Faculty Connection is an online set of real-world resources and shared peer knowledge, the goal of the Faculty Connection site is to put relevant and applicable tools and information at the fingertips of technology educators.
The UK Academic Team is responsible for offering IT students and faculty members free access to software, for enhancing knowledge and skills by providing curriculum materials and other learning opportunities, for helping students achieve their dreams by organizing an international competition, and finally for assisting last year students through career resources and job opportunities at our customers and partners.
With this blog we want to inform you on our latest initiatives.
Enjoy reading and stay tuned!
What is Azure Tracker?
Azure Tracker is a tool designed primarily with faculty and educators of students with Azure Educator grants. The tool allows users to manage and monitor student use to help optimize Windows Azure in their classroom.
What can I do on Azure Tracker?
The various sections of Azure Tracker are designed to help support the use of Windows Azure in the classroom.
· Accounts provides a consolidated view of all accounts in the course, allowing users to track the status of all accounts under their control.
· Sessions are individual sections (i.e., groups and classes) associated with Azure courses under an instructor. Sessions are customizable, so they can be managed in a way to segment students in the manner that best fits the instructors needs.
· Usage allows for tracking and reporting across multiple services, resources, and user groups.
· Feedback is a way for us to connect with you to help optimize the site from a user perspective. Send an email directly, participate in periodic surveys, and submit a case study are all ways we seek your input in order to optimize your and your students Windows Azure experience.
Getting Access to Azure Tracker Portal
You must login using your Microsoft ID (LiveID) which your Academic Passes have been granted against.
Azure Tracker Portal Site is : http://tracker.windowsazurepass.com.
· Having trouble with Microsoft Azure, contact Azure Support at http://www.windowsazure.com/support and sign in
· Need help migrating to a paid subscription, please contact www.windowsazurepass.com/convert/default.aspx
· Have a question related to your Azure Pass subscription or Azure Tracker, please contact Azure Pass Support directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
· Interested in finding more information about Azure Academic Passes see http://www.windowsazure.com/education
· Windows Azure and Cloud Curriculum resources see http://www.microsoft.com/faculty
This week I have done a number of events including Games Marketing Europe where I was asked to present on the 6 Top Tips for Marketing your App for Windows 8 and Windows Phone you can see my deck below
One of the most common question I get is how can I secure funding for my app or game? So I wanted to introduce you all to Microsoft, Nokia And Aalto University AppCampus Programme.
What is AppCampus?
AppCampus is €18M (US$24M) joint investment fund from Microsoft, Nokia, and Aalto University which is to fund and support high potential mobile startups around the world
So what is the Funding Opportunity?
Applicants who are successfully awarded an AppCampus investment receive €20K, €50K or €70K
AppCampus also provides some training and coaching via App Camp a residential accelerator camp based out of Aalto University in additional AppCampus provides Go-to-market support..
What are our asks?
All successful AppCampus awards need to agree to a 90 day exclusivity period and publish to the Windows Phone Store.
So what are we looking for?
• Differentiation: a brand new app that is not available in any mobile app store, OR an existing successful app on iOS/Android with exclusive/differentiated content or features on Windows Phone.
