• Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Faculty Connection Registration - Want to stay informed of the latest technology and educational trends?



    Want to stay informed of the latest technology and educational trends?

    When you become a verified Faculty Connection member, you gain access to benefits such as the latest technology news, faculty only material, and more.

    What is Faculty Connection?

    How do you become a verified member?

    Just send a email from your UK Academic email address, including your Job title and institution to ukfac@microsoft.com

    We want you to be assured that Faculty Connection is a community of your peers, so that's why we ask all members to complete this initial step we will then send you a Faculty Connection verification code to allow you to register to this resource and community of peers.

    We want you to stay connected to the UK Faculty Connection program and by subscribing to the Faculty Connection resources including the Linkedin Group and dedicated newsletters we can keep up-to-date on the latest information about new curriculum resources, research projects, software tools, workshops, etc.

    If you have not subscribed to the Faculty Connection newsletter simply send us a email to ukfac@microsoft.com requesting your validation code and then click the Register button at http://www.microsoft.com/faculty

    It is easy and quick.

    Need to Check your Subscription?

    Not sure if you have already subscribed to the Faculty Connection newsletter? Click the Check Subscription and review your profile.


    1. Sign in with your Windows Live ID
    2. If you see Faculty Connection Newsletter in the Your Subscriptions column then you are all set
    3. If you don’t see the Faculty Connection Newsletter in the Your Subscriptions column select it from the list of Available Communications and click Subscribe
    4. Click Save

    That’s all there is to it!

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Pex4Fun Challenges and Test Driven Development



    So how could you use Pex4Fun (Windows phone app) or PexforFun web app in your curricula?

    The (RiSE) team has created these great tool to exercise your students brains, they help teach and reinforce the bit of code your delivering in lectures and allow them to learn self paced.

    As I have stated in the previous blog you have two ways of using Pex. For the web version simply go to the PexForFun site http://www.pexforfun.com  or for the mobile version install the Pex4Fun app onto your Windows Phone device.

    So what is available?

    There are puzzles, learning exercises, and duels. Register and you can create your own challenges. The puzzle structure is a great demonstration of Pex. When you start a new puzzle, you have a empty implementation. You can click Ask Pex to get some test results on the hidden successful implementation. Pex then executes those tests on your code.


    Students will learn as they see some failures, and you can fix your code to make the tests pass. Student can click “Ask Pex” to see if a more extensive test suite still passes. Iterating this way not only helps students understand fundamentals but also enables them to write better code and its tested to see if their implementation gets closer to the expected solution. If you are not familiar with Test Driven Development, this is a great tools for teaching the concept.

    All in all, there are several reasons you should consider integrating FREE resource like PexForFun into your curricula or vocational training resources:

    1. It is ideal to get students aware of and practicing Test Driven Development. you start with an empty implementation, and see a few failing tests. Keep making a few pass and you’ll get more tests. After a few iterations you’ll have everything working.
    2. It will give students practice writing tests. Pex generates tests by analysing their code. It determines a number of interesting inputs to code by analysing its structure. You can read an overview here By seeing the inputs it chooses, The outcome is that students get ideas and real understanding of how to write their own tests. By thinking about inputs it chooses to ignore, students can get better at writing useful concise tests instead of simply creating more tests.
    3. Plex helps exercises students brains and refreshes that to principles and concepts. The puzzles range from introductory to rather complicated.
    4. It support multiple languages C#, VB and F#.
  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    So how are you getting your students learning in their free time?


     pex_logo Touchdevelop

    Microsoft Research have come up with the following great tools for Windows Phone.

    The Research in Software Engineering (RiSE) group at Microsoft Research have two great mobile programming apps TouchDevelop & PexforFun.

    TouchDevelop (New name for TouchStudio) is an Windows Phone 7 App that allows the users to script with their phone. By bringing bringing programming to the Windows Phone it not only great fun but productive too, especially from a learning perspective. In the video below Nikolai Tillmann and Michal Moskal from Research in Software Engineering group (RiSE) at Microsoft Research give a demo of TouchStudio

    In the video below Nikolai Tillmann from Research in Software Engineering group (RiSE) at Microsoft Research give a case study of TouchDevelop being used by School children developing an app in 45mins directly on the device

    Get Microsoft Silverlight

    In this video, Grant Bronsdon, a intern at Microsoft Research, gives a quick tutorial on writing scripts in TouchDevelop

    Download the app from here

    Another great tool is Pex4Fun. Pex4fun is another project from Research in Software Engineering (RiSE)PexforFun have a dedicated web site application which allows programming in C#, Visual Basic, and F# from your browser. Now the team has released a Windows Phone mobile app which allows you to do the same in Windows Phone 7 titled Pex4Fun.


