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April, 2012

  • FE blog

    Microsoft Spring 2012 HE/FE Update


    ULCC (University of London Computer Centre) are hosting a morning briefing designed to showcase the experiences of two University's implementations of Microsoft technologies. The briefing is happening on Thursday 24th May 2012 from 10am until 2pm.  The event will finish with a chance to network with colleagues over a light lunch sponsored by Eduserv.

    The conference hashtag is #HEFEupdate12 for tweeting and blogging about the event.


    10:00 Registration and coffee

    10:30 Welcome

    10:35 Consumerisation and the Cloud - A Microsoft Perspective

    11:15 Lync - Recognising the Cost Saving Potential

    11:45 Break

    12:00 Office 365 Deployment at the University of Dundee

    12:45 Server Licensing and Office for Students

    13:00 Lunch and networking

    ULCC, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

    For further information and to register for the event click here.



    Eduserv develop and deliver technology solutions that demonstrate savings within Higher and Further Education, Government, Health and across the third sector. As a not-for-profit organisation Eduserv channels any surplus to research and development of services that will benefit the public good, today and in the future.

  • FE blog

    Launch of a new Social Media Level 3 Diploma with the City & Guilds


    As social media continues to change the way that brands and consumers interact, I am thrilled to be involved in the launch of City & Guilds new Social Media Level 3 Diploma. The launch event, held on the 9th May in London, addresses how the new qualification will help equip learners and employers for the new ways of business marketing.


    Social Media is now a key marketing tool for businesses of all sizes, and should be front and centre of any marketing planning moving forward. The new qualification helps prepare marketers and business for this new approach to marketing and covers areas such as the principles of social media for business, key words/optimisation, content writing and a range of technical modules that would be used to implement an effective social media strategy. Definitely doesn’t leave any stone left uncovered!

    Furthermore, this event will count towards delegates CPD.

    At the event, I will be delivering a work shop that covers some of the changes in the marketing landscape and how the use of social media can help organisations to better engage with their community and help them achieve their objectives.

    Event details

    This is a free full day event, held on the 9th May, and will run from 09.30 – 16.00.


    CCT Venues

    2 East Poultry Avenue


    EC1A 9PT

    Event Code: SME090512SM

    More information can be found on the City & Guilds website. Alternatively, if you have any queries, please contact Sue Bridge, Customer Support Events Coordinator on 01924 206777 or email: customer_events@cityandguilds.com.

    Hope to see you there!


  • FE blog

    Imagine Cup 2012 UK Results


    Originally posted on the UK Faculty Connection blog.

    On Wednesday 25h April at 16:00 BST, the UK hosted its local Imagine Cup finals webcast at the Microsoft Campus in Reading. The 6 finalists from the Software Design competition who were chosen from a round of preliminary judging were whittled down to the two top teams on 19th April through 5 hours of judging in a sealed room at our Microsoft offices in London Victoria. Through much deliberation over the next few days, we chose one team to represent the UK at the Imagine Cup worldwide finals in Sydney, Australia!

    Imagine Cup Software Design in the UK this year: A few stats


    · We had 991 registrations for the Imagine Cup UK this year

    · 374 of them signed up to the Software Design competition

    · 49 teams were formed for the Software Design competition

    · 26 teams submitted a Round 1 entry

    · 6 teams were selected for the UK final

    · 1 team won and will go to the worldwide finals in Sydney to represent the UK

    The Judges


    The Teams


    Bazinga! From Motherwell College – were inspired to use smartphone technology to inspire students all about Science! “Professor Duffy’s Interactive Labs app” is a complete science Lab on the phone utilising various sensors on the phone to demonstrate the practical side of science in a fun and interactive way.

    Teesside 0x32: From Teesside University was inspired to develop Cloud Doctor – In Ethiopia for example there is 1 doctor to 50,000 patients. Cloud Doctor, as the name implies, harnesses Windows Azure and Cloud technologies combined with Windows Phone and Windows 8 tablets to deliver an on-demand, flexible and intelligent collaboration system – connecting healthcare workers in the developing world with specialists and doctors all over the world who volunteer their time to help patients on the ground.

    Team EyeWorks: From Northumbria University and Newcastle College were inspired to develop MIRA (a Mobile Intelligent Retinal Analysis platform). MIRA is a cloud based platform that utilises Smartphone technology coupled with a specialist lens attachment developed at Northumbria University to identify early stage sight loss in the developing world.

    WykeWare: From the University of Hull were inspired to develop a smartphone application to assist those people with a risk of falling be it the elderly or people prone to fainting. Their submission embraced cloud technology to match emergencies and responders to identify how to prioritise how best to help.

    Sentient Systems: From the University of Reading were inspired to develop “Sentience” a cost effective software solution designed to run affordable , advanced and customizable robot systems utilising cloud based distribution, plug-in architectures, commodity frameworks and low cost hardware specifically Kinect!

    Team Loading: From The University of Manchester were inspired to develop Project Sky High. Project Sky High is a Windows Phone application combined with a netduino hardware sensor to allow aid workers in the developing world to transform a smartphone into a cost effective portable ultrasound scanner and mobile blood pressure monitor. The patient data will be recorded in the cloud in Windows Azure and accessible by a medical professional.

    The Winners

    In 3rd place and winners of a pocket digital video camcorder each were…


    In 2nd place and winners of a Windows Phone each were…


    In 1st place and winners of a Windows Phone each, a trip to the Microsoft Technology Center in Reading to spend a day with the experts and also the grand prize of a trip to Sydney, Australia to compete in the worldwide finals were…


    A huge congratulation to all teams who competed and this year the decision was made much harder than ever before as the entries this year far surpassed previous years.

    All teams who submitted a Round 2 video entry will be receiving feedback and teams who have won prizes will be hearing from the Academic Team very soon! Congratulations to Team EyeWorks and we will be seeing you in Sydney!

    Watch the Video of the Imagine Cup 2012 UK Live Web Cast relieving the Winners of the UK Imagine Cup entries. 

  • FE blog

    Visual Studio Achievements, bringing gamification to the IDE - Now with Azure Support


    clip_image001Last January, we released Visual Studio Achievements, bringing gamification to the IDE. The reaction from the developer community was very positive and we’ve had 85,000+ downloads to date.

    Today, we’re excited to announce an update to extension, adding 15 new achievements, all focused on Windows Azure development. You can read more about this on the official MSFT blog, the Windows Azure blog and, of course, on Channel9.

    Bring Some Game To Your Code!

    A software engineer's glory so often goes unnoticed. Attention seems to come either when there are bugs or when the final project ships. But rarely is a developer appreciated for all the nuances and subtleties of a piece of code--and all the heroics it took to write it. With Visual Studio Achievements Beta, your talents are recognized as you perform various coding feats, unlock achievements and earn badges.

    Learn More About Visual Studio

    Visual Studio is a powerful tool with tons of features, many of which you may not know about. Earning some of the badges may result in learning about features you didn’t even know existed!

    Download It

    Download it today from the Visual Studio Gallery

    How It Works

    With the Visual Studio Achievements Extension, achievements are unlocked based on your activity. Your code is analyzed on a background thread each time you compile. In addition, the extension listens for certain events and actions that you may perform in Visual Studio, reporting progress on these events to the server.

