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August, 2012

  • FE blog

    Getting your hands on the new Windows 8 RTM code



    We have a number of programs that provides various audiences early access to the Windows 8 RTM code to help prepare for Windows 8 as it enters the marketplace this autumn, and offers a great way to ensure your institution is ready to embrace the benefits of our new OS ready for the start of the new academic year:

    • August 15th: Developers will be able to download the final version of Windows 8 via your MSDN subscriptions.
    • August 15th: IT professionals testing Windows 8 in organisations will be able to access the final version of Windows 8 through your TechNet subscriptions.
    • August 16th: Customers with existing Microsoft Software Assurance for Windows will be able to download Windows 8 Enterprise edition through the Volume License Service Center (VLSC), allowing you to test, pilot and begin adopting Windows 8 Enterprise within your institution.
    • August 16th: Microsoft Partner Network members will have access to Windows 8.
    • August 20th: Microsoft Action Pack Providers (MAPS) receive access to Windows 8.
    • September 1st: Volume License customers without Software Assurance will be able to purchase Windows 8 through Microsoft Volume License Resellers.

    In the meantime, if you’d like to give a pre-release version of Windows 8 a test-run, feel free to download the Windows 8 Release Preview!

  • FE blog

    Microsoft Unveils a New Look


    Originally posted on the Official Microsoft Blog.

    In advance of one of the most significant waves of product launches in Microsoft’s history, we are unveiling a new logo for the company.

    It’s been 25 years since we’ve updated the Microsoft logo and now is the perfect time for a change. This is an incredibly exciting year for Microsoft as we prepare to release new versions of nearly all of our products. From Windows 8 to Windows Phone 8 to Xbox services to the next version of Office, you will see a common look and feel across these products providing a familiar and seamless experience on PCs, phones, tablets and TVs. This wave of new releases is not only a reimagining of our most popular products, but also represents a new era for Microsoft, so our logo should evolve to visually accentuate this new beginning.

    The Microsoft brand is about much more than logos or product names. We are lucky to play a role in the lives of more than a billion people every day. The ways people experience our products are our most important “brand impressions”. That’s why the new Microsoft logo takes its inspiration from our product design principles while drawing upon the heritage of our brand values, fonts and colours.

    The logo has two components: the logotype and the symbol. For the logotype, we are using the Segoe font which is the same font we use in our products as well as our marketing communications. The symbol is important in a world of digital motion (as demonstrated in the video above.) The symbol’s squares of colour are intended to express the company’s diverse portfolio of products.

    Starting today, you’ll see the new Microsoft logo being used prominently. It will be used on Microsoft.com – the 10th most visited website in the world. It is in three of our Microsoft retail stores today (Boston, Seattle’s University Village and Bellevue, Wash.) and will shine brightly in all our stores over the next few months. It will sign off all of our television ads globally. And it will support our products across various forms of marketing. Fully implementing a change like this takes time, so there may be other instances where you will see the old logo being used for some time.

    We’re excited about the new logo, but more importantly about this new era in which we’re reimagining how our products can help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.

  • FE blog

    “It is very difficult to be innovative when you are working alone; it is much better to bounce ideas off other people. This is how ideas grow and is vital for moving education forward.”


    Originally posted on the Daily Edventures Blog.


    Nicki Maddams knows first-hand the power of games in learning, and her Kodu in the Klassroom demonstrates why. When Maddams discovered Kodu Game Lab, she immediately saw the potential to engage her students. She then developed lesson plans and resources which are now being used throughout the UK and around the world.

    Maddams soon discovered that Kodu was not only helpful in teaching computing and ICT, but it also provided a terrific tool to raise the level of literacy for struggling and disengaged
    students. Kodu was used by the students to create story-telling games and, according to
    Maddams, “Their english teacher was amazed at the improvement in their behavior and work ethic.” After an in-school pilot, she invited local primary schools to take part in the literacy project. Nine and 10-year old students visited Maddams’s school once a week for nine weeks to learn how to design and create their own games, while writing the storylines and planning content for the games. They even blogged about their work.

    Maddams shared her project at Microsoft’s European Innovative Teacher Awards in Lisbon, and will attend the November Global Forum in Prague to share the work with an even broader audience. Today, she shares with us her passion for teaching and her thoughts on the vast potential for game-based learning.


    Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?

    Within the subject I teach, ICT is often taught by non-specialists and therefore sometimes they may struggle with getting to grips with the subject. I frequently share my resources online through my website so other teachers can use these within their lessons and simply adapt to suit their needs. More recently in sharing the Kodu resources I have developed, I have received lots of positive feedback from teachers across the globe who are using my resources. This is particularly great to hear as it means more children are being opened-up to the world of programming from a young age!

    What has changed as a result of your efforts?

    More schools are using software that they may not previously have looked at. Not just in secondary schools but in primary as well, which is great to hear. Providing tutorials for teachers as well as the resources to teach the software has made it much easier for teachers to use new tools and technology in their classrooms.

    How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

    I try to make things as easy as possible for others; that’s why I share my resources freely through my blog. Hopefully this will take away the challenge for others who just want to focus on their classroom teaching and are not able, or do not have the time, to reinvent the wheel by creating lots of resources from scratch.

    How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

    Being an ICT teacher, the use of technology is an integral part of my day-to-day teaching. Most recently, the technology that has been particularly innovative is the use of Xbox controllers in my classroom when using Kodu Game Lab with the children. The most important thing is that technology should always be used as a tool and not simply used for the sake of ticking a box. I have an interactive white-board in my room but rarely use it
    as such because for me it’s often not relevant to what I am trying to teach.
    Our Math department, on the other hand, uses them frequently to good advantage.

    What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?

    Class size would be the main obstacle. Often students are required to share a PC as there simply are not enough in my classroom for the size of some of the classes I teach. In the UK, a number of schools that have been deemed as unfit for their purpose have been re-built in recent years. My school was on the list to be re-built but unfortunately our rebuild (along with a number of others) was cancelled due to lack of funding. As a result, many teachers in the UK are faced with teaching in rooms that are not fit for practice and not suited to children’s needs. For example, my classroom has leaked on occasions, quite dramatically, and gets so hot in the summer as there is no air-conditioning. It’s often quite difficult to engage the children when they’re wilting from the heat!

    What is your country doing right to support education?

    In terms of my subject, recently our Minister for Education has given us more freedom within the ICT curriculum and enabled us to teach more computing, such as programming, etc. This is great for my subject.

    What conditions must change in your country to better support education?

    There are frequent consultations at the government level regarding education, and the problems, as I see them, are that there are too many changes. Recently a lot of the guidance changed as to what should be included in GCSEs (General Certificate of Secondary Education) so the exam boards had to bring out lots of new courses to meet these requirements. The impact these decisions have on teachers is that we are then required to re-write our school curricula to match these requirements. In another couple of years, these requirements are likely to be changed again, leaving us to re-write resources again. In the news recently, the government suggested bringing back O-Levels and CSEs (UK standard tests) which were abandoned years ago because they were not suitable. I think it would be best to have fewer changes in education from a government level.

    What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?

    Computers play a huge role when looking at innovation as they offer so much flexibility with different types of software and hardware that are frequently becoming available. Games-based learning is becoming increasingly popular amongst teachers as it is a way of “tricking” the children into learning or a hook to gain the child’s interest in order to base a project around a particular game. I think this is a great idea as we all know children learn best when they are interested in a particular topic.

    What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?

    Networking is a great way to gain ideas and resources; Twitter (@GeekyNicki) is one of the easiest and most popular methods used by teachers as it is so flexible and easy to communicate with lots of people at once. It is a great place for gaining ideas for use in the classroom and also for sharing ideas and resources. It is very difficult to be innovative when you are working alone; it is much better to bounce ideas off other people. This is how ideas grow and is vital for moving education forward.

    What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?

    Game-based learning, as I mentioned earlier, is probably the most recent trend and it seems to have been quite successful, particularly in primary schools where children would tend to base all of their work around a particular topic. I have seen some great examples where children have used games such as Nintendogs, where they would play the game, looking after their pet, but also do creative writing, artwork and even learn about anatomy all based around the game. It is also possible for games-based learning to be taken to the other extreme where a teacher could pick games that are very loosely based around the subject they are teaching and leave the children to “play” for an extended period of time without necessarily checking on progress. Done correctly, games-based learning is an asset to education but it shouldn’t be used in the extreme.

    If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

    A piano (or maybe just any musical instrument)! This may sound a little strange but I have been learning to play the piano for the last year or so and learning has given me so many skills that are valuable and help me “learn to learn.” For example, to play an instrument you have to develop a lot of patience and perseverance as you are not going to be the world’s best pianist as soon as you begin. Understanding the values of perseverance would be a great asset to any child. Playing an instrument is also a great way to unwind at the end of the day and is very satisfying when you have learned a new piece. In teaching, the children who achieve best are the ones who are willing to persevere with a problem and show patience when things go wrong. There is nothing worse as a teacher than when you see a child give up at the first hurdle because a task is “too hard”! I believe that acquiring the core skills that come with learning an instrument will help any child become a better learner, and in turn they will be ready to take on any challenge, big or small.

    Join the Partners in Learning Network and experience global collaboration!

    Innovate in the classroom, help your students build the skills they need for the future—such as problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity—with Partners in Learning.

    You’ll meet other innovative teachers for collaboration opportunities, get access to free teacher resources, and learn about great ways to improve your personal teaching practice using technology.

    Embraced by the theme ‘Your Ideas Matter’ the Partners in Learning Network is a community for you, by you, and further amplifies the great work that is being done every day by teachers and schools around the world. With this idea in mind, we invite you to try out this global online resource and community designed to encourage collaboration and the spread of ideas for the betterment of education worldwide.

    The new Partners in Learning Network is the next generation of the global network serving educators and school leaders in over 115 countries. To facilitate a truly global community of innovative educators, the site is now available in 36 different languages, thanks to the use of Microsoft Translator Services.

    Sign in, create an account and start connecting with thousands of educators worldwide here.


    About Nicki Maddams

    Birthplace: Margate, Kent, England
    Current residence: Maidstone, Kent, England
    Education: BSc (hons)Computing
    Website I check every day: Probably Facebook and Twitter most days. I also check the
    Microsoft Teachers Blog regularly.
    Person who inspires me most: There is not one person who particularly stands out for
    me but if I were to choose it would probably be Bill Gates. Not only from a technical point-of-view but I am inspired by how much good he has done with his money in terms of his philanthropy.
    Favorite childhood memory: I don’t have one specific favorite memory but I have lots
    of fond memories of days out with my parents and grandparents, visiting tourist attractions around Kent, such as castles, zoos, museums, etc. One such highlight would be visiting Leeds Castle and having a picnic at which my grandfather toppled backwards in his chair leaving his legs in the air!
    Next travel destination (work or pleasure): My partner and I are thinking about
    travelling through Europe in the near future, possibly at the end of this summer holiday or possibly next year. We are hoping to stop off in Germany and possibly Austria then head down to Northern Italy before driving back through France. Of cause I will also be travelling to Prague in November for Microsoft’s Global Forum where I will be exhibiting my Virtual Classroom Tour, Kodu in the Klassroom.
    When was the last time you laughed? Why? I can’t pinpoint a particular moment as I laugh so frequently! It was probably yesterday evening. My partner Kevin makes me laugh on a regular basis as he is always doing something silly!
    Favorite book: I can’t really say I have one favorite as there are so many great books out there. I really enjoyed the Harry Potter series and recently the Hunger Games trilogy. Any of Dan Brown’s books are also very gripping.
    Favorite music: It would depend on my mood really. I like a broad range of music from classical to modern. I love almost anything from the eighties. The only music I don’t really like is grunge!
    Your favorite quote or motto:A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

  • FE blog

    University of Aberdeen Saves £20,000 with Desktop Management and Protection Solution


    The University of Aberdeen needed to replace its third-party antivirus software with a more cost-effective solution. It chose Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, which includes System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection, for managing device protection. The university not only saves £20,000—the antivirus software is included in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager—but the IT team has also gained efficient tools for the desktop environment.

