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

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Announcing Windows Phone 8


    By Joe Belfiore

    Three years ago I was lucky to join the Windows Phone team at a time when we were “resetting” our approach to mobile operating system software. We made big changes to our design, our approach to partners, and our platform. The result was Windows Phone 7.

    Now it’s time to start telling you about the next exciting chapter of our story: Windows Phone 8. Officially announced this morning in San Francisco, it’s the most advanced mobile OS Microsoft has ever made and will arrive on new phones later this year.

    Many of Windows Phone 8’s new capabilities come from a surprising source: Windows, the most successful and powerful operating system on the planet, and one used by more than a billion people. Yes, you read that right: Windows Phone 8 is based on the same core technologies that power Windows 8. As a result, Windows Phone 8 will unleash a new wave of features for consumers, developers, and businesses.

    Today I’ll give you a high-level sneak peek at the Windows Phone 8 platform and tell you just some of what it’s going to make possible. I’ll also share some exciting news about apps and updates for current Windows Phone customers. This isn’t a full disclosure of everything in Windows Phone 8—look for a more complete tour of new features later.

    The power of Windows

    If you’ve seen Windows 8, Microsoft’s groundbreaking new release for PCs and tablets, you’ve probably noticed it bears more than a passing resemblance to the look of Windows Phone. Here’s how the Windows 8 Start screen looks in the latest preview release.

    The Windows 8 Start screen, as it appears in the preview release.

    With Windows Phone 8, the similarity is more than skin deep. We’ve based the next release of Windows Phone on the rock-solid technology core of Windows 8. It means Windows Phone and its bigger sibling will share common networking, security, media and web browser technology, and a common file system. That translates into better performance, more features, and new opportunities for app developers and hardware makers to innovate faster.

    This new shared core—along with all the extra work we’ve done on top of it—opens up a new world of capabilities, which you don’t have to be a techie to appreciate. Here’s a taste:

    • Multi-core processor support: As reviewers have noted, Windows Phone runs buttery smooth on phones with a single processor. But piggybacking on the Windows core provides support for multiple cores—so we’re ready for whatever hardware makers dream up.
    • Bigger, sharper screens: Windows Phone 8 supports two new screen resolutions—1280x768 and 1280x720, opening the door to amazing new handsets with high-definition 720p displays.
    • More flexible storage: Windows Phone 8 supports removable MicroSD cards, so you can stuff your phone with extra photos, music, and whatever else is important to you, and then easily move it all onto your PC.
    • NFC wireless sharing: If you haven’t heard the term “NFC” yet, I’m betting you soon will. This emerging wireless technology lets phones share things over short distances. In Windows Phone 8, it helps make sharing photos, Office docs, and contact info easier—just tap your phone another NFC-equipped device. How cool is that?
    • Internet Explorer 10: The next version of Windows Phone comes with the same web browsing engine that’s headed for Window 8 PCs and tablets. IE10 is faster and more secure, with advanced anti-phishing features like SmartScreen Filter to block dangerous websites and malware.
    • Wallet: Windows Phone 8’s new digital Wallet feature does two great things. It can keep debit and credit cards, coupons, boarding passes, and other important info right at your fingertips. And when paired with a secure SIM from your carrier, you can also pay for things with a tap of your phone at compatible checkout counters.
    • Better maps and directions: Windows Phone 8 builds in Nokia mapping as part of the platform. Our partnership will provide more detailed maps and turn-by-turn directions in many countries, plus the ability to store maps offline on your phone so you can work with maps without a data connection.
    • Cooler apps and games: Basing Windows Phone 8 on the Windows core will unleash a new wave of amazing apps and especially games, for reasons I’ll touch on in a moment.
    A new Start

    We’re putting the finishing touches on Windows Phone 8 as I write this. It has a ton of great new consumer features that I can’t wait to tell you about in the months ahead. Today, however, I’m going to show off just one: the beautiful, flexible new Start screen.

