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June, 2012 - Microsoft UK Schools blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The UK Schools Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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June, 2012

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    10 things you didn’t know your Nokia Lumia could do


    Originally posted on Windows Phone Blog

    There’s a new poll out hinting that many people flocking to Windows Phone and handsets like the new Nokia Lumia 900 are former Apple and Android owners.

    If you are a proud new Lumia owner—or just new to Windows Phone period—then you’ll probably want to check out the fun and handy story Nokia ran on its official blog today: 10 things you never knew your Lumia could do. It covers everything from saving battery power to finding a good nearby pub (always high on my list of priorities).

    And if you did recently just pick up your first Windows Phone, I also highly recommend checking out our Tips +Tricks site—plus this giant list of tips. Guaranteed you’ll find something that makes you go wow.

    Nokia Lumia 900

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Contextual hubs for learning–gaming in education


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

    What are contextual hubs?

    I like science fiction but I have to admit never really been into Star Trek. However, I do once remember watching a television program on the history of the original Star Trek series. I found it really interesting because the program inferred that although it was a Star Trek series about space travel its equal purpose was to help its viewers understand moral issues. For example, I found it fascinating that the first ever-televised inter-racial kiss took place on an original episode of Star Trek.

    You’re probably wondering what my point is here. But I think that this basic idea of the ‘Star Trek Principle,’ which I often refer to when working with teachers is an important one. Basically, you are watching / doing one thing but learning about something else.

    Computer games can be used in the classroom with similar principles. The learning does not come from the game itself but the game becomes a context for what the learning will be about. The gaming environment becomes a stimulating contextual hub.

    Contextual hubs are sometimes described as types of thematic learning tasks. While this is true in part, contextual hub learning activities normally involve recurring game play throughout the unit of work and the learners often adopt roles as the characters of the game to create a more immersive and contextual experience.

    The important thing is that the game provides the engagement and the ‘hook for learning’ but the teacher provides the direction, the coaching and the structure where required. In a similar way that the original series of Star Trek ‘hooked’ many with the romance of space travel but the actual learning was provided by the scriptwriter and producer.

    Professor James Paul Gee’s explanation on Learning in Semiotic Domains9 provides a more academically robust description as to why this type of learning is so powerful.

    Kinect™ Adventures!

    Kinect Adventures is a good example of a game for Kinect for Xbox 360® that can be used as a contextual hub. The key here is thinking about what the game is about, rather than what the game does. The game is about adventure, exploration, teamwork and discovery.

    Your class project / unit of work will therefore be about adventure, exploration, teamwork and discovery. Remember, when using games in this context, the game is the ‘hook’ and provides the stimulus for the learning. How could you link your standardised curriculum to these four words?

    The diagram below shows some of the possible ways that Kinect Adventures(adventure, exploration, teamwork and discovery) could be linked to some curriculum activities.


    The secret of contextual hub projects is that there should be no specific pathway through the learning activities. Although, obviously, some activities and tasks will be progressive.

    Teachers in collaboration with their students can decide on the content of the scheme of work by picking from lists of possible activities and adding their own ideas to create a rich learning experience that is unique and appropriate for their individual needs, class and school.

    You can view and download the full eBook below.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    How students can develop an advertising campaign using Kinect Sports


    When you play Kinect Sports, if you look carefully you will see that parts of the game have been used for advertising - just like in real life. For example, you can see adverts around the football stadium and also on the volleyball posts in Beach Volleyball.



    In this activity, we are going to challenge learners to develop their own campaign to sell ‘virtual advertising’ on Kinect Sports.

    In teams, learners should be asked to:

    - Research possible game advertising spaces for one or more of the Kinect Sports games

    - Carry out market research into the number of regular players of the game alongside its global reach

    - Decide on some possible brands and companies to try and sell advertising to.

    - Develop a pitch for potential advertisers and give this pitch to groups of peers to discuss and evaluate.

    Learners need to be very familiar with all of the games within Kinect Sports. This should include playing the game and watching other people play the game to identify possible advertising space and opportunities.


  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Virtualisation in your school: Installation


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

    Following on from our recent post in this series - deciding on your hardware for virtualisation, we’ll move on to installation. So you have run your trial, planned your virtualisation setup and decided on the specifications for your hardware, all you need to do now is install the system. That sounds simple and to a certain extent it is.

    The basic steps include:

    • Connecting your hosts to your network
    • Setting up your storage LUN’s
    • Connecting your hosts to your storage solution
    • Installing Windows® Server 2008 R2 to your hosts
    • Enabling the Hyper-V role
    • Enabling the failover clustering role
    • Installing your virtual servers

    While these are the basics steps to installing a virtualised infrastructure there are, as you have probably guessed, a number of factors you have to consider.

    Network connection

    As we discussed earlier in the eBook your network connectivity can play a large part in your end user experience, you also have to consider the management of the host and connection to your storage solution. In an ideal world your host server would have separate connections for each of the networks it has to service. The simple diagram below shows a host server with a series of network connections.



    In this scenario the server would require 4 network interfaces; however this only gives the virtual servers on the host a single connection to the domain LAN. A much better scenario would be to increase the number of network interfaces so that once Hyper-V is installed you can assign more interface to the domain LAN.

    Setting up your storage LUN’s
    A LUN on a storage unit is a logical space that can then be assigned to the virtualisation infrastructure. How you set up your LUN’s and assign them depends heavily on the manufacturer of your chosen storage solution. When setting up your LUN’s, you need to consider how much data you are likely to store, how much this data may expand. These two factors will affect how many and the size you assign to your LUN’s.