    The difference between Touch Studio and Pex4Fun is that Pex4Fun is a learning tool, you can win points by writing code! You earn points when your code computes the right outputs for all inputs. Pex4Fun features a code editor with auto-completion, snippets and background compilation to make programming on the phone a reality. If you are new to programming in general, don’t worry: Pex4fun also features a set of courses to learn the basics and beyond right from your phone.

    Download the app from here.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Imagine Cup North East Region



    So if your a academic or student in the North East of England you need to be aware of  the work which Sunderland Software City and Codeworks are undertaking in the establishment of a North East heat of the Microsoft Imagine Cup.

    Imagine Cup North East - Are you up for a challenge? from Codeworks Ltd on Vimeo.

    As part of helping inspire students Sunderland Software City and Codeworks worked to togther to help promote The Microsoft Imagine Cup to North East. As you know from my previous post the Imagine Cup is an exciting opportunity for students to work together in teams to solve some of the worlds toughest problems, learn new skills, make new friends, win prizes.

    So today Ben Nunney from Microsoft will be working with the teams from Sunderland Software City and Codeworks informing Students of the North East what the Imagine Cup is all about then on  Friday 17th and Saturday 18th February particiaptes who except the challenge whisked off to a secret location for a 36 hour non-stop hackathon to work on their Imagine Cup projects

    To find out more check out the Imagine Cup North East website - http://www.imaginecupnortheast.co.uk and follow the Imagine Cup North East on Twitter - http://twitter.com/imaginecupne

    If you're not a student but would still like to get involved the competition is also looking for Mentors and Sponsors, so get in touch with the Imagine Cup North East team.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Imagine Cup 2012 Inspiring students - Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems!



    One of the key messages I hear when speaking with academics is, how can Microsoft help in inspiring my students? Well if you have students who are interested in technology how about setting them the following challenge!

    Would you like the opportunity to change the world and potentially win a free trip to Sydney, Australia?

    The Microsoft Imagine Cup, is the world's top student technology competition. Ever year Microsoft gives students a fantastic opportunity to envisage, create and deliver a technology solution that addresses the Imagine Cup slogan - "Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems!"

    The Microsoft Imagine Cup is inspired by the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

    If you interested in learning more watch the following video from academic Rob Miles from the University of Hull and also captain of the Imagine Cup Software Design competition. Rob shares his insight and gives you some more information on the Microsoft Imagine Cup opportunity.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Kinect for Windows SDK 1.0



    Kinect for Windows is now Available!

    Version 1.0 of the SDK and runtime are now available for download, and distribution partners in our twelve launch countries are starting to ship Kinect for Windows hardware, enabling companies to start to deploy their solutions.

    Looking for great on content on how to build apps for Kinect?

    Visit Channel 9 where we have updated quick starts and open source projects.

    Get Started Guides and Tutorials 

    Kinect for Windows Quickstart Series

    • Installing and Using the Kinect Sensor
    • Setting up your Development Environment
    • Camera Fundamentals
    • Working with Depth Data
    • Skeletal Tracking Fundamentals
    • Audio Fundamentals

    Write an App! - Sample Code / Open Source Projects

    Kinect Service - A Windows Service so you can see Kinect data on your Windows Phone


    Kinect Paint - Draw with your hands


    Kinect Mouse Cursor - Control Windows with your hands


    Coding4Fun Kinect Toolkit - Developer library for easy programming


    Jellybean - Our famous drivable lounge chair code has been updated to the latest release of Kinect for Windows


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Best of Innovations 2012: Next Generation Microsoft Surface



    Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface (SUR40) is now available for purchase through Samsung channel and reseller partners. The device, manufactured by Samsung, was selected as an International Consumer Electronics Show “Best of Innovations 2012” award winner. For updates, monitor Microsoft Surface.

    The Surface 2 SUR40 is considerably less expensive than the first-generation device. Apart from the lower price, the main improvement is its much reduced size. The Surface 2 is now more like a coffee table with no bulky pedestal.

    A really nice example of Surface + Microsoft technology application is a retail example was produced by Razorfish

    Basically the surface 2 is an amazing device which simply can be used to do anything however you need to develop specific applications for the surface using the Surface 2 SDK see http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_faculty_connection/archive/2011/07/12/surface-2-0-sur40-sdk-now-available.aspx

    As the previous post state the Surface 2 requires custom development. If you do not have these skills in house we would recommend using a Surface 2 application development partner such as:-

    Suite 420 4th Floor,
    Davis House Business Centre,
    Robert Street,
    CR0 1QQ


    Black Marble
    Woodland Park
    Bradford Road
    Chain Bar,
    West Yorkshire,
    BD19 6BW

    The Surface can also be purchased with a selection of custom apps for less than >£7k

    The Microsoft Surface team have a number of You Tube videos see http://www.youtube.com/user/surface

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Changing the World starts TODAY!


    kinect1st feb

    Kinect for Windows Product Available February 1st

    The Kinect for Windows product group announced the upcoming release of their full commercial product in an official blog post on January 9. The new Kinect for Windows hardware and accompanying software will be available on February 1. It will be supported in 12 countries (United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, and United Kingdom) at a suggested retail price of US$249.