    When you unlock an achievement, Visual Studio lets you know visually with a pop-up:


    Figure 1 - Unlocking An Achievement

    In addition, your Channel 9 profile is updated with any achievements you earn, recalculating your position on the leaderboard:


    Figure 2 - The Visual Studio Achievements Leaderboard

    Some examples of individual achievements include Regional Manager (have more than 10 regions in a single class), Close To The Metal (use 5 preprocessor directives), Stubby (generate method stubs 10 times) or Interrupting Cow (have 10 breakpoints in a file). All in all, there are 32 achievements awaiting to be unlocked, all of which are listed here. Here's what the 6 different badges look like:

    The Six Categories of Achievements




    Customizing Visual Studio

    Don't Try This At Home

    Good Housekeeping




    Just For Fun

    Power Coder

    Unleashing Visual Studio

    Share Your Flair

    Each time you earn a badge, a unique page is created with your profile picture, the badge and a description. You can tweet about achievements you earn and/or share them on Facebook:


    Figure 3 - Share A Page

    Or, you can show a list of achievements on your blog using the Visual Studio Achievements Widget which is as simple as adding one line of script to your page. After all, those badges look so shiny and nice! Here's an example of the widget on a blog:


    Figure 4 - The Visual Studio Achievements Widget On A Blog


    We're just getting started with Visual Studio Achievements and are hoping to release more in the future. If you have ideas for additional achievements, we'd love to hear about them. Please use the Q&A section of the achievements extension to make suggestions for future achievements. And if you have suggestions, concerns, issues or problems, again, use the Q&A section of the achievements gallery page. Give a read to the FAQ as well as your question may already be answered.

    Download it today from the Visual Studio Gallery

  • FE blog

    The Sunday Papers Edition


    Its been a busy week on the blog. With 10 posts this week, its easy to miss the odd piece of content here and there. We are committed to continue sharing content on the blog with the same frequency, so thought it might be useful to produce a weekly summary post. A perfect accompaniment to the Sunday papers over a leisurely breakfast!

    Hope you have enjoyed this weeks posts. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

  • FE blog

    Microsoft’s Certifications Reinvented for the Cloud


    Institutions are increasingly turning to the cloud to improve productivity, cut costs and fuel business growth. By 2015 IT innovation produced by the cloud could create US$1.1 trillion a year in new business revenues according to a recent IDC study (1). As a result, top of mind for organisations today is making sure they have the right skills and people in place to help them fully realize the benefits the cloud has to offer.


    With this in mind, Microsoft has reinvented its certification program to directly address technology’s evolution to the cloud.

    “The changes we’re making will help technology professionals gain the skills they need to plan, design, implement and operate cloud and hybrid solutions today and into the future,” says Don Field, senior director of product management for Microsoft. “And it will help hiring managers find people who have the skills they expect in their IT environments moving forward.”

    Cushing Anderson, program vice president of the Consulting, HR and Learning practices at IDC, agrees. “Overall the changes to Microsoft’s certification program are an appropriate evolution toward greater industry relevance and business value.”

    A New Approach

    The revamped program is a wholesale new approach to ensure certified individuals have the skills required to steward an organization’s journey to the cloud.

    The new certifications align to real-world solutions rather than specific products and validate a broader and deeper set of knowledge and skills. Because many organizations will continue to have a mix of both cloud and on-premise technologies, the new solutions-based approach helps ensure technologists can work with a range of products and services and manage a mixed environment in a way that is seamless for users within and outside their organization.

    The new certification framework has also been streamlined to three skill levels to make it easier to navigate:

    • The Associate Level comprises the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certification, which provides a clear starting point for job seekers early in their technology career. Candidates must prove they have the required skills to hit the ground running. This level represents a foundation and is the prerequisite certification necessary to earn an MCSE.
    • The Expert Level comprises the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) or its developer equivalent, Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), and is Microsoft’s flagship certification for individuals who want to lead their organization’s transition to the cloud. These certifications recognize IT professionals and developers with broad and deep skill sets across Microsoft solutions.
    • The Master Level is the Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) certification that differentiates the select few from their peers and represents the highest bar of knowledge and skills validation.

    Microsoft is calling MCSE its flagship credential because it is the level that most people will aspire to, says Field. It validates an individual’s ability to design and build solutions that may integrate multiple technologies, versions and products. These are the new kinds of skills that are needed for the cloud.

    “Microsoft offerings, from on-premise to private cloud and public cloud, are very broad, and we are reflecting the breadth and depth of those offerings in the ways that we train and certify developers and IT professionals,” says Field. “With its rigor and completeness, the new MCSE is the embodiment of the solutions that Microsoft is bringing forward.”