    Failover clustering

    Because virtualisation puts a number of virtual servers on one physical host server, it’s necessary to plan for the failure of one host server, which could otherwise have serious and widespread consequences. Hence the use of ‘Failover Clustering’, which is the technology that allows the virtual servers on a failed host to ‘failover’ seamlessly to another host. Effective failover clustering as provided for in Hyper-V is clearly an essential feature of virtualisation. It’s sophisticated and reliable and experience shows that the end user cannot detect the failure of a server currently in use. That said, it is relatively simple to set up, and running the wizard on a host will guide you through the steps for enabling the technology.

    The first step in the setting up of failover clustering is to validate the cluster. To do this you will need all your hosts setup, the Hyper V role installed and connection to your storage solution complete and working. Validation of the cluster carries out checks on the
    system and simulates failed hosts. While you can create the cluster even if elements of the validation fail it is worth noting that if you place a support call with Microsoft® in the future, they will ask to see the original validation report to verify that the system was fully functional when setup. It is also worth making sure validation passes just to give you peace of mind that your system is ‘up to the job’.

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

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Marshmallow People and HTML5 come together in new arcade style game


    Back in March at Internet Explorer's Badger Palooza event at the 2012 SXSW Interactive festival Microsoft unveiled an arcade machine running Internet Explorer 9 featuring an HTML5 game based on the popular animated short film “Marshmallow People” from FilmCow. It was so popular, we’ve made the game, developed by Bradley and Montgomery, available for everyone – be sure to check out Marshmallow People: Bored to Death


    Bored To Death is an arcade style brawler intended as a throwback to arcade games of the past and powered by JavaScript and HTML5.. The game has our bored Marshmallow people running around the playing environment trying to keep themselves from literally being bored to death. Even cooler, a second player can join the game on the same physical keyboard. For those interested in the arcade setup, we’ll be taking the Marshmallow People on the road at events around the US over the coming months to give developers a chance to get hands on with the arcade.

    For developers interested in the JavaScript and HTML5 behind the game, the team created an in depth Behind the Tech page that discusses some of the challenges the team faced and how they overcame them. We also just launched which provides a lot of great content on how developers can harness HTML5 for web gaming. Check it out and let us know what you think!

    Originally posted on Windows Blog

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Yes, it is possible to create nice looking spreadsheets


    by Diego M. Oppenheimer

    For the last couple years I’ve been meaning to pull together some of the tips that I’ve learned working on the Excel team about how to make nice looking spreadsheets. Well, last week, Rob Collie (a previous Excel Program Manager, and now CTO at Pivotstream and author of beat me to it with his post “In the Browser, Aesthetics Yield a Greater Return.”


    I had a quick chat with Rob and he was nice enough to let me pile on with my tips, which got posted to his blog on Tuesday. So, rather than spoil any of the surprise here, head on over to PowerPivotPro and check out 15 Spreadsheet Formatting Tips. And, while you’re there, you’ll definitely want to check out PowerPivot - it can take your Excel to a whole new level!

    Go there now: 15 Spreadsheet Formatting Tips

    Originally posted on the Office Excel blog

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Controlling access on your child’s Windows Phone


    Did you know there are a few basic parental controls that give you some say over things like what apps and games your child can download on their Windows Phone?

    In this brief post, I’ll introduce you to the Windows Phone-related control settings and show you how to set them up. (If you’re feeling really organised, you can even do this before buying your child’s phone.)

    Creating a child account

    Assuming your child doesn’t already use Hotmail, Zune, or Xbox, the first thing you’ll need to do is create a Windows Live ID account for your son or daughter. Click here to start.

    You’ll be asked for info such as your child’s name and birthday. Microsoft uses the date you enter to determine what kind of account to create—child (12 or younger) or teen (13 to 17 years old). Then you’re asked ask to sign in and give your child permission to use the new account (you’ll also need a valid credit card to prove you’re an adult).

    Once you’ve created a child account, enter it during Windows Phone set up or the first time your son or daughter uses Marketplace.

    Choosing what apps your child can download

    Once you’ve created your child’s Windows Live ID account, you now have some control over what apps your child can buy or download. (Parents are always asked to sign in to approve changes to these settings.)

    Here’s how to do it:

    1. Go to, click Sign in, and enter your child’s new Windows Live ID. (The first time you’ll be asked to enter your country and child’s date of birth once more, and sign in with your adult account to confirm. This article has more detail about child accounts.)
    2. Click My Account.
    3. Under Account Summary, click Update Family Settings. When prompted, enter your Windows Live ID to authorize changes.

    By setting up a child Windows Live ID account for your son or daughter's new phone, you have control over whether they can buy paid apps or download M-rated games.

    You’ll then see an option to block or allow purchases including apps, music and videos. If you choose Blocked, your child can’t buy any paid apps from Marketplace. But he or she can still download free apps—something worth remembering. (If you want to allow them to buy a specific paid app later, you can always go in and turn this off temporarily.)

    The second option applies to explicit music and games with an ESRB rating of Mature or higher. Choose Blocked to prevent your child from downloading or streaming this type of content. A couple caveats: This setting doesn't affect music acquired outside Zune, or prevent your child from seeing explicit titles while browsing Marketplace. It also won’t prevent your son or daughter from downloading apps and games that haven’t been rated.

    Xbox LIVE-related settings

    If you have an Xbox 360 at home, you might already know about some of the parental controls and privacy settings for the console.

    Many of the settings apply only to the Xbox 360. But a few—such as the ability to approve Xbox LIVE friend and game requests—can apply to the Games Hub. You can also decide whether your child can see other people’s Xbox LIVE profiles and friends. Most of these settings are blocked by default for anybody 12 or younger.

    To change these settings:

    1. Go to, click Sign in, and enter your child’s new Windows Live ID.
    2. