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) and 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. The 6 different categories are as follows:
The Six Categories of Achievements
With the Visual Studio Achievements Extension, achievements are unlocked based on your activity. Your code is analysed 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 displaying the award. Each time you earn a badge, a unique page is created with your profile picture, the badge and a description. Students can then automatically tweet about achievements they earn and/or share them on Facebook.
Get Visual Studio for FREE via DreamSpark
Whether you’re a teacher, IT Manager or an Education Professional, following our social media channels is an easy way to keep up with what’s going on in the technology and education sector. By following us you can also learn about valuable tools, technologies and resources for your institution.
Take for our example our Slideshare Presentation eBook on Computer Games in Education. This is a really informative eBook about using and making computer games in the classroom. It provides practical information on how to increase student motivation and enhance learning. Also we have just released a great series of KODU Game Lab presentations where you can learn about teaching with Kodu - a new visual programming language that runs on Xbox made specifically for creating games. This classroom resource is designed for classes and after-school clubs who want to introduce Kodu in a single session.We also have various blog sites which are regularly updated. Each education level has its own blog site categorised into schools, further education, higher education and teachers. We post lots of useful information and tools for the education sector to our blogs, from new technologies to free resources for schools. Some of our popular blogs have included posts about Learning Suite (apps used for education) and cost saving in schools advice.By following us on Twitter you can be notified of all our latest blog posts, slideshare content and any other handy information around education and technology. We also retweet lots of industry experts and content we think you’ll like, so it’s great for an all-round education news and information feed. You can interact with us on Twitter and ask us stuff, or share our content with your followers by retweeting us. We tweet from many events too such as BETT, so you can keep up with all the latest education event information.If you use Facebook, we have a page that we update much the same as Twitter. Although in addition, our Facebook page is also updated with more teacher specific content and items from our Partners in Learning team. For example details about free teacher training camps and PowerPoint presentation ideas. Our Facebook page is great for sharing information with your colleagues and friends.We have recently set up a Pinterest profile too which we’re loving! If you don’t know Pinterest too well, it’s a pinboard style social photo and video sharing website. As well as looking pretty, Pinterest is a great way to organise things you love, and useful tools and information. Follow our Pinterest profile and you will find technology education information, education news, exciting products and anything else we like the look of. You can share our pins or boards with your followers too. One of our latest pins shows an image of an arcade console made by .NET Gadgeteer – an awesome tool used in schools to learn programming and electronics.
If you are a Google+ user, you can find our updates on our brand page Microsoft Education UK, with links to good presentations and blog posts. We post our online content here, as well as other updates such as World Maths Day including a link to maths resources for teachers.
We’ve just started using LinkedIn groups too. Our first one is Cloud Computing for Education, where you can discuss using Cloud Computing services in education with others in the education sector.
So that’s:Slideshare - slideshare.net/MicrosoftedukSchools, further education, higher education and teachers blogsTwitter - @microsoft_ed_ukFacebook - facebook.com/MicrosoftUKEducationPinterest - pinterest.com/microsofteduk/Google+ - plus.google.com/b/112225838285806108219/112225838285806108219/postsLinkedIn - linkedin.com/groups - Cloud Computing for Education
See you there!
As part of the on-going enhancements to the Xbox Live experience on Xbox 360, the BBC's iPlayer video-on-demand service is now available to all users in the UK.
The iPlayer service is a great way to catch-up on missed episodes of Doctor Who and the Apprentice (the new series starts this evening!), but what about its use within teaching and learning?
The iPlayer offers free access to a wealth of educational content, such as documentaries and current affairs programmes, all of which are made available on-demand via the service. The service also includes access to a plethora of radio content. With features such as the ability to 'Star' favourite shows and have them saved automatically, the service offers a flexible and easy way to access content and discover new material that may be relevant to a specific course or subject.
Jeremy Paxman's new series, Empire, for example, would be a great piece of content for sociologists, human geographers and historians alike, and can be easily consumed when and where the students chooses via the app, particularly if they have a smartphone device.
The beauty of the Xbox 360 application, though, is that it combines the ability to access content via the iPlayer service within a device that students love, and is a good example of the power of the consumerisation of IT in education.