    Anderson from IDC says the new MCSE acknowledges the evolution of the role of the IT professional. “The heterogeneous skills that this new approach will engender in both individuals and the certified community in general represent what it really takes to be successful.”

    The MCSE certification — or its developer equivalent, MCSD — also demonstrates an individual’s commitment to staying up to date on cutting-edge technologies because it requires recertification.

    For hiring managers and employers, recertification provides assurance that certified individuals have current competencies even amid a rapidly changing technology environment of service packs, revisions and new product version releases. In other words, it means the certification will hold its value over time, which is also crucial to the person who earned it.

    Raising the Bar

    The value of Microsoft certifications is something Microsoft takes very seriously. “We know that what we’re building is something that is really important to hiring managers, helping them to ensure that they have the right skills in their organization. Part of our motivation in the changes we’re making was to make sure we continue to do a better and better job of that.”

    “The bar is higher,” adds Field. “For an individual to successfully earn these new certifications, they’ll have to demonstrate real-world, hands-on experience — not because we want exams to be harder in their own right, but because that’s the skill level that’s needed in the marketplace to be consistent with the requirements the cloud is placing on IT professionals and developers.”

    For a full overview of the Microsoft certification process, check out our video below. Alternatively, to learn how to attain Microsoft certifications, visit the Microsoft Learning site.



  • FE blog

    All India Council for Technical Education to Reach 7 Million With Live@edu


    AICTE adopts cloud to improve technical education and prepare students for the workforce of tomorrow.

    Microsoft and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) recently announced that AICTE is deploying Microsoft Live@edu over the next three months to more than 10,000 technical colleges and institutes throughout India. The cloud deployment will expand students’ access to high-quality technical education and collaboration.

    Live@edu is a hosted communication and collaboration service that offers email, Microsoft Office Web Apps, instant messaging and storage to AICTE’s more than 7 million students and nearly 500,000 faculty members, for a total reach of 7.5 million users — roughly double the size of the Los Angeles population — making AICTE Microsoft’s largest cloud customer ever. Live@edu is the first step in AICTE’s deployment of Microsoft cloud computing for education. AICTE also plans to deploy Microsoft Office 365 for education when it becomes available later this year, providing access to Microsoft Exchange Online email and calendar, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Lync Online and Microsoft Office Professional as the technical infrastructure to support member colleges and institutes.

    “Microsoft’s cloud platform will make for a truly progressive ecosystem and contribute to the country’s technical education by providing a better communication and collaboration platform for institutes and students,” said Dr. S. S. Mantha, chairman of AICTE.

    Part of India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development, AICTE is the governing body for technical education in India, certifying and managing technical colleges and institutes in a country where the technology industry and higher education are both becoming increasingly vital to the economy. To carry out its charge of evaluating the curriculum and quality of education for all technical institutes across the country, AICTE needed to have consistent and timely communication with these colleges, some of which are located in the remotest districts of India. AICTE and the ministry wanted to deploy a technology system that would provide an efficient platform for students and the institutional framework and would foster efficiency and support broader educational reforms.

    AICTE reviewed solutions from a range of vendors, including Microsoft, IBM and Google. One of the major factors in the decision to choose Microsoft’s cloud services for education was Microsoft’s comprehensive commitment to education across all the company’s products and programmes, as well as the system’s seamless interoperation with the entire Microsoft product portfolio. The council was also impressed by Microsoft’s extensive experience in higher education and ability to deploy a system across geographically distributed locations without adding significantly to the institutions’ IT management costs or complexity.

