On January 27th, 'Xbox for Education', a joint effort between Xbox UK and DPE UK, began trading and marked a significant milestone in Microsoft's effort to further increase computational thinking and games development in young people and ensuring the Next generation has skills in coding as laid out by The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP Secretary of State for Education in England’s Computing Science Curriculum.

clip_image002Xbox for Education (www.xboxforeducation.co.uk) is a programme for UK schools, colleges and universities offering low-cost Xbox 360's with a 3-Year DreamSpark subscription to make coding and development more accessible and on a platform students are familiar with, Xbox 360. DreamSpark provides the tools to help students design and create applications and games for Microsoft Xbox as well as Windows Phone and Windows 8. It equips students with professional developer software and resources to explore the world of computing and to develop their passions and skills – at home as well as at school. It also equips and supports teachers through the provision of software and lessons plans.

Operated by Exertis GEM, the UK's exclusive Xbox distribution partner, levels of authentication have been implemented - to access the website, educational institutes must enter their Microsoft Education Licensing number as well as the post code. The units are also only shipped to the registered institute's address associated with the VL number, and institutes are capped to 5 units per SKU.

The idea developed by Lee Williams, Lee Stott and Steve Clark, aims to long-term grow brand affinity to Microsoft and the Xbox brand at a key stage in student’s development. The programme also has incredible potential to grow, including the introduction of Project Spark as well as other Microsoft lines such as Surface For Education and with the Nokia acquisition, Nokia handsets for the development of apps and games.

Skills in computer programming and logical thinking are the key driver in changing the way we live our lives.

The multiple platforms that people can develop on today means anyone with basic programming skills, has the potential to influence an industry that is richer, more vibrant and further reaching than ever before. With the launch of Xbox for Education, Microsoft http://www.xboxforeducation.co.uk is supporting the growing ecosystem of developers, whilst Microsoft DreamSpark is inspiring tomorrow’s games developers, and helping students discover how games work and encouraging them to create totally new ones of their own. DreamSpark provides the tools to help student designs and create applications and games for Microsoft Xbox, Windows Phone and Windows 8. The Microsoft Platform equips students with professional developer software and resources to explore the world of computing and to develop their passions and skills – at home as well as at school. It also equips and supports teachers through the provision of software and lessons plans via Microsoft Faculty Connection Resources http://www.microsoft.com/faculty.

‘This is all part of a much broader vision at Microsoft to ensure that every school leaver is IT literate. This is why alongside others in the industry, we worked hard to ensure that Computer Science, and not just ICT, will be part of the curriculum from this year. September will see those first lessons take place in Primary schools across the UK and we have been working hard to support teachers to deliver it so we can inspire a new generation of young people.’ Steve Beswick UK Education Manager

At Microsoft we believe teaching coding and programming skills from an early age is of the upmost importance to prepare young people for a range of careers in a variety of sectors and it will also help ensure the continued growth and success of the UK developer ecosystem. This is why we recently launched Microsoft Ventures accelerator, a scheme which aims to help today’s technology startups achieve success tomorrow.

Today’s developer ecosystem has itself evolved beyond software developers to bedroom-hobbyists, marketers as well as IT professionals, whose roles are increasingly touching development. You need only look at the developer community where, according to City & Guilds, 48% claim to have only started developing in the past five years. With this booming interest in development we seen a new wave of ‘Brave Developers’ emerge - those who despite the uncertain economic environment are either teaching themselves app development skills or are becoming champions within their organisations in bringing new innovative apps to market. This is bringing hope to the UK technology industry, with over 95% of these Brave Developers expressing optimism about the future of the app development sector.

Whilst we too remain optimistic about the future of the UK’s technology industry, the lesson we have learnt is that for the industry to sustain its entrepreneurial spirit and success, we must engage the next generation today, and with the launch of Xbox for Education we are one step closer to achieving it.

At launch 2 SKUs are available:
Xbox 360 E 250GB + 3-Year DreamSpark Subscription
Xbox 360 S 4GB Kinect Bundle + 3-Year DreamSpark Subscription

No Microsoft SOA is offered, instead GEM acts as a reseller taking away retailer margins, and the three-year DreamSpark subscription (worth $200) is provided courtesy of DPE.

Launched at BETT and Educational Press, the programme has already picked up momentum and positive reception from UK educational institutes.