Integrating the iPlayer experience within the Xbox 360 allows learners to access learning materials via the TV's in their living rooms or bedrooms, which ultimately enhances the overall impact and appeal of the content.
Furthermore, with the Xbox 360 iPlayer service being compatible with the Kinect, which allows for the app to be controlled via gesture or voice, great learning material is now only a swipe away.
As part of our focus on the consumerisation of IT in education, we will be watching the use of the iPlayer, and similar apps, closely.
For IT professionals and leaders in education, there is a lot to consider when choosing to take advantage of cloud services. Yes, it’s cost saving, time saving and has lots of other great benefits, but there are important things to check with your service provider to make sure you get the best out of your cloud services for education. Here are a few points that you should research with your cloud service provider:• How quickly will the service be recovered in a major incident? What are the SLA targets?• Portability. How easy will it be to move your data? Or share it?• Does your Cloud provider offer security for the service? • Do you have enough bandwidth capacity? Colleagues may be accessing multiple services at one time• What options are available for offline productivity?
Save money with Office 365 for educationAs well as fulfilling the points above, we also want to be cost efficient for education institutions to use. And that’s where we use the power of the cloud to bring these tools together in Office 365 for education. We have SharePoint Online and the Office Web Apps for true anywhere access, and we integrate this with Exchange Online, and Lync Online to bring it all together. We’re making our best services available in the cloud, helping to drive down the cost of managing hardware, negotiating versioning and upgrades, as well as giving you the ability to scale quickly and efficiently to meet the needs of your students, faculty, and staff. Office 365 for education represents everything we know about the productivity tools people love to use, available at scale in the cloud.
We know you love the way Windows Phone puts People First. Do you want to win one? Course you do! We have put together a competition for those people who like writing Apps for mobile devices. With our latest programme, only available to students aged 16 or over in the UK, we want to encourage you to write lots of Apps and submit them via App Hub into the Marketplace.
For EVERY app you write, during the periods of the competition, (see the detailed terms and conditions here) you’ll have a chance to win one of 100 Nokia Lumia 800 Windows Phones. We also want to reward those who write top quality Apps so we are complimenting the random prize draw with a judged competition, the top prize being a trip to our offices to spend a day honing your skills and your Apps with our deep technical experts.
Putting it simply
To enter the competition you simply need to register with your LiveID, App Hub Publisher name, preferred contact email address and mobile phone number and that’s it. Obviously you then need to publish Apps to have a chance of winning.
Blog post on behalf of Mike Morris - Further Education Business Manager (Twitter: @FEMikeMorris)Our events are an excellent way for colleges to find out more about Microsoft’s free products and programmes, and how they can save money in education institutions. Our latest event for FE colleges is with the JISC Southwest RSC, on Tuesday 20th March at the Energy Skills Centre at Bridgewater College. This event has hadlots of interest and is unfortunately now full, but we wanted to show the format of these kinds of events for future reference. Some great Microsoft FE partners will be at tomorrow’s event to talk about recent successful implementations. There will be some useful discussions to support IT Operations and Academic ICT, whatever their areas of interest. We’ll be sure to post how the event went, and let you know about any similar upcoming events.
Tuesday’s event will include the following:
9.30 Arrival, Coffee & Registration
9.50 Welcome & Introductions, Mike Morris - Microsoft
10 SharePoint 2010 Review of capabilities, Max Holden - Collabco
10.45 Coffee Break
11 HyperV Review and SCCM, Richard Owen - Ultima
11.45 Microsoft Dynamics, John Drew – Crimson Consultants
13 MS Support for BYOD and Windows 8 Update, Richard Lane - Microsoft
13.30 Cloud-based Services (Live@edu /Office 365/ Exchange 2010), Richard Green - Microsoft
14.15 Coffee Break
14.30 Microsoft Technology Developments including windows Phone, & Free assets, Lee Stott & Richard Lane - Microsoft
As the opening sessions at UCISA 2012 come to a close, and the social festivities are about to kick off, there doesn’t seem to be a more appropriate place to be to make the following announcement. The post below from our Microsoft Office blog explains the announcement with much more clarity then I could, but in essence, in line with our longstanding commitment to education, we our making our “A2” service plan free to not only students, but also to faculty and staff. Exciting news!