    “India is seeing rapid economic activity and growth. Developing India’s youth and their skills is going to play an important role globally in the country’s inclusive growth,” said Anthony Salcito, vice president of Worldwide Education. “The union budget also laid emphasis on skill development and so does the proposed 12th Five Year Plan with a National Policy on Skill development. The PPP model (public-private partnership) is most essential in running and managing training institutions that provide every opportunity to address the skill gap most efficiently. Microsoft’s commitment to empower students by deploying Microsoft Live@edu to 7.5 million students, teachers and university employees across the country with AICTE is commendable and a step toward an informed and developing India. I congratulate both AICTE and Microsoft on this significant milestone.”

    “We are delighted with the confidence posed by AICTE in Microsoft,” said Sanket Akerkar, managing director, Microsoft Corp. India Private Ltd. “Microsoft has always seen education as a priority area and believes that technology offers possibilities that can help empower not just teachers and students but collectively India as a nation.”

    The implementation is already underway and is being managed by Microsoft and a set of Live@edu partners. Full deployment is expected to be complete by summer 2012.

    Live@edu is the leading cloud suite for education, with more than 22 million people using the service worldwide. At 7.5 million users, the AICTE deployment is the largest cloud deployment ever. Other recent Live@edu adoptions include a 700,000 cloud-based collaboration solution for the Kentucky Department of Education. The online service helps educational institutions provide email and enterprise-grade online tools to students and faculty while helping to reduce costs and simplify IT management.

    About Microsoft Live@edu

    Live@edu is a no-cost hosted platform for student communication and collaboration, providing industry-leading services to the global education market. Email and calendars with a 10GB inbox, 25GB of additional file storage, document sharing, instant messaging, video chat and mobile email are just part of the feature set. Live@edu provides students with the professional tools to prepare them for college or work from day one. Live@edu is accessible through popular Web browsers for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems — and easy to set up, administer and manage. More than 10,000 schools in more than 130 countries have enrolled in Live@edu, serving 22 million people worldwide. More information is available at http://www.microsoft.com/liveatedu.

  • FE blog

    How do Microsoft certifications relate to academic or vocational qualifications


    edOriginally posted on the UK Faculty Connection Blog.

    This is a question, I seem to be asked a lot at present….

    How do Microsoft certifications relate to academic or vocational qualifications?

    If your an existing Microsoft IT Academy member, we have lots of information on certification mapping available in the IT Academy members-only site that gives an overview. However, it is also possible by accessing the QCF Database. This database holds information relating to qualifications and units that are approved by Ofqual. Generally this means that they are available for delivery as components of academic or vocational programs of learning. Microsoft certifications relate to Units on the QCF.

    Here are a few pointers:

    • Microsoft certifications are “Units on the QCF”
    • Most Microsoft certifications are on the QCF
    • It is easy to search on the QCF to find which Microsoft certifications are listed
    • The information can be exported in a spread sheet
    • The QCF list the Units and any Qualifications that contain them
    • IT certifications are listed under 6.1 for IT professional and 6.2 for User
    • IT Professional Units are technical e.g. Windows 7 or Server 2008
    • IT User Units are applications like Word or PowerPoint
    • Units have a credit value and a level
    • Microsoft Units are contained in the ITQ, BETEC and many vocational qualifications. More recently, the Microsoft Technology Associate has been included or aligned in Apprenticeships and Computer Science GCSEs

    The following information shows how to check the detail of Microsoft Units and their possible inclusion in Qualifications:

    Go to http://register.ofqual.gov.uk/Unit


    6.1 and 6.2 cover ICT. Search on both. 6.1 lists IT Professional Qualifications (Practitioner)and 6.2 Lists IT User qualifications. You will be able to view or export to a spread sheet. The data includes Level and Credit values. Obviously it is possible to search for Microsoft in the exported data.


    Double click on the Unit Reference number and it will display the Learning Outcomes


    Use the link half way down the page, “View Unit’s Qualifications” and it will list all the qualifications that contain the Unit.


    Select the Unit and this now gives more information on the qualification


    And if you continue to scroll down the Ofqual Qualification page there is an additional link right at the bottom to the Performance Figures


    Microsoft certifications can attract Performance Points as Units within a Qualification

    An alternative way is to search for Microsoft at the initial stage by entering “Microsoft” in the title box. The list can then be accessed in the same way as above.

