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!
Many of you are aware that a few months ago my colleague Andrew Spooner (@andspo) developed a series of films which focused on various aspects of digital design and user experience.
A number of UK Universities used these videos as part of their guest lecture series, with the launch of Windows 8 Andrew is currently producing a new set of videos, the first of which has been taken up by .net magazine.
The concept of the video is based upon how we use words in our applications and how we can use tone of voice more consistently across communications, from the application to the error message. Andrew simple focus is help you understand, that when you consider the wider context of an application and the various places where you talk to your users, be consistent with your tone and ultimately, create more beautiful applications.
Here’s a link to the article and the latest film:
Andrew has presented a number of design events and spoken in more detail about the series of films. If you have creative events coming up, or if any of your interested in hearing from a expert design/UX speakers from Microsoft for large events, do get in contact.
Whether you are new to computing or have some experience, Digital Literacy will help you develop a fundamental understanding of computers. The courses help you learn the essential skills to begin computing with confidence, be more productive at home and at work, stay safe online, use technology to complement your lifestyle, and consider careers where you can put your skills to work.and click “go”, and you will be taken to the appropriate page.
Choose your language English (UK) & Welsh both available
The Microsoft Digital Literacy curriculum has three levels.
The Basic curriculum features a course called A First Course Toward Digital Literacy. This course teaches the value of computers in society and introduces you to using a mouse and the keyboard.
The Standard curriculum features five courses that cover computer basics; using the internet and productivity programs; security and privacy; and digital lifestyles. These five courses are available in four versions that use examples and screenshots from different versions of Windows and Microsoft Office. Please read the details below.
Computer Basics: Learn the fundamentals of computing, the components of a computer, operating system basics, and how to use a mouse and a keyboard.
Launch “Computer Basics” course
The Internet, Cloud Services, and World Wide Web: Learn how to connect to people, information, and resources around the world, using Web sites, search engines, and e-mail programs.
Launch “Internet, Cloud Services, and WWW” course
Productivity Programs: Games, demos, and interactive guides help you quickly learn the basics of word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and databases.
Launch “Productivity Programs” course
Computer Security and Privacy: Identify and protect your computer and data from threats, and learn the ethical and legal issues related to Internet usage.
Launch “Computer Security and Privacy” course
Digital Lifestyles: Learn how new digital technologies like smart phones and digital cameras are creating new career opportunities and shaping the world we live in.
Launch “Digital Lifestyles” course
The Standard curriculum is available in four versions.
Version 4 uses examples and simulations from Windows 8 and Microsoft Office 2013.
Version 3 uses examples and simulations from Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010.
Version 2 uses examples and simulations from Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007.
Version 1 uses examples and simulations from Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003 The Advanced curriculum features five courses that cover building your first app, creating an e-mail account, creating a great resume, searching for content on the World Wide Web and social networking.
Announcing the Windows Azure for Research LinkedIn discussion group!
The group will serve as an opportunity to connect and engage with researchers and domain experts to drive awareness of Microsoft Research and Windows Azure for Research. We’d like for you to be part of the community and discussions.
What is the Windows Azure for Research initiative?
This is a program designed to help the research community use cloud computing to handle the challenges of data-intensive science. The culmination of more than three years of experimentation with using Windows Azure for scientific research, the Windows Azure for Research Initiative will help scientists accelerate the speed and dissemination of scientific discoveries.
The initiative has four components.
1. The Windows Azure for Research Awards program will award up to 100 sizable grants of Windows Azure resources annually. The grants will be for individual projects or for community efforts to host scientific data and services.
2. The Windows Azure for Research Training program is a series of worldwide training events for scientific researchers. Specially trained Windows Azure experts present these free, two-day classes, which are designed specifically to give researchers the skills to use cloud computing in their current and future investigations. The classes kicked off in September 2013.
3. The initiative offers a collection of technical and curricular resources, comprised of online self-study materials as well as programs for classroom use.