• Mass market appeal: potential to generate a high number of downloads (more than half a million per year) and/or revenue (tens of thousands of dollars per year)
• Experienced mobile developer: has experience building apps on one of the main mobile platforms (iOS/Android/WP) with demonstrated design, technical and business capabilities
• Convincing Overall Proposal: app design, technical solution, business model
• AppCampus 101 & Frequently Asked Questions: http://www.appcampus.fi/faq
• How to do a good AppCampus submission: http://jo.my/example1
• How to do a good AppCampus submission. A case example: http://jo.my/example2
Windows Phone Resources
•Windows Phone Dev Center - Design principles: http://jo.my/principles
•Windows Phone Dev Center - Design process: http://jo.my/process
•Windows Phone Dev Center - Development http://jo.my/develop
•Windows Phone 8 - Training Kit: http://jo.my/wp8tt
•Nokia Developer Center - Windows Phone: http://jo.my/nokiadev
•Microsoft BizSpark: http://www.bizspark.com •Microsoft UK Accelerator – http://aka.ms/ukaccelerator
The Microsoft Ventures Accelerator London is looking for promising early-stage startups who are doing big things in the cloud, internet, mobile and gaming to join an immersive 12-week accelerator programme aimed at compressing time to launch. You’ll get access to 1:1 mentoring, a global alumni community, a cutting edge curriculum and loads of support and assistance to help you grow. There are just 2 weeks left to apply, so if you are a high-potential startup set on fast growth, you’ll want to check out: http://aka.ms/apply and get your application in quickly. #MSFTVenturesUK
Channel 9 have published a great interview with Principal Software Architect Ivan Tashev the content is at Channel 9 videos.
Ivan who works at MS Research has been responsible for a number of MS audio devices from Kinect to Microsoft Round Table.
Ivan talks about the differences between Kinect 1.0 and Kinect 2.0 some fascinating insight into the technology and research behind an amazing product.
For more details on Kinect and Kinect SDK see Kinect for Windows http://www.kinectforwindows.com
Have you ever wondered if there are anywhere you can get data and more importantly real data for apps and services.
Is your One-Stop Shop for Premium Data and Applications with Hundreds of Apps, Thousands of Subscriptions, Trillions of Data Points which you can use in your apps/services.
Windows Azure Marketplace for Data and apps - https://datamarket.azure.com/
Windows Azure MarketPlace Data Market Blog - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/datamarket/
Here are a some of the services but there are 100 and 1000 data resources.
There’s a lot of buzz about the “Internet of Things” (IoT)
One of the key areas I get asked most questions about in regards to students projects is the internet of things.
This is a great topic for student and researchers based at Microsoft we have huge passion for the Internet of Things over the summer I have been working with a number of Universities and here are some of the project themes which activity is being completed on during this academic year..
Using Social Media to Engage with Products
Theme: Internet of Things / Mobile Apps, Equipment:Windows Azure, WP8 device (large screen) + Gadgeteer or RaspPi
Interfacing Physical & Digital Worlds
Theme: Internet of Things / Augmented Reality / Mobile Apps, Equipment: Windows Azure, WP8 device (large screen) + Gadgeteer/RaspPi + various sensors inc.
Connection through passive digital interaction
Theme: Internet of Things, Equipment: Windows Azure. NFC enabled WP8 device + Gadgeteer or RaspPi with NFC sensors + NFC tags
Augmented Energy Monitoring Accommodation
Theme: Mobile Apps / Augmented Reality, Equipment:Windows Azure, WP8 device, Embedded Systems
Feedback and Demand Awareness Theme: Internet of Things / Mobile Apps, Equipment: Windows Azure, WP8, Multiple temperate sensor kits, Embedded Systems
Why are these projects so interesting?
So with now billion devices connected to the Web and an expected 50 Billion by 2020, the Internet of Things is going to get bigger and bigger and impact us in our daily activities. Market research firm IDC in turn estimates that more than 16 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2015
Why has IoT gained momentum?
Simply because there is a real need for such systems and connectivity to the internet from all our devices the following is who we see our products and services.
Where is the opportunity?
The growth of this type of solution by application area has been amazing and the opportunity for developing for these industries is clearly presented below.
What should you do?
If you interested in IoT related activities in your UG studies or PG activities please get in contact.
We are presently looking for as many examples of IoT based projects using Microsoft technologies and services.
As always we are always happy to provide advice guidance, suggestions and comment.
Resources and further information on the Internet of Things
Internet of Things Examples - Postscapes
What are the best examples of the 'Internet of things'?
2013: The year of the Internet of Things | MIT Technology Review
5 Companies Building the "Internet of Things"
Building the Internet of Things
Free developer tools and resources for educators and students
Microsoft Cloud Services for Education
Azure Teaching and Student Packs
The Microsoft Accelerators, Incubators and Investment opportunities are the great demonstration of Microsoft interest and involvement in the UK Start-up community. Last week at Games Industry Fair conference I had the opportunity to speak about this very matter.
Microsoft Accelerator – http://aka.ms/UKaccelerator
AppCampus – http://www.appcampus.fi
Microsoft Lift London Studio – Contact email@example.com
Greenshoots programme - http://greenshoots.creativeengland.co.uk/
Including Microsoft Bizspark http://www.bizspark.com
Traditional cloud gaming has been associated with streaming of game content only well things have really changed with the advent of apps.
Many of today’s top apps and games have been truly unleashed as a result of today’s mobile platforms.
For an app to be truly successful they need to exist, in some capacity, on the Cloud. The cloud is the glue that helps apps truly realize the monetization and audience engagement that today’s developers all seek and consumers require to create that truly connected experiences across all of their connected devices. The following video is how Microsoft believe the Cloud can create and unleash this opportunity.
One of the key things I always raise in my presentation, is Microsoft opportunity with using Cloud Services, Windows Azure helps developers truly land cross platform game/apps story using Windows Azure.
Windows Azure is the core of modern day apps cross Microsoft technologies from Xbox to Embedded systems.
Azure is an open platform, with Azure we can support developers building their Web, IoS & Android game/app development using the technologies and services that the Developer are use to using be that PHP, Phython, Node etc.
What our Cloud + Gaming Apps story with Windows Azure Mobile Services
Get a Windows Azure Free Academic Account http://www.windowsazure.com/education
Learn more & try tutorials
Tutorials, Samples, Reference Docs: http://www.windowsazure.com/mobile
Help with Mobile Services
Q&A Forum: http://bit.ly/PrZPX8
Presentations, demos, hands on labs
Windows Azure Training Kit: http://bit.ly/IjTnyh
Windows 8 Developer Resources : http://dev.windows.com
Windows Phone Developer Resources: http://dev.windowsphone.com
Academic Resources: http://www.Microsoft.com/uk/faculty
Cocos2D-XNA is a 2D/3D game developer’s framework that is written specifically for XNA. XNA is the game API developed by Microsoft for independently published games on Xbox Live Arcade.
To support other platforms than the now deprecated Microsoft XNA targets, Cocos2D-XNA supports the MonoGame runtime.
There are Visual Studio extensions available from the online gallery. From Visual Studio, choose Tools -> Extensions. From the Extensions Gallery enter cocos2d in the search box and start your search.
Install all of the extensions that you are interested in targeting. Each of these will create an empty, and runnable, game project that you can modify.
After you have installed the extensions, return to Visual Studio. From the File menu, choose New Project and find the Cocos2D project type node.
Read KJPOU1′s Getting Started Guide on Cocoa-Mono
This project is open source, freely available, and free of royalties or encumbrance.
Cocos2D-XNA software is released under the highly permissive MIT License.
The source code is hosted at github: https://github.com/Cocos2DXNA/cocos2d-xna
For more details see http://www.cocos2dxna.com/
Last week we had a huge Microsoft representation at Eurogamer ranging from Xbox360, XboxOne, Windows Phone and Windows 8 demonstrating our devcies, services and latest titles. During the event I had a lots of interesting discussions with game devs, educators and students, one of the key themes of discussion was what is the best technology to build my games with?
To address this I think you need to look at the industry and some best practices, hands down Unity is now by far the most popular middleware and what we are seeing is right now some real platform and service differentiators.
One of the cool factor about Win 8 is XAML and its support for D3D11. However one of the key debates from existing Windows Silverlight developers is which skills do I need to learn, my simply comment is if we are given a choice I would suggest that you with go with XAML/C# and this where some great open source project come in such as MonoGame which I have spoken a lot about in the past on this blog and SharpDx.
I know for many games devs building for Windows 8 they have spent a lot of time seeing if there was a way to combine D3D11 and XAML. I would simply say stop searching and start focusing on doing XAML with some DirectX immediate mode rendering.
