to the lectures will pass, but if they want to get a good grade, they have to really demonstrate their ability to learn for themselves.‘

    Open ended assignments play a big part in this, he says.

    ‘We give them the minimum standard they need to pass and then to get the top grade they almost need to wow us. Really there are no constraints.’

    The thought is echoed by Dr Tommy Thompson, who leads BSc Computer Games Programming.

    Describing the project leading up to the Expo, where students had been given twelve weeks to develop a game to show, he says,

    ‘In the real world it would take two or three years. Some of them put in a ridiculous amount of time. There was an interesting moment when students asked me whether I thought I had overworked them. But they conceded that the problem really lay with their own expectations.’

    From the teacher’s point of view, says Tommy, it’s an ideal position to be in,

    ‘They want to be here. They have a passion for the programming.’

    That means, though, that their expectations of teaching are high.

    ‘We have to meet that, and always try to throw something at them that they’re not expecting.’

    I was interested, too, in Tommy’s insight into who are the successful students and the fact that it’s not necessarily about technical ability.

    ‘There are some in all years who, regardless of ability, have a fantastic maturity of general approach to taking the curriculum seriously.’

    Very clearly, what gives the teachers on such a course the necessary high credibility with their students is their record of long-term and continuing engagement with the industry. Tommy puts it briefly and clearly when he says,

    ‘We don’t just look at the application, we look at the code, and we’re people who’ve looked at code for a living.’

    This, in turn, means that courses are run with a continuing eye on employability. Both degrees are sandwich courses and, says Wayne,

    ‘Some students set up their own company during their placement year. The thing that’s changed for software development is the way the app stores have made it easier and cheaper to publish applications and make them available to a wide audience, so it becomes an interesting exercise to set a goal of producing a publishable app.’

    The enterprise aspects aren’t neglected either.

    ‘A key thing about this university is that a lot of the staff have real industry experience so a lot of the advice we give is not just about the programming. It’s about how to set up a company, creating business plans, and so on’

    This was one visit that gave me a lot to think about. I’m pretty sure, for example, that what’s happening in computer science at Derby, and no doubt at other universities such as UCL (we’ve covered their work extensively already) carries lessons for teachers of every level and subject about independent learning, motivation, creativity, and credible, real-world-relevant teaching.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Global Windows Azure Bootcamp Day in the UK – Registration now open

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    Welcome to Global Windows Azure Bootcamp! On April 27th, 2013, you’ll have the ability to join a Windows Azure Bootcamp.

    Learn about locations, install the necessary prerequisites and get excited!

    This one day deep dive class will get you up to speed on developing for Windows Azure.

    The class includes a trainer with deep real world experience with Windows Azure, as well as a series of labs so you can practice what you just learned.

    How much does it cost?

    This event is FREE to the attendees.

    How do I attend one?

    Find a location close to where you live. Click through to see the details for that class and then register. Keep in mind you will need to bring your own laptop to do the labs.

    London http://azurelondonbootcamp2013.eventbrite.com/

    Manchester http://azuremanchesterbootcamp2013.eventbrite.com/

    Bradford http://www.blackmarble.co.uk/events.aspx?event=Global Windows Azure Boot Camp

    The UK Windows Azure User Group will be running two bootcamps for beginners in Windows Azure which will take delegates from no knowledge to deploying a cloud service with storage, data and security support.

    The closing session will focus on building diagnostics into a package and creating continuous deployments through the various service management APIs and tools like the CLI and Powershell. Exercises will be run in both in C# and Java in both Visual Studio and Eclipse.

    London, 27 April: http://azurelondonbootcamp2013.eventbrite.com/

    Manchester, 27 April: http://azuremanchesterbootcamp2013.eventbrite.com/

    Want to get access to Azure Resources for Teaching Learning and Research?

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    What do I need to bring?

    You will need to bring your own laptop and have it preloaded with the software listed here. Please do the installation upfront as there will be no time to troubleshoot installations during the day.

    Is this for beginners?

    Yes and no. The local trainers will use the Windows Azure Training Kit to guide you to the basics.

    More details

    See the Web site for more details http://globalwindowsazure.azurewebsites.net/

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    IEEE Hosting TouchDevelop Webinar

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    Touchdevelop

    TouchDevelop Web App Webinar Hosted by IEEE CS Society

    The age of keyboards and mice is coming to an end, touch is the new way to interact with computing devices.

    But can you write code by using touch? With TouchDevelop you can! You can now develop useful software for your touch-enabled devices while sitting in a bus or waiting in line.