4. Research community engagements will include our sponsorship of an annual Windows Azure for Research workshop as well as our participation in existing scientific gatherings.
Interested in finding out more?
· Visit and join the Windows Azure for Research LinkedIn group page.
Join the group to stay informed and join the conversation. Windows Azure for Research wants to hear from scientists and scientific researchers interested in using cloud computing for research. We will be regularly posting discussions and content for you to engage with and contribute to. This is an excellent forum to connect with researchers and cloud computing industry leaders to help build awareness of the benefits of using Windows Azure for Research.
Please also take a moment to follow us on Twitter @Azure4Research and use #azureresearch.
The results from these early efforts many of which are described on our website have been outstanding.
These pioneering projects have cut across disciplines, from bioinformatics to ecology, social network analysis, civil engineering, mobile computing, natural language processing, and more.
· Windows Azure for Research
· Windows Azure for Research Training
· Windows Azure Research Award Program
· Windows Azure Homepage
· Windows Azure Education Resources
· Windows Azure Marketplace
About two months ago the Windows Phone team issued a challenge to student developers over the summer holiday:
The challenge, to create an awesome Microsoft Expression Sketchflow prototype of a Windows Phone application.
The reward was to win one of 50 HTC Mazaa developer devices. The competition resulted in over 281 prototypes created and over 203 participants submitting prototypes.
So if your developing Windows Phone make sure your using Microsoft Expression Sketchflow which can be downloaded for FREE via Microsoft DreamSpark or MSDNAA and here are some useful tips and guidance on your designs.
Due to my role, I have interactions with Universities across the length and breadth of the UK. I have the great fortune of seeing best practices and some truly transforming faculties, departments and schools. From my visits I get to hear and learn from educators and I’m always inspired and amazed with the activity which is being undertaken. However innovation in education is a global issue and something we all must work to solve and identifying innovative teaching practices and the impact that they can have on student outcomes is a great place to start.
There is now a real need to transform education to align with the realities of life and work in the 21st Century. This is not just about the effective use of technology but about developing the future generation to be deeply engaged in the learning process and taking the initiative to learn and to continue to have the desire, passion and want to learn throughout their career.
As part of Microsoft’s commitment to education transformation, Microsoft have initiated the Innovative Teaching and Learning (ITL) Research project http://www.itlresearch.com
The purpose of ITL is to contribute information and policy insights on where and how effective education transformation is taking place around the world. ITL Research is a multiyear global research program designed to investigate the factors that promote the transformation of teaching practices and the impact those changes have on students’ learning outcomes across a broad range of country contexts.
Microsoft is working with global and local education leaders such as UNESCO and local Ministries of Education and will be sharing data and results openly with all research partners and with the broader academic education community.
The goal of ITL is to recognise the importance of innovative teaching practices, inspire others to commitment to scaling innovation and creating a foundation for holistic education transformation. Another exciting component of this project is the opportunity for individual schools and leaders to take part. Microsoft’s Partners in Learning School Research is a self-assessment survey research system that helps educators and school leaders understand and measure innovative teaching practices that develop the skills students need for life and work in the 21st Century.
The online tool is an incredibly powerful tool that will give individual leaders an opportunity to measure and identify innovative teaching practices and compare and measure against the global survey results.
The process is also very easy to administer…
1. A school signs up on this website. 2. A administrator from the school sends out the survey to all educators and leaders. 3. Each educator and leader takes a 15 to 20 minute online survey about innovative teaching practices. 4. Once the surveys have been completed, a research report based on the responses is sent to the administrator within 24 hours, who can then share it. 5. The report shows measures of innovative teaching practices and examples of innovative teaching practices. 6. The surveys can be repeated each year to track and measure progress.
Visit http://www.pilsr.com to learn more about this project and how your school can take part.
Also you can watch the video below which provides an overview.
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
Microsoft is very pleased to announce the release and general availability of the Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows Phone 7.