    The new Start sceen in Windows Phone 8 is even more flexible, with more theme colors and three sizes of Live TilesThe new Start sceen in Windows Phone 8 is even more flexible, with more theme colors and three sizes of Live Tiles.The new Start sceen in Windows Phone 8 is even more flexible, with more theme colors and three sizes of Live Tiles.The new Start sceen in Windows Phone 8 is even more flexible, with more theme colors and three sizes of Live Tiles.

    The new Start sceen in Windows Phone 8 is even more flexible, with more theme colors and three sizes of Live Tiles.The new Start sceen in Windows Phone 8 is even more flexible, with more theme colors and three sizes of Live Tiles.The new Start sceen in Windows Phone 8 is even more flexible, with more theme colors and three sizes of Live Tiles.The new Start sceen in Windows Phone 8 is even more flexible, with more theme colors and three sizes of Live Tiles.

    As you can see, we’re making Windows Phone 8 even more personal, with a new palette of theme colors and three sizes of Live Tiles, all of which are under your control. We know Live Tiles are one of the things current owners really love about their Windows Phones, and we wanted to make them even more flexible and unique. This short video shows the new Start screen in action.

    Windows Phone…7.8!

    The new Start screen is so useful and emblematic of what Windows Phone is about that we want everybody to enjoy it. So we’ll be delivering it to existing phones as a software update sometime after Window Phone 8 is released. Let me repeat: If you currently own a Windows Phone 7.5 handset, Microsoft is planning to release an update with the new Windows Phone 8 Start screen. We’re calling it “Windows Phone 7.8.”

    Some of you have been wondering, “Will we also get Windows Phone 8 as an update?” The answer, unfortunately, is no.

    Windows Phone 8 is a generation shift in technology, which means that it will not run on existing hardware. BUT we care deeply about our existing customers and want to keep their phones fresh, so we’re providing the new Start screen in this new update.

    100,000 apps and beyond

    Today we announced that the Windows Phone Marketplace officially hit 100,000 apps and games—a milestone we reached faster than Android, and a testament to the thousands of talented developers around the world who’ve supported us since launch. Together they deliver more than 200 new titles, on average, each day.

    On behalf of everybody at Windows Phone, THANK YOU! We appreciate your effort and creativity and the value you bring to Windows Phone users.

    To mark the milestone, today we’re announcing a new batch of marquee titles. The official Audible app for audiobooks arrives in Marketplace today. Official apps from Chase and PayPal are in the works. Gameloft has Windows Phone versions of Asphalt 7: Heat and N.O.V.A. 3 Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance on the way.

    And Nokia is helping deliver the much-requested Zynga games Words with Friends and Draw Something to Windows Phone later this year. Check out Nokia Conversations today for more details about this and other new Windows Phone-related announcements today. (And don’t miss the fun new “100,000 Apps and Counting” mugs and other goodies in the official Windows Phone Gear Store!)

    Developers, developers, developers

    Since we’re talking about apps, I want to tell developers a little bit about what they can expect in Windows Phone 8. Some of the exciting changes on the way include:

    • Native code support: Windows Phone 8 has full C and C++ support, making it easier to write apps for multiple platforms more quickly. It also means Windows Phone 8 supports popular gaming middleware such as Havok Vision Engine, Autodesk Scaleform, Audiokinetic Wwise, and Firelight FMOD, as well as native DirectX-based game development.
    • In-app purchase: In Windows Phone 8 we make it possible for app makers to sell virtual and digital goods within their apps.
    • Integrated Internet calling: In Windows Phone 8, developers can create VoIP apps that plug into our existing calling feature so Internet calls can be answered like traditional phone calls, using the same calling interface.
    • Multitasking enhancements. Windows Phone 8 now allows location-based apps like exercise trackers or navigation aids to run in the background, so they keep working even when you’re doing other things on your phone.

    This is just a taste. Later this summer, we’ll have much more for developers on the Windows Phone 8 Software Development Kit (SDK) and the new Visual Studio 11-based development tools. So stay tuned.

    Windows Phone 8 @ work

    In Windows Phone 8, we’re also moving into the workplace in a big way, introducing a number of features and capabilities that companies and their IT departments demand. This is just one more benefit of sharing a common core with Windows 8. Some of the new business-friendly features include:

    • Device encryption: To help keep everything from documents to passwords safe, Windows Phone 8 includes built-in technology to encrypt the entire device, including the operating system and data files.
    • Better security: Windows Phone 8 supports the United Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) secure boot protocol and features improved app “sandboxing,” so the phone is better protected from malware with multiple layers of security.
    • Remote management: With Windows Phone 8, IT departments can manage apps and phones remotely, with tools similar to ones they now employ for Windows PCs.
    • Company Hub and apps: Companies can create their own Windows Phone 8 Hub for custom employee apps and other critical business info.

    An example of how a new company Hub might look in Windows Phone 8.

    New languages, update process

    I get a lot of tweets asking, “When will my phone get Arabic? Farsi? Turkish?” They’re also the top feature requests on the Windows Phone Suggestion Box site.

    I’m happy to tell you these languages are coming! In fact, Windows Phone 8 will support a total of 50 languages, or double the current geographic coverage. We’re also expanding Marketplace, our store for apps and games, to support app downloads in over 180 countries—nearly triple its current footprint.

    Another area I know many of you care deeply about is Windows Phone software updates and how they’re delivered—something we’ve gotten a lot of feedback on over the last year. Today I’m excited to tell you that we’ve been working closely with our many partners to improve the update process for Windows Phone 8, and help get you our latest software more quickly and easily.

    How? First, Windows Phone 8 updates will be delivered wirelessly over-the-air, so you don’t have to bother plugging your phone into your PC to update anymore. Second, we will support devices with updates for at least 18 months from device launch.

    Finally, we’re working to create a program that gives registered enthusiasts early access to updates prior to broad availability—a little gift to our biggest fans and supporters. We think these three initiatives will help keep your phone fresher than ever before.

    What’s next

    I know that’s a lot to digest—and look forward to. And I didn’t even mention actual phones yet!

    We’re really excited about the strong line-up of hardware partners who are putting their support behind Windows Phone 8. The first wave of devices for Windows Phone 8 will come from Nokia, Huawei, Samsung, and HTC, all built on next-generation chips from Qualcomm.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    How best to use technology in schools - from UK school Principal and founder of The Skills Lab


    Without substantial institutional rethinking more students will question what schooling is for.” – UK

    Chris Gerry, Owner and founder of The Skills Lab - UK

    To Chris Gerry, innovation isn’t about making small changes – it’s about complete systemic alterations that rebuild and redefine learning. In fact, during Gerry’s 18 years as high school principal – notably as Executive Principal of the Future Schools Trust, which encompasses Cornwallis Academy and New Line Learning Academy – he completely rebuilt three schools. “I have been interested in how the teacher work model can be re-formulated to enable teachers to work in teams rather than in social isolation,” says Gerry. “Isolated individuals tend to see their social skills decline over time as they lack feedback. I have developed larger spaces where pupils have technology to assist them and teachers work in teams.”

    With this model in mind, Gerry led the building of a sophisticated metrics model that measures risk factors for children who are not being successful, and attempts measured interventions to ensure that they are. Additionally, he has focused on measuring student social skills – self-management, work ethic, the ability to work in groups – and correlate deficiencies in these spheres with academic performance. Taking these and other measures together, Gerry and his team built a “Business Intelligence” system that uses numbers to assess school performance in a variety of domains on a day-to-day basis. “Insights gained from these approaches have enabled the schools to make significant progress as measured by more conventional exam performance,” says Gerry.

    Today, Gerry heads up The Skills Lab, which “brings ideas and people together to test new initiatives in education.
    The aim is to create smart, simple and practical tools that facilitate cultural change in education to allow young people to develop the skills they need to access wider life opportunities.”