    Academics will still be able to use the Software Development Kit (SDK) with current Kinect for Xbox 360 sensors for non-commercial purposes and existing deployments that are licensed until 2016.

    You now also have a route to write commercial applications. Monitor the Kinect for Windows site for updates.


    • The announcement is here.

    As the Kinect for Windows blog states, many improvements to the SDK and runtime have been made these include:

    • Support for up to four Kinect sensors plugged into the same computer
    • Significantly improved skeletal tracking, including the ability for developers to control which user is being tracked by the sensor
    • Near Mode for the new Kinect for Windows hardware, which enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 40 centimetres in front of the device
    • Robustness improvements including driver stability, runtime, and audio fixes
    • Many API updates and enhancements in the managed and unmanaged runtimes
    • The latest Microsoft Speech components (V11) are now included as part of the SDK and runtime installer
    • Improved “far talk” acoustic model that increases speech recognition accuracy
    • New and updated samples, such as the Kinect Explorer, which enables developers to explore the full capabilities of the sensor and SDK, including audio beam and sound source angles, colour modes, depth modes, skeletal tracking, and motor controls
    • A commercial-ready installer which can be included in an application’s set-up program, making it easy to install the Kinect for Windows runtime and driver components for end-user deployments.

    The Channel 9 folks have some great content that went live today as well.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Educated desktops – Building and maintaining your PC labs

    A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of Andrew Fryer and his colleague Simon May company as we spent most the week on the Microsoft Stand at BETT one of the largest education events in the world. Simon and Andrew, task was to field questions from the attendees which include some of the hardest working IT Professionals in the industry, those supporting the IT in schools, college and Universities.

    As Andrew states in his original blog Agility is essential to cope with the new influx of students every year as well as is the need to deploy every more applications to keep up with the latest standards for the curriculum and the way each subject is taught.

    Some of these examples below are relevant to my previous discussions in regards to System Center 2012, curricula enhancements and training so I am sure you find them of interest in preparation for this years refresh plans.

    The following blog is by Microsoft UK IT Pro Evangelists Andrew Fryer. Originally posted on the UK Technet Blog Insufficient data from Andrew Fryer IT Pro Evangelist

    Teaching the next generation of IT Professionals.

    IT_Academy mva

    There was a lot of coverage in the press last week about teaching coding and development as part of ICT, however I had two separate requests from ICT educators about teaching how to maintain and fix problems on PCs, because that’s what their students had asked for. We discussed setting up virtual machines on Hyper-V and using snapshots to allow a damaged desktop to be fixed and then being reset with the problem for the next lesson. I also think some of the information on clustering and virtual machines on the Microsoft Virtual Academy could be reused in class rooms or certified training via Microsoft IT Academy in the form of MTA.

    Remote Desktop Services & App-V.


    One way to deal with the problem of matching up students and teachers to the applications they need , irrespective of where they are working is to use App-V (application virtualisation) as this deploys a virtual copy of an application to a desktop based on the groups a user belongs to i.e. it won’t show up in programs in control panel and can run side by side alongside earlier versions of the same application which it would normally conflict with.

    Another approach is to use Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and it was no surprise at BETT to see all the hardware vendors sporting their latest thin client devices, and personally I like the LG and Samsung offerings where the thin client was just part of the LCD panel. However not every application likes running as a remote desktop and you can end up creating a lot remote desktops for each type of user. The trick here is to use App-V with RDS so that the applications run virtually inside the remote desktop session and a given user only gets the applications they need even though you only have one or two standard desktops in RDS (the guidance on how to do this is here).

    Another good thing about RDS is that it reduces heat in the classroom if thin client devices are used and also reduces the background noise, although the noise from pupils will still be the same! It is possible to implement RDS without also deploying Citrix or Quest technologies on top, however both of these partners’ offerings add ease of use and manageability to what the raw RDS experience delivers.

    Digital Inclusion


    RDS can be setup so that these personalised remote desktops are available to staff & students working at home or other locations and this means they can use their own devices to interact with a school. Of course laptops are expensive and can be difficult to justify on a limited budget, so to level the playing field there is Get On Line @ Home, which provides affordable reconditioned hardware with Windows 7 + Office 2010 with telephone technical support included.