    To learn more, view/download the full case study below:

  • FE blog

    A Different Outlook


    Guest post from Kristian Still, Assistant Vice Principal, Hamble Community Sports College.

    Microsoft’s announcement of an all new, fantastically fast (and IMHO attractive), cloud-based email service at Outlook.com that ties into SkyDrive (now you have 7GB of free storage space) and open attachments right inside the new Web apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. You can chat or message directly from within Outlook.com, connecting to Facebook messages (not that I am a FB fan), and other networks, (eg LinkedIn of which I am a fan) and will some time later this year integrate with Skype.

    It is not for me to tell you how to manage you email INBOX, but there are some handy tools for that too with Outlook.com. There are categories, the very useful ‘sweep’ feature and also instant actions for reading emails.

    Now for the real barrier to changing your email address. Keeping your old, memory filled account, and creating a new professional alias. Well Outlook.com can take care of that.

    Step one – Create an Outlook.com account or update or even rename your old account, instantly losing the nickname, underscore and mythical number.

    Step two - If you want to keep your memory field email, now take the opportunity to create an alias. In this case, a more professional alias. Basically it appears to create a ’new email account’ but its stored in the same INBOX. You might chose to do this if you are looking for a new position at a new school. Creating a bespoke email address for that all important application / conversation email chain. What is even better is that Outlook.com then creates a folder to collect the responses to that alias.

    Step three – add and verify additional email accounts to your Outlook.com. They do need to be POP-enabled, but Outlook.com checks that for you. Now, when you compose a new message, you get to choose to send it from any of the associated accounts. Your recipients may see: “From kristianstill@outlook.com on behalf of name@example.com” even though you sent it from Outlook.com. Replies are sent to the originating email address.

    Add Outlook.com and the SkyDrive App to your smart phone and I think you just about have all bases covered.

  • FE blog

    How Windows 8 Will Work for Your Business


    Originally posted by Erwin Visser on the Windows Blog.

    Today at TechEd North America, we’re talking more about how Windows 8 is enterprise-ready, by design. As I was getting ready for this conversation, I found myself reflecting on the hundreds of customers my team and I have met with over the past several months. We have talked to companies in just about every industry and every area of the world. They’ve told us their implementation plans, some already demoed early business apps, and gave us feedback on how these innovations built on Windows 8 will be valuable to their organizations.

    Since the last time you’ve heard from me on Windows 8 for the enterprise, I thought it would be important to share three customer stories on what enterprises are already doing with Windows 8 at TechEd and then here on the blog as well.

    One of my favorites is what PCL Construction, the sixth largest contractor in the United States, is doing to ensure its team of 3,700 full-time professional staff has the tools they need to get the job done right.

    PCL Construction recognized an opportunity with Windows To Go and how it could enable the work styles of its employees. Working with Windows 8 Release Preview versions of Windows To Go, PCL Construction employees can carry their entire managed corporate desktop and bring it along with them on a small bootable USB drive wherever they go – on the jobsite, from a field office, or from the comfort of their own home computer. They decided on an early implementation of Windows 8 to get feedback from users quickly and in an effort to remove any potential adoption barriers when Windows 8 rolls out to all employees.

    As Shane Crawford, manager of infrastructure with PCL Construction, shared with us, “Windows 8 affords PCL Construction many ways to meet the needs of our diverse and mobile workforce from secure access touch-enabled applications that help improve jobsite safety to meeting the needs of executives and field staff working from multiple PC’s with Windows To Go.”

    Another great example of an early customer case is a Windows 8 app developed by national furniture retailer Rooms To Go. This business app for tablets allows the company’s sales associates to offer a more intimate and immersive customer service experience without leaving the customers’ side.

    Russ Rosen, CIO of Rooms To Go, stated, “Windows 8 provides Rooms To Go the ability to develop a custom point of sale application that takes advantage of continuous connectivity, and provides a natural touch interface to allow for a cost-effective experience for our sales associates across 175 stores.”

