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June, 2012 - Microsoft UK Schools blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The UK Schools Blog
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June, 2012

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Instructional Writing with Kinect Sports


    Kinect Sports is highly intuitive. This means the actions in the game resemble many that occur in real life. The game also provides a useful tutorial before you start playing each sport which re-caps what you have to do to in order to succeed.

    Imagine that these tutorials were not there and you had to explain to another person how to succeed in one of the games.


    In this activity, we are going to challenge learners to write a piece of instructional writing that explains to another person (who has never played Kinect Sports before), how to play one of the games. This activity is a lot more challenging than it sounds and leaners will need to spend some time playing Kinect Sports and then breaking the components and actions down within the game.

    The hardest sports to describe are Football and Beach Volleyball. So it might be worth picking some of other sports in the game to describe as a first attempt. You can also make the challenge for learners harder or easier by stating if the person they are describing the game to has played the real version of the sport before. Learners need to be very familiar with at least one of the games within Kinect Sports. This will include playing the game and watching other people play the game.

    Kinect Sports also provides a really good opportunity for learners to carry out some virtual sports journalism.

    To find out more about using Xbox 360 and Kinect Sports in the classroom you can view and download our eBook below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Six Tips to Make SkyDrive your Cloud Backpack


    Originally posted on Windows Blog

    If you’re a student, it’s the same routine every day. You gather everything you need—your notebook for class, binder full of handouts, readings or homework assignments, textbooks, laptop, smartphone and maybe even your tablet. And of course your power adapters. Then you stuff it all into your backpack—everything you think you might need throughout the day—because you may not be back home until it’s time for bed.

    Surely, there must be a better way to have everything you might need without hauling it around with you everywhere you go.

    Well, there is. With SkyDrive, you get a “cloud backpack” where you can store, create and access all of your documents, notes, photos or files from anywhere. Our new SkyDrive at School page shows how anyone can get started with a cloud backpack, but we wanted to share a few extra tips to help you go “all in.”

    Tip #1: Upgrade your notebook and put it in the cloud

    OneNote 2010 is a powerful note-taking application that’s great for school. With OneNote, you can organize your notes by your classes, instantly search through them, draw graphs or diagrams, and even record your lectures. If you’re not using OneNote yet, check out these tips on the OneNote Blog to get started.

    To make OneNote even more useful for you, connect it to SkyDrive and try these suggestions:

    Study from anywhere

    By saving your notebook on SkyDrive, you can access it from any computer (even a Mac!) using the OneNote Web App. You can also study on-the-go since OneNote is also available on pretty much every mobile device.

    To save your OneNote notebook to SkyDrive, just click File and then Share to save it on the web.

    Screenshot of share on Web feature in OneNote

    Copy things to OneNote

    Whether for class or a research project, you can send printouts, screenshots or web clippings right to OneNote to stay organized.

    Find a helpful website for your research paper? Just highlight what you want from Internet Explorer and right click Send to OneNote 2010 to insert it into your notebook. You can send a whole webpage, a paragraph or image. OneNote will even show where you copied the content from so you can easily cite and reference it later.

    Screenshot of right-click menu with send to OneNote option

    Have a PDF or some other file from your professor? You can Print directly to your OneNote notebook and save it next to your notes from the same lecture.

    Screenshot of Send to OneNote option when printing

    To take a snapshot of anything on your screen, press Windows + S on your keyboard. You can also drop and drag an entire file into OneNote from your desktop.

    By default, OneNote always asks where you want new notes to go. You can set a default preference by clicking File, Options, and then Send to OneNote. If you select a notebook that’s synced to SkyDrive, you can rest assured that anything you send to OneNote will be available anywhere, automatically.

    Screenshot of page to set default sent-to locations for OneNote

    Share your notes with classmates without a photocopier

    With all of your notes in the cloud, you can easily share them with your friends and classmates. From, just right click your notebook and select Share.

    Screenshot of feature to send link a link to your SkyDrive via email

    If you want, you can even give them access to your notebook so that they can add their own notes. Now everyone can work together in the same notebook, and studying for finals just got a little easier.