    The following document “Curriculum mapping to Standards” gives an overview of mapping.

    ITSkillsman are a Microsoft Academic Service Partner (MASP) and are able to provide independent advice on the inclusion of Microsoft certifications in programmes of learning.

    For more information please contact Mike Evans. e-mail mike.evans@itskillsman.co.uk or visit www.itskillsman.co.uk or www.itcertsolutions.co.uk

  • FE blog

    DreamSpark – Automating distribution of software to your labs and students via ELMS



    There are two options to distribute products to your students.

    The first, and most commonly used, leverage the e-Academy License Management System (ELMS) Webstore that comes with your subscription. ELMS is a Web-based software distribution system that program administrators can tailor to their department’s needs. ELMS is provided as a free benefit to DreamSpark member departments worldwide, so no additional fees apply in order to use it. Essentially, ELMS enables administrators to create a customized Web-based software and key distribution mechanism for their department, deploy it to their students, and enjoy the benefit of the maintenance-free record-keeping inherent to the ELMS system.

    Note: There is a brief deployment process, but the seamless record-keeping, broad distribution, and easy maintenance are significant! We highly recommend that all administrators consider the use of ELMS, which can be deployed in one of two ways:

    1. Campus-hosted downloads. This method of deployment allows administrators to create an account for their department on the ELMS Application Server, upload identities of all students in their department, and create a locally hosted (on-campus) download server that eligible students can use to get their software.
    2. Direct Student Download. This method of deployment allows administrators to create an account for their department on the ELMS Application Server, upload identities of all students in their department, and give eligible students access to a preconfigured download server.

    The second option is to use MSDN Subscriber Downloads to access any product keys that students may need to activate their products. While administrators cannot grant direct access to the MSDN Subscriber Downloads to students, they can download the software package and request keys from this site and give them to students.

    So what is ELMS?

    ELMS is a Web-based software distribution and management application hosted by e-academy. As a turnkey system, ELMS enables you to authenticate eligible students and faculty online and automate the ordering and distribution of DreamSpark software to students and faculty. 
    ELMS is available to all program administrators worldwide, and is currently available in six languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese and Portuguese-Brazilian. ELMS is available to your end-users in the following eight languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, Turkish and Russian. When you request your ELMS, please be sure to indicate your language preference.

    To get your private URL to your ELMS, please fill out this request form. The support team will be able to give you instructions on how to setup and configure your ELMS system.

    ELMS Training Resources

  • FE blog

    Get Online @Home – the cheapest PC and broadband package ever


    Originally posted on the Teachers Blog

    From today, Wednesday 25th April, Get Online @ Home will be teaming up with TalkTalk and SimplifyDigital to offer its best value PC, broadband and phone bundle ever.


    So what is the offer?

    For a limited time only, anyone can buy

    -a reconditioned Windows 7 PC with 12 months of fast, reliable broadband for just £99 [£49 to those on benefits] when taken with TalkTalk Essentials Broadband and Phone at an exclusive price of just £5/month

    -or a reconditioned Window 7 laptop with 12 months fast, reliable broadband for £149 [£119 to those on benefits], when taken with TalkTalk Essentials Broadband and Phone at an exclusive price of just £5/month.

    This will be available to both those on benefits and those who are not. In other words anybody here in the UK can take advantage of this great offer.

    This makes it an ideal option for Parents looking to support their children with an extra PC for their homework and is something your school could support them with. Firstly by letting Parents know about these offers, so why not put the links on your school website or portal. Or mention it in the next Newsletter. Let your student councils and your Digital Leader groups know. Also, if you know of any charities, let them know, as they can take advantage of this offer too.

    To date, over 4,000 PCs have been supplied to people across the UK through Get Online @ Home and research tells us that around 90% of these computers go to low income families on benefits. This programme is genuinely achieving its aim of reaching those who need extra support most.

    For more details go to www.getonlineathome.org

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