• Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    TechEd Europe, 25-28 June, IFEMA – Feria de Madrid Convention Centre, Madrid, Spain



    TechEd Europe,  25-28 June, IFEMA – Feria de Madrid Convention Centre,  Madrid, Spain

    Register by 22 March to take advantage of the Early Bird price of €1,695, a €300 savings off regular pricing there will be also a limited number of academic tickets available from the 12/02/2013 for $1,195 so ensure book as soon as possible.

    At TechEd you will get 4 days of hands-on learning, deep product exploration and countless opportunities to build relationships with a community of Microsoft experts and peers. Need to deliver maximum business value while managing your company's technology investments?

    Session and Speakers

    TechEd Europe has a wide range of education opportunities and the technical tracks. You will learn shortcuts, glean real-world guidance and get product roadmap details from Microsoft and industry experts.

    This Years Special Events

    Delegates will get access to the technologies and opportunities to meet one-on-one with Microsoft product experts and fellow professionals at our ancillary activities.


    clip_image012Welcome Reception

    Check out solutions and services from Microsoft partners and meet with the Microsoft product groups

    clip_image013 Delegate Party 

    Mingle with your fellow attendees and countrymen along with some fun activities.

    clip_image014Ask the Experts
    Meet one-on-one with Microsoft technology experts and peers to exchange feedback on technology trends and how to leverage these effectively in your business.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    A Game Jam Sandwich


    Guest blog by Dr Jacob Habgood, Sheffield Hallam University 

    A game jam is an exhausting endeavour at the best of times: coding day and night to try and come up with a prototype for the next blockbuster game—or at the very least—a better game than everyone else in the room. Add a festival launch event for schoolteachers at the start, and an industry Game Republic lecture by Microsoft at the end and you have a game jam sandwich—a rare delicacy which tastes of pizza and smells of Redbull.

    The festival launch was for the 2013 Games Britannia videogame education festival taking place at Sheffield Hallam University in June this year. The focus of the festival is about providing hands-on workshops and competitions for schools based around game development. As part of this we run a game design competition for schools, in which pupils redesign classic videogames: last year it was Monty Mole, and this year it's Zool. The 'launch' was all about announcing details of this year’s competition, and releasing the completed version of Monty Mole as a published game (now available on the IndieCity game store in aid of the Special Effect charity). How exciting is that? A chance for schoolchildren to get their game design created and published! BBC Look North obviously thought so as they were there to interview the children about their game and they appeared on TV that very evening!


    Amongst all this media excitement, our own students had been challenged to make a Windows 8 game in just 24 hours using GameMaker Studio (the same tool used to make the Monty game). Fortunately, we had the support of Lee Stott from Microsoft to help the students to obtain free Windows 8 developer accounts via DreamSpark. He'd also kindly brought along a stack of Windows 8 tablets to test the games on and (most importantly in the eyes of the students) he provided the pizza. He was definitely the most popular man in the room.

    Students were put into artist/programmer pairs and told that their game had to be a single touch control and based on the meteorologically appropriate theme of 'ice'. As you can imagine, the next 24-hours involved a predictable number of appearances by snow men, ice skaters, polar bears and penguins, with a space man selling ice-cream on the moon thrown in for good measure.


    All of the first year students taking part in the Game Jam had been using Game Maker in one of their modules, but a few of the older students taking part had never used it before. It was a testament to Game Maker's simplicity that they were able to create game prototypes in such a short space of time. It gave the programmers a chance to focus on experimenting with gameplay through simple game mechanics rather than having to worry about the underlying technology for a change.

    The students worked incredibly hard day and night to get their prototypes done and everyone was really impressed with their dedication. There were times when you could have heard a pin drop, although that soon changed once the sound effect CDs came out! Twenty four hours may seem like a long time for an event, but it’s an incredibly short time in game development terms and the deadline was soon upon us. Each bleary-eyed team queued up to demonstrate their game to the judging panel and awaited their decision.


    The three finalists were announced as Snow Fight, Ice Fishing, and Sgt. Rick O’Shot. The worms-like gameplay in Snow Fight hit the judges’ nostalgia-spot perfectly and the winding game mechanic of Ice fishing was both impressive and intuitive to play. The bouncing game mechanic of Rick O’Shot was surprisingly simple, but very enjoyable. The final accolade for these three teams was to get to present their game in front of an audience of industry professionals at the evening’s Game Republic event. Lee Stott gave a very informative talk on Windows 8 game development to the assembled crowd of local veterans, before the teams got their chance to take to the stage and show off their achievements of the last 24 hours. Finally the suspense was lifted and Sgt. Rick O’Shot was announced as the winner, for its simple, enjoyable gameplay mechanic. The team received a range of Microsoft goodies, plus access to the Steel Minions studio to finish off the development of their game—so watch this space! Everyone then retired to the pub together for some well earned food and drink courtesy of Microsoft and Game Republic.