    Thanks to Andrew for producing this post. For a list of upcoming events which the UK TechNet team are delivering see http://uktechdays.cloudapp.net/home.aspx and for details of your education account managers to discuss this further see http://www.microsoft.com/uk/education/

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Cloud based development for Office365


    With the launch of Office 365, which includes Exchange Online, Lync Online and SharePoint Online, there is a now a huge requirement and market for graduates with the skills of how to develop for Office365.  The following blog outlines a number of great resources available for developers to help get you started developing on the platform.

    So what is Office 365

    Office 365 provides a communication and collaboration service in the cloud that you can leverage to build custom solutions for SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online. In this session, you’ll learn about this new cloud service and the breadth of solutions that can be developed using the same skills, tools and SDKs you use today when building on-premises solutions.

    I have Live@edu and not Office365 what is the difference?

    office365 vs Live

    for more details on see - www.microsoft.com/liveatedu/office365

    So how do you develop for Office365

    First, for Office client-related development, there is a short white paper Guidance for Office Development in Office 365 this paper identifies a number of things which you need to have top-of-mind relating to the Office clients and Office365 SharePoint Online. The most significant callout is managing remote authentication in your Office client add-ins. Since Office365 SharePoint Online is not in your Active Directory domain, you need to be able to pop the credential prompt for Ofiice365 when you need to access data in your add-in for the end-user. This white paper points you to a code sample you can use with the SharePoint Client Object Model and talks you through the pattern for how to implement it in your add-in. Additionally, you should keep a copy of the SharePoint Online Developer Guide handy to use as a reference for all things related to basic SPO development. Or you can access it online as well.

    Some videos available on Channel9 you might want to watch for Office365 information are:

    Dedicated Office365 training resource - http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-gb/Office365TrainingCourse

    • Developing in the Cloud with Office 365 Office 365 provides a communication and collaboration service in the cloud that you can leverage to build custom solutions for SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online. In this session, you’ll learn about this new cloud service and the breadth of solutions that can be developed using the same skills, tools and SDKs you use today when building on-premises solutions.
    • Developing for SharePoint Online with Sandbox Solutions Sandboxed Solutions are the development paradigm for SharePoint Online. In this session, you’ll learn about sandboxed solutions including how to develop, debug and deploy solutions. You’ll also learn the breadth of solutions that can be developed in the sandbox and strategies for developing common scenarios that are not enabled in the sandbox.
    • Building Workflow Solutions for SharePoint Online Building Workflow solutions for SharePoint Online allows you to automate collaboration-centric business processes and surface them to your users via SharePoint Online. In this session, you’ll learn the differences between declarative and code-based workflows, design a workflow using Visio 2010, implement that workflow in SharePoint Designer 2010 and customize the workflow using Visual Studio 2010 and custom actions.
    • Developing SharePoint Online Solutions with the Client Object Model The SharePoint Client Object Model provides libraries for programmatically accessing SharePoint Online via Silverlight and JavaScript. In this session, we’ll go deep into the Client Object Model and show you how to develop solutions using both Silverlight and JavaScript.
    • Leveraging Excel and Access Services in SharePoint Online Excel and Access Services provide powerful features for building SharePoint Online solutions. In this session, you’ll get an inside look at both Excel and Access services and how each can be accessed programmatically when building SharePoint Online solutions.
    • SharePoint Online Branding Customizing an intranet site with your company’s identity and branding can help create a more effective collaboration experience. SharePoint Online allows users, designers and developers to customize the look and feel of a site. This can range from simple changes like setting a site logo and Theme to completely changing the user experience with custom styles and Master Pages. In this session, you’ll learn how to make these customizations to brand your SharePoint Online site.
    • Developing Communication Solutions for Lync Online In this session, you learn how to integrate Lync features into your WPF and Silverlight clients much in the same way that Office and SharePoint do, including presence, contact lists and click-to-communicate features. You will also learn how to extend Lync communications to include data and features from your client applications much in the same way that Outlook 2010 does with the "IM" and "Call" features within an email.
    • Developing Messaging Solutions for Exchange Online In this session, you'll learn how to integrate Exchange Online mailbox data such as mail, calendar and task items as well as Exchange Online services such as the free-busy service into your applications using an easy to discover and easy to use managed API.

      Additional Resources

    • SharePoint Online Overview In this video, you'll learn about the customization and solution development opportunities for SharePoint Online.
    • Exchange Online Overview In this video, you'll learn about Exchange Online as a service and how you can build messaging solution in the cloud using the Exchange SDKs.
    • Lync Online Overview In this video, you'll learn about Lync Online and a service and how you can build communication solutions using Lync 2010 and the Lync 2010 SDK.
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