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    So pull out your smartphone or tablet and start programming with TouchDevelop. IEEE CS Society is hosting a related webinar, Developing Mobile Apps on the Go—TouchDevelop for all Platforms, on February 21 at 11:00 A.M. PST 19:00 GMT. Learn more or register.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Scirra Construct2 a tool for students to rapidly develop games for Windows 8

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    Guest blog by Andrew Wilson, Course Director, BSc (Hons) Computer Games Technology, Birmingham City University

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    Introducing students to the processes of game development that is designing, prototyping, play testing and refining the original idea has to be fun and engaging. Many students joining game development courses such as ours at Birmingham City University have little exposure to programming and can be frustrated by not being able to develop their game ideas as quickly as they hoped.

    Therefore to complement the teaching of software development tools such as Microsoft XNA Game Studio, MonoGame or Unity3D we need tools where our students can quickly produce fun playable games and which they can learn very quickly.

    As an experiment in 2012 a group of first year students were asked to develop a mobile game based on a brief set by a local independent games studio Distorted Poetry. The students were allowed to use a tool of their choice as long as it was free and that they were comfortable with teaching it to themselves. Teaching other people is one of the best ways of learning and an approach we encourage and cultivate on the BSc Computer Games Technology course a skill that has rewarded several of our students with employment in local games studios.

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    The 2012 teams predominately chose Scirra’s Construct2 as developing games in HTML5 was high on their agenda. Construct2 is a very nice tool to learn game development without the overhead of learning complex coding practises. Once the students mastered the environment they quickly developed game ideas within a few hours.

    Construct2 game Soul survivor developed by first year BCU Computer Games Technology students (2102)

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    This year’s first years were given the challenge of developing a Construct2 game for Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2013. They have just completed their prototypes and are in the process of play-testing their games.

    Their ideas are clever and innovative and demonstrates how easy Construct2 is to learn and what is achievable with it

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    First year Computer Games Technology (2013) prototypes for this year’s Microsoft Imagine Cup

    Deploying to different platforms has also been made incredible easy with the export function and can be published onto the Windows 8 App store which is available to students via dreamspark. A great addition that helps students develop their portfolio of published games which is very important for a career as a games developer.

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    Usman Mohammad, a second year Computer Games Technology student, is working on a Birmingham City University Student Academic Partner Programme.

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    This scheme is a unique partnership involving the Students' Union and Birmingham City University. The scheme topped the 2010 Times Higher Education (THE) Awards in the ‘Outstanding Support for Students’ category. Usman is working on developing a workshop using Construct2 which can be used in our University’s outreach and master class programmes, where school and college students can have an introduction to games development and experience studying in our University.

    So well done to Scirra and we hope you keep producing such an excellent teaching tool.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Get FREE certification exam for 70-480: Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3

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    html5 Win8_logo

    Exam 70-480: Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3, you complete the requirements for the following certification(s):

    counts as credit toward the following certification(s):

    • MCSD: Web Applications
    • MCSD: Windows Store Apps using HTML5


    Use code : HTMLJMP for a free exam credit, the exam will normally cost £99.


    After passing 70-480, you will be given a certification for Microsoft Specialist and this is one of the three exams which will ultimately certify you as MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solution Developer).

    MCSD is one tier above MCSA (Associate) and is a respectable title in the field of web development.

    Exam registration: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exam.aspx?id=70-480
    Link for free online training: https://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/tracks/developing-html5-apps-jump-start?o=1943
    Link to MCSD page: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/mcsd.aspx

    This offer is available for a limited time only until March 2013 and is open to IT Academy members also so all students undertaking a course can sit a free exam at  any prometric testing centre.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Are you a gaming student? Want to be Mobile App Developer? Want to be an Indie? Do you need £10,000? Get building your portfolio and win an awesome prize

    • 2 Comments

    Rapid2D £10,000 Competition
    Want to be a Mobile App Developer Do you need £10,000?


    If so, we have a competition that could provide you with just that! Rapid2D, the brand new Game Engine (which is designed specifically for developing on the Windows 8 platform) is running a competition which has a first prize of £10,000. That's a serious amount of money! The competition involves making a number of apps for the Windows 8 Marketplace.

    Rules

    Each entry can be an individual or a team; the competition rules, terms and conditions are the same whether you enter as an individual or a team. If entering as a team, the maximum number of people allowed in any one team is SIX, including the team captain. Each entry - whether the entrant is an individual or a team - must publish a minimum of FIVE apps per entry in order to be entered for the prize draw and have the chance of winning the first prize of £10,000. If 6 or more games are published, the individual or team will receive one additional entry into the prize draw.