    Many congratulations to all our students who took part for showing the kind of enthusiasm and commitment that is essential to get into the games industry! Hopefully we will be seeing completed versions of many of their games appearing on the Windows 8 store in the near future. Having a published game has great value in the eyes of the games industry, and to be able to do this in your first year at university using Game Maker Studio, is an opportunity that every student should jump at. To encourage this, YoYo Games very kindly provided our students with temporary free Game Maker Studio licences, and Lee has set up both local and national competitions to give them a deadline to work to.

    Many thanks to everyone for their support with this enjoyable event and we look forward to seeing the fruits of their labour on the Windows 8 store!

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows 8 devices at BETT 2013


    Guest blog by Sean O’Shea,Schools Business Manager | Education Devices Lead | Microsoft UK
    more at the schools blog


    My pick of the Windows 8 Devices at BETT!

    BETT 2013 was the fourth BETT that I’ve been to since I’ve been at Microsoft, and was by far and away the most successful in my opinion.  Why?  Two words.  Windows 8.  Given that Windows 8 only launched late 2012, and that there was a real gap between launch and devices actually being available in the channel, I was very surprised by the sheer amount of companies showing their solutions/hardware/software on Windows 8 devices.  I spoke to a lot of people at the show about new devices and hardware for Windows 8 and I’ve summarised some of the most popular below.






    There were some great examples from Dell, Ergo, Samsung and others…unfortunately I just didn’t have the time to get hands on with anymore!  To keep up to date with other Windows 8 devices then please visit the Windows site here.

    Just one more thing…I couldn’t leave without mentioning the Lenovo Horizon Table PC.  Those that were able to have a play with this will understand my interest in this! 

    This is a 27” “PC” which is equally as comfortable as an all-in-one desktop, or as a table PC!  It’s not released yet, but the 20 point multi-touch is pretty impressive!  One for your living room…



  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    GameSalad & Creating Games for Windows 8



    GameSalad launched their Windows 8 support back in September. Since that time game developers have ported over many of their games to the brand new platform.

    For the past few days I have been short listing and selecting my team of Windows Games Ambassadors. Its been interesting process and yes I have had to play all the entries. What has been interesting is the vast array of engines and frameworks the applicants have used for the final assessment, which was a task to build a Windows 8 Games in around 10 days. The technologies and frameworks ranged from C++/DX, C# to GameMaker, Construct2 and even Touchdevelop

    So I wanted to highlight the opportunity of GameSalad as only a few of the applicants used this. GameSalad will no doubt become pretty popular as its a HTML5/JS visual, drag & drop interface with support for complex behaviour library which therefore provide almost limitless freedom to game designers additionally GameSalad asset can be used in Construct2 so the visual drag and drop opportunity is becoming pretty competitive.

    To help demonstrate the power of GameSalad I thought I would quickly highlight some games which have used GameSalad in their production.

    Check out these games. Download them. Buy them. If you want to develop your own game, download the GameSalad Creator. If you’re a current student, check out the discount licensing available from Studica offers for GameSalad.

    Is your GameSalad game in the Windows Store and not listed above? Let me know in the comments!

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Interested in Windows 8 in Education



    We have two key resources

    The Windows 8 in education eBook

    Windows 8 in Education UK Microsite.

    The microsite is design to sharesome key Windows 8 in education assets that look closely at our new OS specifically through an Education focus at schools, colleges and Universities.

    In addition to the eBook, a key new asset that has literally just been added to the microsite is our Windows 8 in education video. The video showcases how both UCL and Hartsbrook E-Act Free School are using Windows 8 to build 21st skills and create more emotional connections with learning .I was involved in the filming of this video and both institutions are doing some amazing work with Windows 8, and technology in general. I personally loved the impact that Windows 8 had on the primary age students at Hartsbrook E-Act Free School to PhD Students and Researchers at UCL.


    Windows 8 Apps

    Windows 8 apps also sit front and centre of our new Windows 8 in education microsite. With a rapidly growing selection of education apps from the likes of Pearson, RM and Autology, the education category in the Windows Store has definitely been one of the most dynamic and innovative areas since launch.

    Our app showcases offer a detailed overview of specific apps combined with screencasts, screenshots and information to allow you to learn more about how the app can help directly within your institution.