    Finally, the Dutch Public Prosecution Service, through their partner Sparked, is planning to outfit their employees with custom line-of-business applications accessing a Microsoft SharePoint backend on Windows 8 tablet. These applications allow prosecution officers to remain effective and productive whether working in an office, courtroom or while mobile.

    “Due to the sensitive nature of the information presented to prosecution officers, it’s crucial that the data and devices be protected from viruses, malware, theft or compromise of data,” said Dr. Edwin C. Mac Gillavry, deputy director, Bureau for Criminal Law Studies, Dutch Public Prosecution Service. “The BitLocker solution with Windows 8 will protect our data, something that would be difficult to realize with other tablet platforms without extra costs.”

    A few more items I want to touch on: yesterday at TechEd, we announced that the next release for Windows Intune is available here. My colleague Eric Main has a more in-depth description on updates and new features of the PC management and security software from yesterday’s keynote at TechEd North America.

    While there are a lot of exciting new changes in this latest release, there are a couple that I would specifically like to call out. One is a new feature to better manage and secure your environment using mobile device management, which will be valuable to IT Pros who travel frequently, or have multiple locations to manage. Second, the latest release of Windows Intune includes upgrade rights to the latest version of Windows, which means businesses using Windows Intune will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Enterprise when it becomes available.

    Finally, my colleague Karri Alexion-Tiernan has an update on several Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) products, including: the availability of betas for Microsoft BitLOcker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM) and Microsoft Advanced Group Policy Management (AGPM), an upcoming beta for the newest addition to the MDOP family – User Experience Virtualization (UE-V), and a release candidate for the Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) 8.

    Have an exciting implementation plan for Windows 8 in your business or have thoughts on the Windows Intune and MDOP announcements? Share your story with us in the comments section and you may be reading about it in a future blog post.

    We look forward to traveling to Amsterdam later this month for TechEd Europe and you can look for more updates from my team here on the Windows for your Business site. In the meantime, we encourage you to download Windows 8 Release Preview and test it in the business environment, available at http://preview.windows.com.

  • FE blog

    Saving money with Office 365 for education


    eduGuest post from Gerald Haigh. Gerald writes regularly for the Microsoft education blogs.

    Office 365 for education is much more than a money saver. It has the potential to change and streamline communication and collaboration across the whole of an institution. It’s important to set that out at the start.

    However, short term cost saving is high on the agenda in schools and colleges, and the fact that Office 365 for education is free (for plan A2) to academic institutions, needs no on-site maintenance, and has the strong potential to make considerable efficiency savings is bound to attract attention.


    So, even though it’s early days with Office 365 for education, IT leaders have to look ahead, and I decided to look at some of the stories and case studies that are already coming from early adopters.

    Immediately, it became apparent that invariably it’s the availability of free cloud-based email that’s the initial attraction. For The Schools Network (formerly the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust) for example, Office 365 for education solved the problem of how to replace an ageing email system in a climate of much-reduced funding. The removal of upfront server and licensing costs saved over £34,000.

    But that’s only part of the story.

    "We would have had to invest thousands to have ensured the level of uptime and support that Office 365 for education provides as a standard service," says Head of Information Services Julian Elve. "There was never a question of us matching that level of support ourselves. There was simply no budget to do that." http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Case_Study_Detail.aspx?CaseStudyID=710000000494

    It was a similar story at the 1,900 student East Norfolk Sixth Form College where IT Services Manager Eric Stone took the opportunity, with help from Microsoft, to be an early adopter of Office 365 for education last Autumn. They, too, faced the need to increase storage capacity for their on-site email system.

    “One of the main drivers for changing to a cloud based product was the saving on storage and backup,” says Eric. “We believe we saved in excess of £5000 in capital expenditure for additional storage, whilst providing the students with an improved user experience, simply by moving the email accounts over to Office 365 for education.”

    There’s a pattern emerging here which shows that Office 365 for education isn’t just a marginal cost-saver, a tweaker of the balance sheet, but is actually opening up new pages in the account books by helping institutions to make improvements that they otherwise simply couldn’t afford.

