This is one of those “Are you sure? Really sure?” blog posts. Where somebody tells you something, and you ask “Are you sure? Really sure?”
So I have checked this, and now had it confirmed by the announcement of it in a Bill Gates speech this evening.
We have announced that the DreamSpark programme is now open for school students. DreamSpark allows students to download, for free, a big pile of developer tools – which they can use for educational purposes.
Here’s the software, straight from the DreamSpark home page:
There’s quite a few products, but I think some of the most popular will be Expression Studio, Visual Studio Professional, XNA Game Studio and the Robotics Developer Studio.
Read the FAQ web page which contains a good summary of the programme, and how to activate it for your school. Basically, somebody in the school registers, and they receive product keys to distribute to students. But students just download the software they want directly from the website – you don’t need to get involved in distribution.
There’s also free training courses and materials available for students – including free books, “learning snacks” for Silverlight, Virtualisation, Web 2.0 development, Windows Server, and the free Microsoft IT Academy Student Pass. And there’s even free certification – students can claim a voucher for a free “Microsoft Technical Specialist” exam.
The free exam offer is especially good if you’ve got any IT students leaving this summer – they can get a head start on students from other schools!
The free software is good for everyone of your IT students, whatever year they’re in.
I registered for this at my school in early February and can testify that the sign-up process for schools is quite straightforward. Coupled with the basic programming now being taught with Microsoft Small Basic, our ICT teachers have reported that it has really driven the enthusiasm of our students, especially the more able ones who were not being stretched by GCSE and A-Level.