    The intention is not to list every education app in the store, but offer a overview of a selection of UK apps available both today and over the coming months.

    The UK Education Team will be adding fresh content, especially around new apps, to the site on a regular basis so be sure to come back regularly and keep up to date with what is going on.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows 8 USB To Go Support USB Sticks


    One of the questions I received at BETT was related to Windows To Go and what USB Stick should I purchase?

    So What is Windows To Go?

    Windows To Go is a fully manageable corporate Windows 8 OS image provisioned on a certified bootable USB drive that allows faculty and staff to work from anywhere. To use Windows To Go, you simply insert the provisioned USB drive into a compatible PC and boot into your personalized Windows 8 image, all while maintaining access to key security and management features of the operating system, as well as other key programs included within the corporate image, such as: Group Policy, BitLocker, BranchCache, App-V, UE-V and DirectAccess.

    What are the Benefits? 

    Windows To Go users are able to have their personalized Windows environment on their certified USB with or without network connectivity, which means they may be fully productive from any location they choose to work.

    What USB Stick should I use?

    At present there are five vendors whom meet th eWindows To Go certification tests and requirements. Each of the manufacturers listed below have rigorously tested their products, and have worked with Microsoft to create high quality Windows To Go optimized drives.

    • Imation is a global scalable storage and data security company whose portfolio includes tiered storage and security offerings for businesses and consumers. Imation offers the IronKey™ Workspace certified for Windows To Go, available in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB sizes.
    • Kingston is a global provider of memory, solid-state drives, USB drives, and flash memory products. The Kingston Windows To Go certified drive, known as the DataTraveler Workspace, is available in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB versions.
    • SPYRUS, Inc. develops, manufactures, and markets hardware-based encryption, authentication, and digital content security products. SPYRUS offers two Windows To Go certified drives: the SPYRUS unencrypted Portable Workplace and the hardware encrypted Secure Portable Workplace, which is designed to be compliant with FIPS 140-2. Each drive is offered in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB sizes.
    • Super Talent designs and manufactures Flash-based storage solutions for Enterprise Servers, Workstations, Personal Computers and Consumer Electronics. Currently, Super Talent offers the RC8, in a variety of sizes, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB.
    • WD, a subsidiary of Western Digital Technologies, Inc., is a global storage industry leader, providing internal and external storage solutions for consumers and businesses. The WD My Passport Enterprise is a 500 GB external hard drive designed and certified specifically for use with Windows To Go.

    Want to know more about Windows To Go

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows 8 TouchDevelop Appathon and BETT Show 2013


    Before Christmas a number of UK Academics took part in 3 virtual university sessions on TouchDevelop with Peli de Halleux from Microsoft Research in USA. 3 UK academics were selected from the 50 or so educators from around Europe who took part, to go to London for a final 24 hour appathon

    TouchDevelop.com is an exciting new platform which allows you to create apps on any HTML5 enabled browser and therefore you can develop on pretty much any platform, including mobile devices such as tablets or even phones. The apps you create can also be tested in the browser, so this platform provides the opportunity for students to create apps on mobile devices for mobile devices and on pretty much any device they have and see it running on that device. The final apps can be published as Windows 8 RT apps or Win7/8 phone apps on the Windows marketplace.

    So the three academics travelled to London (courtesy of Microsoft Corp) David Renton (FE Academic) Ray Chambers (School Teacher) and Jimmy Edwards (School Teacher).

    They began the event on Monday in CP. What’s interesting about David Renton, Jimmy Edwards and Ray Chambers is that are members of the UK Microsoft Partners in Learning network and are part the K Team academic evangelism programs helping UK Academic’s use MS technology in the classroom.

    The appathon kicked off properly at 11am with Ben Nunney and MS Research staff to provide technical support, guidance and direction. The key goal of the appathon was to develop educational app ideas into reality using TouchDevelop. With the academics using Windows 8 and Windows Phone devices, the academic got down to creating Win 8 and Windows Phone apps and getting their hands on RT Slates, surfaces and Windows 8 laptops.



    Appathon kicks off

    The competition went on late into the early hours and David was last to leave at around 4am.

    I arrived at CP early on the day judging day to be involved in the final judging at 1pm the teams started to present their apps to the judging panel and to our fellow educators.


    David Presenting Math Mage at the Appathon

    What was interesting about David games was he got his students involved and one Michael Philp a Scottish art student created the amazing original art work for Math Mage and a really interesting concept of involving students into activities such as this.