    Team area

    When you enter the competition you will be given access to a team progress area where you can enter the names and statuses of the games as they are produced. Please note that you must self-publish every app you produce to the UK Windows 8 Store. Just entering the name and status of the game on your progress page within Rapid2D does not constitute publishing the app. You must publish every app to the UK Windows 8 Store in order for it to be considered for this competition.

    Closing

    The closing date for app publication to the UK Windows 8 Store is 11:59:59pm GMT on 2nd April 2013. All apps which are to be considered for the competition must be published to the UK Windows 8 Store by this time. Apart from the main prize of £10,000 there will be runner up prize for 2nd place of an Xbox 360 console and games bundles for each individual entrant or member of the runner up teams.
    Click here for more information

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows 8 Embedded Coming in March 2013

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    Windows Embedded 8 shortens development cycles and enables device makers to create differentiated, best-in-class products that delight customers and stand out from the competition. They are packed with line-of business solutions optimized for the intelligence systems that have the ability to transform data into lasting competitive advantage.

    Create differentiated devices


    Assisted by the latest innovations from Microsoft, manufacturers can deliver more immersive and natural user experiences to make their devices stand out. Device makers can deliver a unique branded experience throughout the device to further define exceptional user experience for their customers.

    Build specialized devices on technologies you trust


    Windows Embedded 8 brings the latest security technologies from Windows 8 to help protect your customers’ sensitive business information on your specialized devices. By building on Windows Embedded 8, manufacturers can ensure that devices are highly reliable.

    Extend business intelligence


    By building with Windows Embedded 8, manufacturers can ensure their devices are optimized for intelligence systems. Microsoft delivers seamless enterprise identity and access management. Specialized devices can be efficiently managed alongside Windows PCs and connect to Windows Azure and Windows Server to ensure their customer’s data translates into unique competitive advantage


    Windows Embedded in Education


    Microsoft is committed to higher learning, and Windows Embedded delivers one of the best sets of embedded technology and resources to the academic field. Windows Embedded offers the opportunity to take advantage of the career potential that goes along with the current growth of the embedded market and provides a platform for exposure to embedded systems. The Windows Embedded Academic program provides professors and students access to the Windows Embedded CE and Windows Embedded Standard operating systems.

    Windows Embedded for Professors


    As an academic faculty, you have access to the Windows Embedded Academic curriculum offering, available in five languages. Developed by Georgia Institute of Technology, this curriculum provides materials and labs for an Introduction to Embedded Systems. While Windows Embedded CE is used as the embedded operating system of reference, the goal of the course is to enable students to learn the core theory of embedded systems, both hardware and software . This material is scalable to multiple academic levels across computer science, electrical engineering, and computer engineering.

    Access to Windows Embedded Software for Academic Use

    To obtain a Windows Embedded operating system and associated development tools for a non-commercial project, you can become an MSDN Academic Alliance Member. MSDNAA gives Universities access to full-packaged versions of Windows Embedded CE. By checking out the MSDNAA site you can confirm whether your school is already an MSDNAA member.
    You can easily download our zero cost trial version of Windows Embedded Compact or trial version of Windows Embedded Standard.

    Windows Embedded for Students


    As a student, you can participate in a variety of programs that will offer you the opportunity to apply your imagination, passion and creativity to learning. These programs include:

    Imagine Cup – Embedded Development Competition

    The focus of the Windows Embedded offering for students is the Imagine Cup, an annual technology competition. The Embedded Development category of the Imagine Cup challenges student developers from around the world to go beyond the desktop and use their creativity to build a complete hardware and software solution using Windows Embedded CE. Hardware is provided for those who advance to Round 2. Teams of up to three and a faculty mentor are challenged to build a working prototype of an embedded solution. The contest spans nearly a year, beginning with local, regional, and online contests and ending with global finals that are held in a different location our the world each year.

    Windows Embedded Career Opportunities


    The embedded division is a fast-growing market, and Microsoft is looking for bright, innovative minds that thrive in an atmosphere of creativity and constant innovation.
    If you are interested in full-time or internship opportunities at Microsoft, please submit your resume at the Microsoft College Careers Page and make sure to note on your resume that you are interested in a position within Windows Embedded.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Managing Windows 8 Client Access to the Windows Store

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    IT Administrators can control the availability and functionality of Windows Store to client computers based on the business policies of their enterprise environment. clip_image001

    I have had a number of queries how Educational establishments can limit or manage Windows 8 Clients access to the store, the following TechNet articles cover some of the frequently asked questions which I have had in relation to managing aspects of client access to the Windows Store in an educational or enterprise environment.

     

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows Phone Next App Star Get your entries in before March 5th 2013

    • 0 Comments

     

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