    Here, Gerry shares his thoughts on the best way to reform schools in times of financial austerity, how to best use technology in schools, and what “innovation” really means to him.

    What has changed as a result of your efforts?

    The shape and feel of education within these schools is different but the whole system is designed to usher in more online learning for students as we shift the role of the teacher from ‘sage on the stage’ to ‘guide on the side.’ Larger flexible spaces enable that shift to take place.

    Additionally, schools with this design are cheaper to build (by about 24%) and – potentially – cheaper to operate.

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

    Innovation in school has traditionally been weak because few people think of changing all the variables in the process. Looking at space, technology, metrics, management, experience and outcomes as a total system enables more effective modernization of the whole rather than individual pieces. The issue in many school systems around the world is that there is a poor grasp of cost and local schools have limited autonomy to act. The educational bureaucracies that support schools can be very slow-moving. The UK is fortunate in having a very minimalist bureaucracy beyond the school itself. The country has also supported schools by giving them their own budgets and enabling the schools to hire and fire at their own discretion. This has produced quite agile institutions.

    Change does involve risk and one reason we see so few significant innovative approaches is that – in the words of John Maynard Keynes – ‘Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputations to fail conventionally than succeed unconventionally.’

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

    Yes, hugely. All our schools have had 1:1 computer access for some years. Recently that has shifted to mobile devices within an all-wireless environment. We have also invested heavily in screen and projection technologies.

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

    The current government has shifted focus away from skill acquisition towards more traditional knowledge acquisition. I believe this is a mistake as employers do not complain about historical knowledge, but they do complain about a lack of basic skills, self-anagement skills and work ethic. With an economy where more than ninety percent of workers are employed in the service sector, we are surely missing something by not focusing on these areas.

    What is your country doing well currently to support education?

    Funding remains positive despite recent cutbacks. Increasing the autonomy of
    individual schools via the Academies program has also been positive. An insistence on academic rigor is no bad thing either – except note my comments above.

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

    We have to start teaching and measuring skills.

    What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?

    Systematic remodeling of the education system through the deployment of new ways of thinking combined with a shrewd understanding of costs. We have to do more with less and be more effective. In austere times, societies tend to become more conservative in their thinking when in fact these are the times to embrace substantial and significant reforms. In the US it is notable that looming state bankruptcies have forced some rethinking with the consequence that 3 million US students are today receiving some of their learning online. This ‘disruptive innovation’ – to use Clayton Christensen’s term – needs to be seized upon and thought through. Additionally we have to think how a 19th century model can be brought into the 21st. That means changes to curriculum, assessment, where and when students learn, how they learn and links with the world of employment.

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

    If you are interested in change, then get to a position where you can influence it.

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

    Online developments are helping. I think that without substantial institutional rethinking more students will question what schooling is for. This works disproportionally against more deprived groups who have to face daily the privations of poverty. We have to find better ways to support such groups.

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

    I would give them a device to connect to the Internet, plus some sites to visit as they can learn a lot from the online world.

    About Chris Gerry

    Owner and founder of The Skills Lab. Gerry was formerly the Executive Principal at Future Schools Trust Schools in Maidstone Kent UK from 2005 until 2011. He built two new schools based around the concept of “plaza learning”: larger spaces with a great deal of technology (1:1 laptops) and a reorganization of the teaching model.

    Birthplace: Cornwall, UK
    Current residence: Tunbridge Wells Kent, UK
    Education: 1972: BA(Hons) American History, University of Sussex; Brighton UK
    1974: Wien Scholar, Brandeis University, Waltham MA, USA
    1976: MA, History, Brown University Providence RI, USA
    1982: PhD American History, University of Sussex
    1982: PGCE (teaching qualification) University of Sussex
    Website I check every day:
    Person who inspires me most: Franklin Roosevelt
    Favorite childhood memory: I don’t really have one!
    Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Shanghai in July for work
    When was the last time you laughed? Why? All the time. Brits are known for their sense of humor and enjoyment of the absurd.
    Favorite book: Good-bye to All That by Robert Graves
    Favorite music: Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue
    Your favorite quote or motto: ‘Things that can’t go on forever, don’t.’ – Herb Stein, economic adviser to Richard Nixon