    Math Mage for Windows Phone

    However at the judging it was clear the Ukraine teachers were amazing! They built an amazing app which lets you construct and test electric circuits on your Windows 8  mobile phone or Windows 8 device.

    The winner received a brand new Surface RT Tablet courtesy of Microsoft.

    Despite the UK not winning I was really impressed with the apps that David and Ray Chambers produced unfortunately Jimmy had to be rushed to hospital with a kidney stone on the Tuesday evening he is now recovering. Both David and Ray are now in the process of publishing them both + more to the Windows 8 and Windows Marketplace.


    Winning App from the Ukraine

    On Wednesday the BETT Show at the ExCeL Convention Centre started where Vince Cable and Microsoft VP Anthony Salcito opened the show in the new Microsoft Arena in the middle of the massive ExCel conference centre.


    Anthony Salcito Microsoft VP



    Windows 8 Surface Pod


    Microsoft Stand


    Yes it was really busy!


    Microsoft Stand and Theatre

    Apart from Windows 8 everywhere, The overall theme running through the show was BYOD, Bring Your Own Device and the idea that in future students of all ages from Primary through to FE and HE should be allowed to take the amazing technology sitting in their bags out and use it in the classroom.


    BETT Show 2013

    On the Thursday I had a presentation slot on Surface in Education and apps being the centre of the new learner experience, Before I presented, I went to the NAACE stand for the launch of the Kodu Kup in conjunction with Microsoft and UKIE.

    On the NAACE stand Stuart Ball from Microsoft Partners in Learning along with Nicki Maddams from the Microsoft Partners in Learning K-Team launched the exciting new competition for all school kids aged 7 to 14, where they are challenged to work together in teams of 3 to produce a game which will be judged by Microsoft, with the top ten teams from around the country winning a trip to Microsoft HQ in July, where the top teams will be rewarded with XBOX360s and Kinects.

    After this we rushed over to Learn Live D Theatre where we were presented on Kodu, Kinect, xGames and TouchDevelop and the Imagine Cup, DreamSpark using Microsoft Development tools and how they are being used to the classroom to engage and excite learners. We had some famous faces in the audience such as the team from LionHead the game developers behind the Fable game series and a number of educational titles.

    The presentation from the K team went very well and it seemed to be well received by everybody, as David and Ray simply presented their experiences of using technology in the classroom.



    On the Friday Ray and David had initally planned to take it easy and just take in the show and had planned to go see Professor Brian Cox presenting, but I managed to gently persuade them both to take part in another Appathon, this time it was the Stone Hackathon which was being judged by Pearson education, stone computers and Johnny Ball of 80s kids tv fame.


    Ray made a French and Maths version of his Spelling Bee app and David made an English version of my Math Mage called Word Mage which tests kids knowledge of Nouns, Verbs, Adverbs and Adjectives.  

    Ray completed his Spelling Bee App and won a portable printer for his efforts. So it was a great day for Windows 8 with Apps both being for our platform built using different technologies.


    David and Ray with Jonny

    David has also gratefully agreed to produce teaching materials for Microsoft Faculty Connection Resources on using TouchDevelop for games development and programming. The materials will cover basic programming concepts and how to use TouchDevelop to create classic arcade games like Pong, Breakout, Space Invaders.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Global Game Jam Hull




    Waiting for the theme….. lots of excited students

    The Global Game Jam Hull, took place at Hull College, the event started with a couple of excellent videos which are available at www.globalgamejam.org setting the scene (and reminding everyone about the power of deodorant) and then we got the theme. No pictures, no words. Just the sound of a human heartbeat. Genius.

    The hack was, then was underway, teams began to form, some students were already in teams some started to develop teams of designer, artists and developers. As you can see we had a number of professional film crews throughout the event (who turned out to be Grimsby College Media Students studying digial media production) they were using the event to develop portfolios and undertook a number of interviews, etc throughout the event and this content will be available once edited.

    I took along six Windows 8 slates which the teams could use to debug their windows 8 apps and a lot of students had Windows Phone devices and we had a selection of prizes for the winners of the event.

    We announced the differenators and the academic’s in attendance from each of the events stressed the importance of not wasting this opportunity to begin building a real portfolio of apps.

    A total of 20 teams then found suitable location, rooms within the college which was a fantastic location

    The results

    Judging was a really frenzied effort. We spit into teams of judges, 10 teams per group, each group of judges had a video crew to create videos for use at the final presentation at the end of the day.

    Each of the judging teams were chaperoned by a film crew. If you want to take a look at the amazing games here is a video on YouTube here.

    These are teams who have excelled in specific competition categories.