“Customers continue to give us fantastic feedback on Office 365. Since we launched last summer, we've been happy to serve great companies like JetBlue, Patagonia, Campbell Soup Company, Groupe Marie Claire, and Tata Steel Europe. We're regularly delivering new value in the service, releasing updates now monthly, and recently brought Office 365 to another 22 new markets to grow our global footprint to 64 geographies - with more to come! As we rapidly add customers, the cost to run Office 365 becomes more efficient. This is the beauty of the cloud where we can deliver economies of scale through our worldwide data centers and economies of skill with our engineers, administrators, and support teams operating the service. With these efficiencies, we're able pass on savings to make it even more affordable for customers of all sizes to move to Office 365. So, I'm thrilled to announce that we're lowering the prices of most of our Office 365 for enterprise plans by up to 20%. These changes are effective today at Office365.com for new and renewing direct customers. We are also excited to make pricing changes to Office 365 for education. In line with our longstanding commitment to education, we will make our "A2" service plan free to not only students, but also to faculty and staff. A2 includes the core capabilities of Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync and the Office Web Applications. Exchange Online and Lync Online are available today for academic institutions, and we'll launch the full Office 365 for education service starting this summer. You can get more information on our Office 365 for education offering here. I want to thank all our customers and partners for making the last eight months a great start for Office 365. Kirk Koenigsbauer Microsoft Office Division”
“Customers continue to give us fantastic feedback on Office 365. Since we launched last summer, we've been happy to serve great companies like JetBlue, Patagonia, Campbell Soup Company, Groupe Marie Claire, and Tata Steel Europe. We're regularly delivering new value in the service, releasing updates now monthly, and recently brought Office 365 to another 22 new markets to grow our global footprint to 64 geographies - with more to come!
As we rapidly add customers, the cost to run Office 365 becomes more efficient. This is the beauty of the cloud where we can deliver economies of scale through our worldwide data centers and economies of skill with our engineers, administrators, and support teams operating the service.
With these efficiencies, we're able pass on savings to make it even more affordable for customers of all sizes to move to Office 365. So, I'm thrilled to announce that we're lowering the prices of most of our Office 365 for enterprise plans by up to 20%. These changes are effective today at Office365.com for new and renewing direct customers.
We are also excited to make pricing changes to Office 365 for education. In line with our longstanding commitment to education, we will make our "A2" service plan free to not only students, but also to faculty and staff. A2 includes the core capabilities of Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync and the Office Web Applications. Exchange Online and Lync Online are available today for academic institutions, and we'll launch the full Office 365 for education service starting this summer. You can get more information on our Office 365 for education offering here.
I want to thank all our customers and partners for making the last eight months a great start for Office 365.
Microsoft Office Division”
For those at the UCISA conference, we look forward to answering your questions regarding the announcement on stand 22. Pop over and speak to Damon, Richard or Stevie.
Come and join us on the 27th of March in Newcastle where we will be discussing the Consumerisation of IT and how to Manage consumer devices on networks. We hope that this event will be of interest to students, academics and IT Pros. The event will give you a glimpse of the latest technologies that Microsoft are running in the world of Virtualisation.
Event: Consumerisation of IT/ Manage consumer devices on a corporate network
Date: 27th March 2012
Location: Novotel Newcastle Airport, Ponteland Road, Kenton, Newcastle upon
This year the UK Tech.Days team have changed the format of our traditional Tech.Days theatre events into a series of ‘Boot Camp’ style seminars. The aim of these is to allow IT Professionals to have more discussion time with evangelists like Andrew Fryer, and the community to share common problems and solutions – and we’re looking for your help to share these with your users.
The Newcastle Event will host approx. 70 people with a mixture of discussions and practical demonstrations. Although there will be a loose agenda, it will be PowerPoint-free event, allowing the hosts to focus on the questions that our guests ask.
For the event in Newcastle, we will be focusing on the Consumerisation of IT which a key topic within the UK Education sector
Registrations are now open and can be found here
When considering the future impact of technology on teaching and learning there is an element of crystal ball gazing. That being said, working for an organisation such as Microsoft offers me some unique insights into the plethora of new technologies that are becoming available, which, in turn, allows me to make the odd educated guess on this subject. We are all learning, though, and it would be great to get your thoughts and suggestions in terms of how teaching and learning will be impacted as a result of emerging technologies.