This toolkit is designed to make it easier for phone developers to leverage cloud services running in Windows Azure. The toolkit includes Visual Studio project templates for Windows Phone 7 and Windows Azure, class libraries optimized for use on the phone, sample applications, and documentation.
Get the bits on CodePlex here: http://watoolkitwp7.codeplex.com/.
For a great article on how to get started, please take a look at this wiki: http://watoolkitwp7.codeplex.com/wikipage?title=Getting%20Started&referringTitle=Documentation.
The toolkit contains the following resources:
For more information & coverage, please take a look at these resources:
Windows 8 offers unparalleled new opportunities for application developers to build and sell apps world-wide via the Windows Store. In this event, we'll deliver developer-level, demo-driven sessions that give you an accelerated entry into what it means to design, develop and publish exciting, modern, polished, world-ready applications for next-generation devices running Windows 8.
Were hosting a special one day event for UK Students only at
1. Beginners Welcome.
2. A familiarity with .NET development and Visual Studio would be advantageous but not required.
Register Now to avoid disappointment
Agenda (subject to change):
09:30 – 10:00 - Registration Opens
10:00 – 11:00 - Windows 8 for Modern App Development
11:00 – 12:00 - Metro Design Language
12:00 – 12:30 - Lunch
12:30 – 13:30 - "Metro Style" Apps - The Power of the Device
13:30 – 14:30 - “Metro Style" Apps - The Power of the Cloud
14:30 – 15:00 - From Idea to Store – Next Steps on the Journey
Try F# beta web based IDE, which makes it easy to learn the F# programming language, create programs by using F#, and share information all through a web browser.
The new Try F# allows developers and students to experience F# 3.0’s unique information-rich programming features for Big and Broad Data analytics, and solve functional programming problems more efficiently.
· Try the Try F# beta
· Learn about the Try F# beta in this video
· Read our blog
Last week at Mix11 we announced several updates to the services and offers for the Windows Azure Platform.
To support these announcements, the Windows Azure Platform team also released several new content resources.
The April 2011 Update of the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit is now available. The Windows Azure Platform Training Kit includes hands-on labs, presentations, and samples to help you understand how to build applications that utilize Windows Azure, SQL Azure, and the Windows Azure AppFabric.
This is a significant update of the kit that includes several new and updated hands-on labs. Some of the new/updated content includes:
The setup scripts for all hands-on labs have also been updated to use the Windows Azure SDK 1.4 release and to support VS 2010 SP1.
You can download the April 2011 update of the Windows Azure Platform Training kit from here: http://bit.ly/WAPTKApr11.
Microsoft is also continuing to publish the hands-on labs directly to MSDN to make it easier for developers to review and use the content without having to download an entire training kit package. You can browse to all of the Hands On Labs here: http://bit.ly/WAPCourse.
During Scott Guthrie’s keynote on Day #1 at Mix11, Niels Hartvig the founder of Umbraco also talked about Windows Azure. Umbraco is a very popular open source, .NET-based CMS application that is powering over 85K sites today. In the keynote, Niels talked about how Umbraco has been working with the Windows Azure Platform to provide it as an option for running Umbraco sites.
Niels Hartvig announced the Windows Azure Accelerator for Umbraco and also showed an example of Umbraco’s next major release, which will have integrated support for Windows Azure.
The Windows Azure Accelerator for Umbraco is now available for download from CodePlex.
This accelerator is designed to make it very easy to deploy an Umbraco application quickly to Windows Azure. The accelerator includes a step-by-step guide, scripts, and a simple deployment tool to make it easy to get started.
I would also recommend watching this 7 minute screencast created by Umbraco.
For more information about Umbraco and Windows Azure, please visit Umbraco’s Windows Azure page at: http://umbraco.com/azure.
In addition to the keynote presence at Mix11, Microsoft also had three sessions where Umbraco, DotNetNuke, and Kentico all talked about how they are enabling Windows Azure for their apps. You can find a list of these specific sessions and learn more about running CMS applications on Windows Azure from this new page on WindowsAzure.com.