    Take the story of the 5,500 student Kilmarnock College, for example. There, the ICT Service team had looked at upgrading the Exchange Server that was providing staff email and found they’d have to find £15,000 for hardware, £10,000 in deployment costs in the first year, and then an annual maintenance cost of at least £2,000 per year. None of this was at all feasible, so moving to Office 365 for education both eliminated those costs and vastly improved the level of service. http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Case_Study_Detail.aspx?CaseStudyID=710000000987

    But each of these innovators know that taking on Office 365 for education in order to reap the efficiencies and cost benefits of email is just a first step. All the other Office 365 for education applications are there to be used. At Kilmarnock College, for instance, there are plans to use SharePoint Online, included in Office 365 for education to complement and enhance their existing online content management system. IT Service leader Brad Johnston doubts whether, with their existing staffing levels, they could have deployed on-site SharePoint in the same way. And Brad’s also working on introducing users to Lync Online,

    “We’re now telling our users that the emphasis on phones is no longer there because you have this whole communication tool built into Office 365,” says Brad. “It’s a million miles away from where we would be without it.”

    Eric Stone, at East Norfolk Sixth Form College is adopting ‘one step at a time’ strategy, so although the whole of Office 365 for education will be available, from September, administrators in the College will stay with the familiar Office 2010 suite for now. As Eric says, there’s nothing to be lost by waiting,

    “And students will certainly use Office 365, saving themselves some licensing costs.”

    So is there a catch? Apparently not. Reliability of service, for example, is typically better than with an on-site system. Eric Stone says,

    “I believe we’ve exceeded Microsoft’s best estimate. In the whole year we lost connection for just five minutes on one afternoon.”

    More of these stories will emerge, and as they do it will become increasingly clear that the most significant cost savings of all will come from increased efficiency – better communication and collaboration, more effective deployment of technical staff, instant and effortless availability of the most up to date software. In this regard it’s well worth taking a look at a significant report on cost saving with Office 365 for education prepared for Microsoft in June 2011 by Forrester Consulting, looking at Total Economic Impact (TEI) of Office 365 on small and medium sized businesses. It reports dramatic savings, with a return on investment (ROI) of 321%, and while the many areas of potential saving that it lists aren’t all applicable to schools, many of them certainly are.

  • FE blog

    Reforms for the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers opens new opportunities for FE


    The National Apprenticeship Service have received confirmation that Ministers and HM Treasury have formally agreed the following package of reforms for the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers:

    1. Pay the employers the full amount of £1500 13 weeks after the apprentice starts, instead of two instalments of £750 at weeks 8 and 52
    2. Extend the scheme to mid-sized businesses with up to 1000 employees, with the proviso that at least 50% of the grants (20,000 of the 40,000 grants available) should still be targeted at SMEs (companies employing no more than 250 employees)
    3. Increase the number of grants a single employer can claim to 10, up from the current limit of three
    4. Relax the rule informally known as the "3 year rule" so that an employer will be eligible for AGE if they have not employed an apprentice in the last 12 months.

    The Treasury have agreed that to revisit the 3 year rule in the autumn, when NAS review the whole scheme with them.

    Most commentators think these announcements represent a positive change for the apprenticeship incentive which was running into a few blockages over conditions, so the relaxation of the rules could be a help for getting schemes up and running.  In particular, the changes will open up the opportunity to medium size employers where there is existing demand for apprenticeships schemes.

    There are three groups of employers that need to be considered and NAS will be moving on getting the message out to them but equally providers may want to take the opportunity to return to employers who have been previously rejected for the grant who now fit the criteria:

    1. Employers who have previously applied and been accepted for AGE under the old "split payment" rule
    2. Employers who have previously applied and been turned down for AGE, but would now be eligible under the new rules. This group should be proactively contacted and offered the grant
    3. Employers who did not previously apply for AGE but  will be eligible under the new rules. This group should be dealt with on a case by case basis, if they get in touch to request the grant retrospectively
  • FE blog

    Learn all about Windows 8 at one of our Camps during summer


    Originally posted on the UK Faculty Connection Blog.