    “Heart Attack Team” with their Social Media award their app Heart Attack was built for Windows 8 and fully functional and was uploaded to store yesterday I had email today saying the WP8 version will be in store before the end of the week. This was built with XNA and ported using MonoGame


    “3 Old Robots and an Englishman” with their Diversifier award they built a game in 48k


    “50 Shades of Simon Grey” with their Art award an awesome Unity Game with amazing visuals


    “Blimbu” with their Project Management award Awesome game by Grimsby Students built using GameMaker they are in the process of porting this to Windows 8


    Lifeline team with their Collaboration Award as students were from Teesside Uni, Grimsby and Hull Uni

    Now it was time for the top three teams.


    “Across the Border” came third with a lovely heart powered jetpack game. This was a fully functional Windows Phone app and demonstrated on a device and will be available in store.

    In second place we had the “Heart Attack” team with a single finger controlled sideways scroller that has the player boosting their heart and avoiding circular saws, boost batteries and slow me down pills.


    The winners were “50 Shades of Simon Grey”, who designed, built and then textured an entire haunted mansion for their terrifying game where a ghostly presence stalks multiple players as they search the rooms to try and exorcise the evil that lurks there. The game uses 3D sound to play the hearbeat of the avenging ghost as he comes up behind you for the kill. Great, and very atmospheric, stuff. For this to be produced in 48 hours was amazing and it really shows the power of Unity! Once we have the Unity plug-in available Windows 8 will have some amazing games.

    Finally we highlighted the Windows 8 Competition http://www.ubelly.com/global-game-jam/ and simply stressed this was an amazing opportunity of students to get some incentives and most importantly visit MS and meet some of the staff and get feedback on their games.

    Overall Superb event and awesome support from the academic’s involved and venue to help this really be a huge success. Additionally made great introduction to the teams at platformexpos.com and introduced them as a BizSpark Network Partner.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    .NET Gadgeteer in Education


    Design and build your own electronic devices http://www.gadgeteering.net

    NET Gadgeteer is a platform for creating your own electronic devices using a wide variety of hardware modules and a powerful programming environment. Students with little or no electronics background can design and build devices that sense and react to their environments using components such as switches, displays, buzzers, sensors and more. Using cables these various modules are plugged into a mainboard which is programmed to make everything work together. Devices can be programmed using Visual Basic or Visual C#.


    How to learn .NET Gadgeteer

    .NET Gadgeteer can be incorporated into the teaching of programming at GCSE and A-Level, or introduced in extra-curricular clubs at KS3. Teaching materials for .NET Gadgeteer are available at http://www.gadgeteering.net

    These are structured around key programming principles including selection, iteration, arrays and file handling, so that students can learn all the key concepts they need whilst having fun!

    What to buy

    .NET Gadgeteer is open source hardware that is available from a number of manufacturers. For our Visual Basic teaching materials one suggestion is to buy a Fez Hydra kit, and also a small display, SD Card module and button. However other mainboards can be used just as well. Gadgeteer components are available from the following manufacturers/suppliers: GHI Electronics, Love Electronics, SyTech, Proto-Pic, Cool Components and Mouser Electronics, amongst others. Students can work in groups of four to build a Gadgeteer project.

    How students benefit

    .NET Gadgeteer is a motivating environment for teaching programming and is ideal for collaborative projects, where students share out tasks and work together to build a device of their own invention. Crucially, it also gives them a better understanding of how the devices and technology all around them work, as well as the skills to create their own.

    Heading to BETT http://www.bettshow.com

    NET Gadgeteer can offer exciting possibilities for teaching computer programming, electronics and computer-aided design. Once the device is built and programmed, a housing can be built for the device to enable ease of use, which also helps students to learn about human-computer interaction.

    If your attending BETT See .NET Gadgeteer in action at the AQA stand and for more information contact: Dr Sue Sentance, Schools outreach for .NET Gadgeteer, E-mail: sue.sentance@anglia.ac.uk, http://www.gadgeteering.net

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Rapid2D C++ DirectX 11.1 Educational Gaming engine for Windows 8



    Rapid2D is the only game engine that is specifically designed to produce Windows 8

    The following Tutorials are available

    There will be 9 templates each with a basic description released at: http://www.rapid2d.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=46

    There is an editor and a scripting manual on the download page of rapid2d: http://www.rapid2d.com/downloads.html  


    Rapid2D  will be doing lots more tutorials in both worksheet and video form in the near future and have released an amazing competition where you can WIN £10,000!

    The Rapid2D £10,000 Competition is now open. To find out more click here, and to enter click here.

    If you have already entered, you can login to your team area here.

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