    Tip #2: Never be without your important files

    Odds are, you’re either working on an important project right now or will be shortly. Well, SkyDrive can help keep you more organized and make sure that you’re never without the files that you need.

    Screenshot of Welcome to SkyDrive page

    Screenshot of a SkyDrive folder and sub-folders

    When you install SkyDrive for Windows or Mac, you get a SkyDrive folder on your computer. Everything you save or copy there is automatically synced to your SkyDrive. So move your spreadsheets, downloaded articles, and everything else you’ve gathered. No matter what happens to your computer, you can easily get to your stuff from any web browser.

    Tip #3: Work with Office anywhere

    SkyDrive does more than store your files. It also works with free Office Web Apps so you can view, edit and print from any web browser.

    If you’re working on a Word document on your laptop at the library and your battery dies, you can easily pick up right where you left off just by logging into at the computer lab. If you get inspired on the bus ride back home, you can update your document using the Office Hub on your Windows Phone. You can rest assured that your formatting remains intact.

    Any changes you make will be waiting to sync when you plug in your computer back at your dorm room.

    What’s more, SkyDrive also keeps track of the various versions of your Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. So don’t worry about renaming your files V1, V2… V14a. Just work in the documents saved in your SkyDrive folder and SkyDrive will take care of the rest.

    Screenshot showing current version of a file and the version history

    Tip #4: Never leave something at home again

    You’ve been there before. You’re at the computer lab ready to print out your paper and you forgot your USB drive. Or you’re away from your computer and you realize you didn’t email your TA your homework assignment. Or maybe you’ve just met someone at a company you’d like to work for and you want to send them your résumé, but you won’t be home for hours.

    These aren’t a problem anymore. Even if you forget to put something in your SkyDrive folder—or never thought you’d need it there—you can still access it from any computer. SkyDrive for Windows lets you fetch any file on your personal computer (as long as it’s online) from

    Once you find that paper to print, you can click Copy to SkyDrive and use Word Web App to view, print and share.

    Screenshot of a SkyDrive account accessing a SkyDrive folder on a remote PC

    Tip #5: Scan papers to SkyDrive using your phone

    From handouts to class readings, old notes or recent assignments, you have so much paper to carry around and keep organized. Why not scan and upload everything to SkyDrive?

    Use a smartphone app like Handyscan for Windows Phone (shown below) or Docscan for iPhone to create PDF versions of all of your handouts, homework, or even lecture notes from your friends. You can save the files directly to SkyDrive and they’ll be synced across your devices.

    If you want to do more – like add comments or keep scans alongside class notes, you can import PDFs and other files into OneNote.

    Screenshot of the Handyscan app scanning a newspaper

    Tip #6: Access files on the go

    USB drives are easily left behind. Emailing yourself documents makes it easy to lose track of the latest version or crowds your inbox.

    With SkyDrive, you can access everything, all around campus, from any web browser. You can also use the SkyDrive app for Windows Phone, iPhone and iPad, or Android apps—no matter where you are.

    Images of desktop, laptop, iPad and phone accessing a document on SkyDrive

    Bringing a cloud backpack to every student and teacher

    While we hope these tips are helpful, we know it will take some time before everyone upgrades to a “cloud backpack”. Here are a few ways you can help:

    If you are a teacher, share class materials or class notes directly using SkyDrive. You can also provide feedback on assignments and papers through shared documents.

    If you are a developer, use our APIs to integrate SkyDrive into applications that students use and love.

    And if you are a student, what tips did we miss? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter how you’re using a cloud backpack today. We can help spread the word!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    The common language of games


    Taken from our Playful Learning: Computer Games in Education eBook by Ollie Bray (available to view and download below)

    I’ve seen lots of badly dubbed films but I have never seen a badly dubbed computer game. Yet children play the same games in different languages all over the world.

    In 2010 I took a group of young people from my school to Alaska and, amongst other things, we spent over two weeks canoeing above the Arctic Circle. We finished our canoe trip at the small Inuit village of Noatak.