The following is a simply walkthrough of how to do some DirectX immediate mode rendering in your C#/XAML app using the SharpDx library. This isnt a new subject and one the original MSDN Blog was published on exactly this, Combining XAML and DirectX. The blog is an excellent starting point and talks about what is possible with DirectX and XAML.
So what is SharpDx
SharpDx is a very thin library that exposes the DirectX api’s for use in C# WinRT apps. SharpDx exposes the DirectX API’s nearly 1-to-1 with no higher level abstraction (like what XNA is).
SharpDX is FREE
You can simply use the SharpDx library to render DirectX content in your XAML/C# apps via the controls mentioned in Combining XAML and DirectX (SurfaceImageHost & SwapChainBackgroundPanel) nt.
I’ll spend this post walking you through how to get this all setup.
Step 1 : Get SharpDx
Current stable version of SharpDX is 2.5.0.
SharpDX binaries are directly downloadable from this web site or available from nuget packages.
SharpDX is now bundled into 2 separate packages, for all platforms and .NET Framework:
There is also a Visual Studio Extension available with Project Templates for the Toolkit. Search for SharpDX in Extension Manager in VisualStudio 2012 and install it from there
Step 3 : Build SharpDx code
firstname.lastname@example.org:sharpdx/SharpDX.git // use https://github.com/sharpdx/SharpDX.git if you don't have a github account
Step 4 : Using these DirectX-C# libraries to render islands of DirectX in your XAML (SurfaceImageSource)
The SharpDx team have some great samples that show how to use these libraries to render DirectX content in your XAML surface via the SurfaceImageSource element.
The 2 “Rectangle” elements below are “Filled” with the SurfaceImageSource DirectX rendered content.
The d3dRectangle will load the SurfaceImageSource content generated via the Direct3D pipeline
The d2dRectangle will load the SurfaceImageSource content generated via the Direct2D pipeline.
This demo shows both pipelines for rendering content,
This rendered surface is just bitmap content so you can mix XAML all over or under it at your convenience!
Step 5 : Using these DirectX-C# libraries to render full page DirectX under your XAML (SwapChainBackgroundPanel)
This second sample shows how to render a FULL screen DirectX surface underneath XAML using the SwapChainBackgroundPanel.
Without going into too much detail the SwapChainBackgroundPanel lets you render DirectX content underneath your XAML content, because the XAML content sits within the SwapChainBackgroundPanel as a child.
Let me know how you get on and what interesting games or apps you end up building with SharpDx.
In 2012 the Computing in Schools project looked at the current provision of education in Computing in UK schools, the Royal Society report was informed by evidence gathered from individuals and organisations with an interest in computing.
Key points of the report include:
Over the past year I have been working with a number of inspirational teachers and had the pleasure of keynoting at the Computing in Schools annual conference. One of the key drivers for me with the children at school is simply getting them inspired and looking at ways of making Computer Science in lessons, exciting interesting and more importantly thought provoking at the impact technology has on everyone lives.
Over the last year I have worked with a number of inspiring teacher from the Microsoft Partners in Learning programme.
One of these teacher is Ray Chambers. Ray has successfully included programming into his curricula using tools such as Kodu, but as they progressed, he didn't want them to be simply complacent or loose interest so he decided to step it up a notch and get his students understanding functions.
He also wanted to start introducing arrays and if statements into their vocabulary. This you may think would be a huge challenge but during BETT last year I introduced Ray to a great friend and fellow Partner in Learning Teacher David Renton and David simply evangelised Ray to the power of the Touch Develop platform.
I am pleased to announce that Ray has now successfully developed an entire Scheme of works for Touchdevelop for the GCSE CS curricula.
The following is a guest Blog by Ray Chambers ICT teacher / Lead Practitioner at Uppingham Community College
To see how each of the lessons map into the new national curriculum, you can follow the links on the images.