    Want to get up to speed on Windows 8 during the summer holidays? Here is a list of camps for you to attend. There are limited numbers at each event so if you want free training, app support and to get ahead of the curve with Windows 8 then you should sign up now!

    What to expect:

    The Windows 8 Camps have been designed to show you how to build a Windows 8 app. You can tailor the day to make it as personally productive and rewarding as possible. You can work on your own projects with assistance from Windows 8 experts, network with others and also have the option of attending short tutorial sessions on Windows 8 related topics.

    The Windows 8 Camps will cover an introductory overview session as well as a range of short tutorial sessions. Short tutorial sessions will include topics such as the basics of the OS and interaction with the OS, Metro style UX with examples in Store apps, The Store and the developer opportunity, the high level view of the platform - i.e. WinRT and the choice around implementation technology, and the tooling - the role of Visual Studio and Expression Blend. In addition, you will learn how you can publish your Windows 8 app into the Windows Store in advance of general release through the Windows 8 App Excellence Labs at this camp.

    The Windows 8 Camp will kick off at 9am and officially finish at 6pm, or 9pm for the hardcore attendees

    Before you arrive, please ensure you have downloaded:

    1) Windows 8 Release Preview installed and running on your machine
    2) Visual Studio 2012 Express RC installed

    Lastly, please let us know as soon as you can if you cannot make the camp as there will be many developers who are keen to take your spot. Please let us know (via written email) at least 2 days in advance if you are unable to attend the camp or a £20 administration fee will be charged. Please respect the trainers and your fellow delegates by turning up if you have registered and committed.

    Thank you and we look forward to seeing you at the Windows 8 Camp. Click here to register for an event near you!

    Don't forget we have lots of Windows 8 curricula resources available and additional resources see

    Curricula resources via Faculty Connection http://www.microsoft.com/faculty

    Windows 8 Camp in Box

    Creating your first Windows 8 Metro Style Design Game

    XNA Developers and Windows8

    Get up to speed on Windows 8 in 6 weeks

  • FE blog

    Can a smart phone improve my son’s grades?


    Originally posted on the OneNote Blog.

    (Guest blogger Christina Tynan-Wood writes the Family Tech column for Family Circle magazine, and is the author of "How to Be a Geek Goddess." She has been covering technology for decades and blogs at GeekGirlfriends.com and Family Circle's Momster.)

    Can a Smart Phone Improve my Son’s Grades?

    My son Cole (16) -- like many men I know -- is very good at appearing to listen when he isn't paying any attention at all. Whenever a conversation takes the form of a lecture, his attention drifts. His imagination kicks in. He finds something to do with his hands. Sometimes he even absently gets up and leaves the room. When he was younger, he got into quite a bit of trouble in school for this inattention. So over the years, he has learned to strike a pose of rapt attention before allowing his mind to wander. I'm sure this nonverbal tendency has contributed to a few of his more shocking report cards. Thankfully though, in this digital age, his high-school teachers tend to take a liberal attitude toward the use of technology. As long he is quietly using his tech as a study aide (not to cheat, text, or watch TV), his teachers quietly turn a blind eye.

    So, to bolster my hope of someday celebrating college acceptance letters with him, I decided to teach him how to use Microsoft OneNote - in conjunction with his Windows Phone -- to improve his note taking skills.

    I'm a journalist. Years ago I ditched notebooks and rely instead on OneNote keep track of research. It looks like a digital three-ring binder. But the more you use it, the more you realize how limited a three-ring binder is. I recently added a Nokia Lumia 900. ($49.99 with a contract at AT&T) Windows Phone to my work arsenal. And the combo allowed me to ditch the backpack, handheld recorder, and camera I once sported for note taking. When I jot a note, snap a photo, or record a conversation using OneNote on my Windows Phone, those notes are instantly synced (via Sky Drive) with OneNote on my Windows PC. So when I get back to my office, all my notes are waiting for me. No carrying. No filing. No organizing. It's all done.

    Being a journalist is a lot like being a perpetual student, I figured. So -- hoping these tricks will help my son, too -- I grabbed a laptop, cornered him, and said, "We need to come up with a plan to help you do better in school."