    The people who lived at Noatak were the first people we had seen in weeks and naturally our young people talked and socialised with their young people. What did they talk about… computer games! The games talk established a common interest and the feeling of security followed by all sorts of wonderful conversations about culture, lifestyle and the environment. Xbox LIVE® ID’s were exchanged and relationships around this internet of games continue to be developed online between young people who live thousands of miles apart on different continents.


    Games bring people together and they always have. That is why the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup are so important. Used in the right way, computer games can achieve a similar objective and I believe that global online games to the current generation of young people will be as important as large sporting events are to mine. Most importantly, online gaming encourages conversation between young people across cultures and I strongly believe conversation in the long term can reduce conflict.

    How can games be used in schools?

    There are a number of ways that games can be used in schools including supporting existing educational outcomes, as a stimulus for thematic learning and also to get young people creating content rather than just consuming it through computer games design.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Virtualisation in your school: deciding on hardware


    Taken from our Virtualisation with Microsoft® Hyper-V eBook (available to view and download below).

    We recently published a post about deciding on the technology for your virtualisation scenario in your school.  Now we are going to address how you choose your hardware. This means working out how many host servers you will need to buy, and to what specification. The factors governing this decision include –

    • Number of virtual servers
    • Network bandwidth required
    • Memory requirements of virtual servers
    • CPU requirements of virtual servers
    • Storage

    All these will have an impact on your virtualisation design and purchasing so let’s look at each one in more detail.

    Number of virtual servers

    As we saw in the virtualisation scenario, the number of virtual servers you plan on hosting can have a large effect on your hardware decisions. If you only ever plan on hosting a small number of servers then you may very well get away with just one virtualisation host, but remember that this will not give you any redundancy if your host dies, or any room for growth.If you plan on hosting a large number of virtual servers, then this will force you down certain paths about the number of hosts and the storage of the virtual hard drives.

    Network bandwidth required

    When you are designing your host servers then the network resources required by each virtual server will have an impact on the number of network interface cards (NIC) that you will have built into the host server. You need to consider that if you host 5 servers on a host and only have 1 NIC then all data traffic will be going down that one network card. This may have a detrimental effect on your user’s experience. Later, we’ll discuss the setting up of the management side of virtualisation, which will take up at least one NIC for management traffic across the network.

    Memory requirements

    The amount of available memory has a massive effect on how any computer performs. This is no different in servers and in some ways it is more important. When designing the memory requirements for your host servers you will need to consider both the memory requirements for the host server and also for all of the virtual servers. Let’s look at the setup.


    Let’s assume that each of these servers has 10Gb of memory and we are going to virtualise all of them except the Active Directory Server. A quick calculation shows us that for the virtual servers we will need 30Gb of memory and if we give the host the minimum of 4Gb then the host server will need 34Gb of memory.

    That seems simple, and to some extent it is. But as we’ll see later, if you are planning for redundancy, then that minimum is not enough. Instead, you will need to allow enough total memory on your host servers to cope with the failure of 1 or 2 of them, and the consequent failover of the virtual servers installed on them to the remaining hosts. In Hyper-V this is called failover clustering and is the best way to ensure that your users are not affected if you suffer the failure of one or more virtualisation hosts.

    Central Processing Unit (CPU) requirements

    Designing your CPU requirements for your host servers is done in a very similar way to the memory requirements. You need to consider how much CPU activity, and what load, each of your virtual servers will take – plus the load that will be required by the host operating system. You also need to give consideration to what will happen in the event of a host failure and the failover of other virtual servers to the remaining hosts.



    How you connect to your storage solution is also a key factor. Two of the main choices are iSCSI and Fibre Channel. Which you choose can be affected by a number of factors, but the common choice among education is iSCSI mainly because of the cost.

    Once you have chosen your system of connectivity then you need to consider how much traffic will be travelling between your hosts and the storage system. You also need to consider redundancy. Again, a single point of failure could be introduced if you connect all your hosts to your SAN or NAS using a single network cable and switch.

    A simple scenario is shown in the diagram below, this shows two routes for each host to access the storage system. This will remove the connectivity single point of failure.