Before looking into the impact of future technologies on teaching and learning, though, I thought it would be useful to look at some examples and scenarios of how we are going to be using technology in the near future. Microsoft's Productivity Future Vision, shown below, does an interesting job of showing how some of the technologies we are already using, such as mobile, touch interfaces and location based services, are going to potentially evolve and add even great value to our lives in the future.
With some of the examples shown in the video already being realised both in our day to day lives and in the classroom, there are also number of trends developing that are creating the perfect environment for some significant changes in terms of teaching and learning, but also learning environments themselves.
The current economic climate, and the resulting budget cuts, is one of the most significant trends currently impacting the sector. As a result of the budget cuts, and the challenges and opportunities associated with these, schools are being required to do more with less.
Furthermore, with the changes with the global economy as a whole, education, more than ever, needs to evolves and become more relevant. STEM based skills are a prime example of this. The IDC predicts that in the next decade, 77% of all jobs will require technical skills yet there are many countries that are not producing STEM graduates to fill those jobs. With this in mind, the education sector as a whole, combined with industry partners, clearly needs to step up to the challenge to address these gaps!
Another core trend that is impacting the sector, and society as a whole, is the concept of social connections. Through web apps such as Facebook and Twitter, the world is becoming increasingly interconnected and economies and cultures intertwine more and more. It is not uncommon, for example, for students and faculty in completely different geographic locations to connect virtually.
Additionally, social media now dominates as a real time feed for news, stories and world sentiment and you only need to look at the Arab Spring uprising to see the real impact of the power of social media.
A third major trend impacting the sector, and arguably most relevant to the topic of this post, is technology itself. Recent advances in technology have created a wide range of new and exciting ways to engage with content and interact with our devices.
Natural User Interface (NUI) is a great example of this and the Kinect device has helped brought NUI to a mass audience that is extending much further than just gaming. The video below offers a great overview of this.
Touch and gesture is another major technology trend and you only need to look at how children as young as 2-3 can pick up a touch based device and instinctively navigate around the environment. Amazing!
Additionally from a technology trend perspective, the cloud is a massive development and is changing the way that we consume and purchase software and services.
The impact of many of these trends on education and learning is huge. The cloud and more ubiquitous connectivity is driving a significant increase in the blending of informal and formal learning. Driven by the digital content revolution, powered by eBooks and apps etc, many students are studying when and where they choose and , in many cases, coming into the classroom already pre-wired with content.
Web services such as the Khan Academy, MIT Open Course Ware and a personal favourite, the Code Academy, is helping drive this. We still have a long way to go, though, in terms of how are taking advantage of technology within the classroom.
Advances in cars, planes and even mobile phones have not been replicated in education, with some exceptions clearly. This is quite a broad brush statement, but if you look at a classroom from a 100 years ago and compare with one today, its almost like a game of spot the difference. They are almost identical.
In some ways, our current use of technology in the education is actually a way for telling us far we haven't come.
Outside of the classroom, students use a wide range of devices to stay connected. When they step into the classroom, though, in many ways its like boarding a plane. They file in, buckle up, put their seat tables up and turn off all their devices. They are cut off from the outside world for the duration of the class and the use of social media and mobile devices, in particular, is off the table.
Back to the Future
Even when we do look at how technology is being used in the classroom, much of the recent developments have been around automating/digitising traditional ways of learning. While these uses, such as eBooks, add value, I would argue that we need to go beyond just automation and digitisation to realise the full benefit of technology in education.
Social connections and the web should play a key role in achieving this, but, if managed effectively, technology should actually be changing what we learn and how we teach.
Role of the teacher
So if young learners are coming to class/lectures already pre-wired with content and connecting with peers all over the world, what is the future of the teacher in all this?
With so much amazing (and not so great) content available, the role of the teacher is changing to act more like a curator or guide. The aim of which is to develop opportunities for young learners to have a more emotional connection with their learning material. With this in mind, the role of the teacher is more important than ever!
But what about the role of the device on all this? You often read headlines along the lines of 'digital devices have improved attainment in a particular school by 20%'. When I read that, I must admit a little part of me dies inside.
It wasn't the device that made the learner smarter. It was the teacher and student that improved attainment. The technology just serviced the journey.