    Originally posted on daily edventures

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Kodu at Cadoxton Primary School


    Last week I had the pleasure of working with the Digital Leaders at Cadoxton Primary School in Barry, South Wales. We looked at and explored Kodu . They all had a copy to take home, to begin to investigate for themselves. Our options in school were limited at the present time, as the school is developing an innovative PC network. This is based on Windows Multipoint Server and powered by Solar Energy, which sounds amazing and will be a fantastic and innovative resource when the installation is completed.


    So we discussed Kodu, I did some demos and we thought about what skills they might employ to develop computer games.

    Here are two initial reactions from Rhys and Tegan, two of this great and talented group of pupils.

    Last Wednesday I worked with Microsoft using a programme called KODU . KODU is a programme were you create your own video games .I enjoyed using KODU because it was like I was a professional programmer. When we learnt how to work it we created our own game. I liked it when we found out how to score points because I want to challenge anyone who might play my games. Now we have KODU on our memory sticks we can access it at home it is amazing.boom


    I attended a Kodu workshop with Microsoft, I enjoyed Kodu because it was an easy, interesting and engaging way for me to create games it used lots of colours and the design was cool. The character (Kodu) was adorable. It was amazing making him turn pink! I liked the fact that you had to use lots of computer keys in the game. It filter.fishwas interesting to program the Kodu, their simple sentences used some confusing language! I loved the fact that we could use it at home as well as school. It had a wide variety of characters suitable for boys and girls. Overall I was ecstatic that I could make create and design my own using the Kodu software.

    Thanks to all the Digital Leaders at Cadoxton Primary School , I look forward to hearing a lot more from you in the future.

    By Stuart Ball

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Immerse your students in a subject with Bing


    It’s amazing what you can find on a Bing map. Discover interactive, 3-D Photosynth® technology and encourage students toexplore historic or curious places as if they’re standing right there.


    1) Take a virtual field trip

    Other online maps show you the roof of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. With a Photosynth found on Bing maps, you can explore the galleries inside.

    2) Go on safari

    Visit Africa on Bing Maps. Head to Tanzania and set your students loose on the Serengeti plains with wild 3-D synths of giraffes, zebras, and much more.

    3) Take a trip in a time machine

    Bring ancient Greece and the Parthenon to your classroom. Get close enough to see the lichen on the rocks of Stonehenge. Share an archaeological dig in Egypt. Or see the battlefield at Gettysburg as it looks today.

    4) Study architecture

    Photosynth lets you compare the colourful domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow to the majestic Taj Majal in India to Toronto’s modern SkyDome.

    5) Make any subject more engaging

    Imagine lots of crisp digital photos stitched seamlessly together to create eye-popping experiences you control. The Photosynth world offers ways to engage your students no matter the subject — biology, history, geography, or art. It’s a world of possibilities found on Bing Maps.

    For more information, including a step-by-step instruction guide and related videos, go to:

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Benenden School saves 40% on cost of new PBX with Lync 2010


    Leading girls school Benenden School needed to replace its private branch exchange (PBX) telephony system. Having considered offers from four different PBX vendors, the school chose Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Standard Edition for telephony and unified communications. The Microsoft solution cost 40 per cent less than any of the competing offerings. Plus, it was scalable and easily accommodated new accounts for staff and students.

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

  • 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

    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

    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

    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

    Webinar: Intro to OneNote


    Originally posted on One Note blog

    This 15 minute webinar shows you how to get started with OneNote - and why. You can learn what OneNote is or upgrade your skills with a few tricks I've learned along the way.

    What you will learn:
    1. It's your digital notebook
    2. Why scrapbook digitally?
    3. What you can put in OneNote
    4. How your notebook is everywhere
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