    He had a terrible year last year so he knew he wasn't getting out of this conversation. He sighed, sat down, and pretended to pay attention.

    "Do you take notes in class?" I asked.

    He said he did.

    "Can you show me some of them?"

    He looked panicked and started tossing out excuses. Some of them contradicted each other. It was funny.

    "So you don't really take notes?"

    "I mean to," he admitted. "I bring a notebook. I get it out. It's just so boring."

    I've known this boy a long time. So I know that listening to someone talk for ninety minutes is harder for him than jumping off an Olympic high board would be for me. (I don't like heights.) He's also nocturnal. So a long, early morning math class -- even though he likes math -- is an endurance sport, one where he is not the favorite to win. This all gets worse as the year goes on because if he daydreams through one lecture, the next one makes even less sense. With every class, he becomes more completely lost.

    I opened OneNote and showed him that it looked like his notebook but was better.

    Then I showed him how simple it was to create notebooks that are stored online at SkyDrive.com so he can access them from anywhere. He already has a Microsoft Account so we logged in from OneNote and created a new class notebook that would be stored in the cloud.

    Then I showed him around the note-taking features of OneNote on his PC. It allows him to capture Web research (and remembers where he got it.) It lets him record video. He could drop scans of homework assignments in here and toss the originals. He could jot ideas. He could create to-do lists. And all of it is searchable.

    It would even let him enter mathematical formulas.

    This was all very cool, he agreed.

    "But I'm not bringing my laptop to class," he told me. "Only dorks do that."

    I knew that. But he, too, has a Windows Phone. The selling point for him was its seamless integration with Xbox not its seamless integration with Office and SkyDrive. But he's hooked on it. So my evil plan was already working. In fact, he had it in his hand while we were talking. I pointed out Office Mobile (which, in addition to OneNote, features Word, Excel and PowerPoint) and told him to tap it. His phone was already logged into Windows Live - that's how he keeps up with his gaming peeps -- so when he opened Office on his phone, the new school notebook we'd just created was already there waiting for him.

    I showed him how to create a new note in that notebook, right from his phone.

    "So, when you can't pay attention anymore in class," I told him. "Start a new note and tap that little microphone icon to record the lecture. That way you can listen to it later - and use fast forward and rewind - so you know what material was covered." His idea of studying is to go watch Sal Khan explain things in a way he can relate to at The Khan Academy. That usually brings him right up to speed. But he needs to know what the teacher covered in class to do it.

    He was impressed. "This would be handy for when you start these random lectures and force me to listen to you," he told me, smiling and tapping the microphone icon to record our conversation.

    Within seconds, the recording showed up on the computer screen. And now I had his attention.

    I pointed out that the camera icon would be handy for taking photos of the homework assignments on the blackboard - since he never seems to remember to write those down, which leads to missed homework assignments, and - eventually -- terrible grades.

    I had him now. I know he wants to be a better student. But, in addition to his attention problems, he's also a hip guy with a social life. And sitting in class, hanging on the teacher's every word and copying things off the board are not - in his mind - the way to win a pretty girl's heart. (No matter how many times I tell him girls like smart guys.) But this sort of note-taking? He could do without anyone noticing. In fact, it would give him a chance to show off his tech savvy. And, if he does miss something in class and finds himself having trouble with a tough homework assignment, he can switch on his Microsoft webcam and Skype his friends-or that cute girl from math class-to figure it out.

    Whether all this technical firepower will improve his grades still remains to be seen. But I'm certain it would have helped me get better grades back when I was a student.

    You can find OneNote -- and the other Office applications I think are great for students - in Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010. Even better it's on sale until September 14! When you buy Office Home and Student 2010, Office for Mac Home and Student 2011 (3 pack), Office University 2010 or Office for Mac University 2011 you get 15% off.

    For more ways to replace old-school tools with tech, check out the September issue of Family Circle Magazine for my feature, "Tech that's Anything But Old School." Or come visit my "Family Tech Christina" blog at FamilyCircle.com/tech.

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