Therefore, It could be said that technology and bad teachers has no impact and little scale, whereas technology and great teachers have the ability to help the learner achieve their full potential. Food for thought...
So what's the next step?
Creating emotional and personalized experiences using technology rather than simply digitizing traditional methods is going to be key.
There are many example of how technology is being used to create more engaging and emotional connections with learning materials, a great reflection of which is gaming in education. Gaming focuses on emotion. You can have funny games, scary games, adrenalin inducing games, and I believe that we need to get to this same place with the use of tech in education.
Games offer a wide range of benefits that are well suited to education, such as challenge, progression, reward and access to personalised real-time experiences. What's not to like!
Furthermore, within traditional education, failure is seen as a negative thing. In games, however, failure is seen as a positive part of the gaming experience. With a new game, you die/fail often. With experience, you improve until you eventually become an expert and conquer the game. Why is it not the same in education? A radical change in the assessment process would be needed, but this would be more reflective of the workplace and would be particularly relevant in a world that is needing to encourage and nurture more entrepreneurial tendencies.
In her book, Reality is Broken, Jane McGonical talks about the need to play more games to address global challenges, including education. Jane explains this concept far better than I can in the video below, and I highly recommend taking the time to watch the first 3-4 minutes in particular where she talks about the 'epic-win' face.
That’s where we need to reach with education in general and technology can play a significant role.
Impact on Teaching and Learning
Ultimately, technology is going to have a significant impact on teaching and learning. The power of the cloud and more consumer orientated devices are going to make anytime, anywhere learning more commonplace and accessible to all. Furthermore, with access to free, or very cost effective, learning content now becoming ubiquitous, the role of the teacher is going to evolve and become more important than ever.
With a eye on making education more relevant to the workplace, and with a focus on STEM based skills, building emotional and engaging connections with learning materials is going to be the key part in the next phase of development for teaching and learning and gaming in education is going to be a underlining theme throughout!
This blog post is based on the presentation I delivered at the recent Capita SIMS Independent Schools conference. The slides from the session are shown below.
There’s no doubt that innovative learning techniques create excitement and motivation for students as well as teachers, improving achievement and development for both. Providing contemporary learning experiences in education is really important for successful and forward-thinking institutions.
There are many challenges in today’s learning environment, such as improving learning outcomes, increasing efficiency, and competition from other institutions. Connected Education aims to help overcome these challenges, using the latest creative tools and collaboration technologies. The Connected Education tools which include eLearning concepts, sophisticated reporting systems and ideas to manage and secure IT efficiently, can greatly improve methods of working for ICT in schools.
For example eLearning enables students and academic staff to deliver and manage content from any device, anywhere, at any time. Pupils can write assignments, take notes and create multimedia projects using high-level software from wherever they are working – in the classroom, at home, or anywhere else.
Students can also improve projects by being able to communicate with teachers and fellow students using a range of software such as voice, video and instant messaging tools. This can largely improve the speed and effectiveness in which they are able to learn, ask questions and complete assignments. There are also many teacher resources within eLearning to help teaching staff put together engaging learning sessions, using multimedia presentations, podcasts, videos or interactive online courses.
Another effective element of Connected Education is the improvement of administration tasks within schools. Microsoft business intelligence solutions enable academic staff to collate performance related reports into easy to understand dashboards and graphs, in real-time. Reporting is simplified, allowing leaders to gain a better insight into their institutions and make informed decisions from the data gathered. The greater insight schools have, the more enhancements they can make to their learning approaches, making them high competition for other institutions.
IT Professionals and CIO’s in education organisations can also take advantage of Connected Education. Microsoft’s suite of smart tools can reduce IT overheads, as well as manage and secure IT networks more efficiently. For example, IT staff can automate the distribution of applications, updates and patches to servers, desktops and laptops across their network. Security, imperative in education institutions, can be strengthened successfully using Connected Education. Networks can be protected from attack by setting security protection criteria for networked PCs, automatically quarantining those that do not comply while they are disinfected or patched. Virtualisation software provided within Connected Education can also hugely reduce unnecessary overheads, for example you can consolidate all servers into one virtualised environment, create a virtual desktop so that software and applications can be accessed centrally across the network, and host applications and files in the cloud.
For more information on Connected Education, please refer to our dedicated microsite.