    Throughout your planning and implementation of virtualisation, you need to have an eye on the future. This means knowing whether, and how, you can readily expand the capacity of your system.

    This, of course, includes your storage solution, and that’s where what’s called “Dynamic LUN expansion” comes in.

    When setting up your storage system, you will purchase two distinctly different items, the physical hard drives and the ‘housing’ for them to go in. The housing is the piece of equipment that will manage your hard drives, the iSCSI connections and the partitioning of the hard drives into what are called LUN’s which then you can connect to your hosts. Here’s where, if you haven’t considered how your environment will grow, you could lock yourself into a situation where if your storage system becomes full you may need to remove all the current LUN’s before you can increase the amount of available storage space.

    That’s because some of the low end storage solutions will have the basics, such as RAID array ability, dual controllers, dual iSCSI connections but will not have dynamic LUN expansion. This basically means that once you set the size of the LUN on the storage box it is fixed and if you ever want to increase the size you will need to backup all the data, delete the LUN and then rebuild it with the increased size. Some of the more expensive storage solutions, though, do have dynamic LUN expansion, which is the ability to increase the size of a LUN as you insert more physical hard drives. As so often, the major factor in this decision is obviously cost. The more features in a storage solution the higher the cost. 


    You can view and download our Virtualisation with Microsoft® Hyper-V eBook below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Microsoft Certified Trainers Explain MCSE


    Originally posted by Born to Learn

    We came across two great videos made by Microsoft Certified Trainers, in which they both share their take on the new MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert) and explain what the changes mean to MCITP. We (Microsoft Learning) made the announcement, but it takes Microsoft Certified Trainers to really break it down for you. Watch and listen to both as they're two very different styles but equally informative.

    Businessman and IT Team

    Thank you to Doug Bassett and Michael Murphy for the videos and messages, and hat tip to Chris Avis (we found Michael's video via Chris' blog).

    You can see view the videos on the Born to Learn blog here

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    The Sunday Papers Edition: 3rd June


    This week’s roundup of posts -

     Kodu student activity: eating apples

    New online safety features coming in Windows 8

    Microsoft Kinect SDK 1.5

    University of Southampton sends a Nokia Lumia 800 to 105,000 feet

    “We must stop seeing education as a competitive process; between schools, communities and nations, and realize that the most successful systems are founded on collaboration.” – UK

    Virtualisation in your school: deciding on your technology

    Moodle 2.0/2.2 OpenSource Solution for Azure

    RM Technical Seminar, Birmingham

    Collaborate and communicate from anywhere with Lync Server 2010

    Happy Jubilee Weekend from everyone here in the UK Education team!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Kodu student activity: eating apples


    Kodu is a new visual programming language made specifically for creating games. It is designed to be accessible for children and enjoyable for anyone. The programming environment runs on the Xbox, allowing rapid design iteration using only a game controller for input.

    You can view and download our eBook below to learn more about Kodu and how to get started. Here is an activity idea of how you can use Kodu in the classroom.


    Activity – eating apples


    Add object; change colour; select object; create sequential programme for object.

    Directions for Class:

    “Think about what you have just learnt. Now work with your groups to complete each of the following tasks. Check them off your list as you go. Don’t forget to make sure each of your group member solves some of the To Do’s from the list. Work together to come up with the best solution.”

    To Do Checklist:

    - Open the world ‘Small with water’

    - Add an apple

    - Make this apple blue

    - Add Kodu to your level

    - Make Kodu find the apple that you just added

    - Make Kodu eat the apple once he finds it

    Then, you are free to play with adding other objects, adjusting Kodu’s behaviors, changing the environments. Ask for help if you need it.

    Challenge Activity

    CONTROLLER VERSION: If you do not already control Kodu with your Xbox 360 controller, change your programme so that you can drive Kodu to the apple. (The left stick controls movement).

    KEYBOARD VERSION: Change your programme to use either the arrow keys or the mouse to move the
    Kodu (WHEN-keyboard-DO-move, or WHEN-left-mouse-DO-move-towards). What other things can you control with your Xbox 360 controller or mouse?

    You can view and download the Getting Started with Kodu eBook below.

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