Each of the links will take you to the video you need. Alternatively, you can click on the links below in order to go through the scheme of work lesson by lesson.
TouchDevelop is a programming environment that runs on your mobile devices. You write scripts by tapping on the screen. You do not need a separate PC or keyboard or even a PC as Touchdevelop works on any device with a web browser.
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 Store or Windows Phone Store.
Ray has developed the scheme of work which will allow students to break in slowly and progress, learn and be inspired at each step.
The first lesson starts off by introducing them to variables, backgrounds and sprites. They will be able to add a character into their game and they will be able to use variables to change the height and width of characters. Ray has attached some PDF’s to support and the videos on this page will support the learning. The materials are free to download and let me know if they have been useful.
Lesson 1 – This lesson introduces the basics and shows the environment to students. This lesson should get students creating a background and a character using variables. Click on the resource above for a walk through on creating and setting up the background on program. Click on the resource above for a walk through on creating your own characters / sprites within a game or application.
Lesson 2 – This lesson introduces the game loop event. This tests for interactions over and over to see what is happening. Lessons are taught about IF statements and how to update text. Learn how to add the game loop event. This tests for what is happening (all the time). Think of this as a traffic light sensor which is always looking for what is happening next. Learn how to create text as part of your game. You also learn how to set the text on the text. This activity will allow your students to put things in the correct order in the correct table. Cut out the tiles and mix them up. Your students should be able to re-arrange this into the correct order.
Lesson 3 – This lesson introduces the basics of functions and procedures and shows students how they can update their existing code to be a procedure. Learn how to use some of your existing code and how to change to insert procedures. Learn how to set up a function which uses input and output perimeters. Learn how to use the function you set up in the previous walk through.
Lesson 4 - How to move characters across the screens without input from the user. Here is a quick pop quiz to test what your students have marked so far. Most of the questions ask them to explain the knowledge they’ve gained so that you can judge their answers. Here is a quick guide to changing the X and Y variables of sprites so that they can move on their own. You might like flying objects in a game and this introduces it to students.
Lesson 5 – Users plan and develop a program which will benefit their school. They must design screen shots of their game and talk about how they plan on meeting the requirements. Attached is a proposal which was made for an Appathon competition by me. You can see some of the screen designs. Students can do this task in PowerPoint or on paper. It is something they can use as an idea. Requirements sheet. Students must write out how they plan on meeting the client needs in order to achieve marks for planning. The next lesson will focus on pseudo code.
Lesson 6 – Users plan and develop a program which will benefit their school. They’re required to use Pseudo code during this lesson. They need to think about the code and understand the importance of writing a structure of code before making it. Pseudo Code activity sheet 1 – Get students to write some structured English to help them understand coding. Pseudo Code activity sheet 2 – Get students to underline variables which might be used within Pseudo code.
Lesson 7 – This lesson allows the students to start building their application. The video tutorials are embedded and it is a large file. Alternatively you can watch the video from the tutorials attached.
Lesson 8 – This lesson introduces the final stages of development to students and talks to them about the importance of testing. There are examples of test plans in the slides for you to try with students.
Here are a few Bonus Lessons to support different aspects of the new national curriculum.
Lesson on Algorithms Resource which show you how to make a cup of tea using algorithms Instructions for Resource 1 on making a cup of tea. Students are required to make their own algorithm using this task.
Lesson on Data Types
Lesson on Logic and Logic Gates Logic Gates work sheet to support task. Logic Gates work sheet answers for previous task.
Publishing your App to Windows 8
If you follow these steps, you can publish your own students apps to the Windows store.
This guide was developed as a starter guide for anyone who is working with touch develop and their students.
If you would like more help about Touchdevelop and how Ray is using it in his curricula you can contact him via Microsoft Partners in Learning or his blog at http://raychambers.wordpress.com/
If your a UK teacher, lecturer or researcher and interested in becoming joining the Microsoft Partners in Learning UK team please see http://www.pil-network.com/
If your interested in Touchdevelop please see http://www.touchdevelop.com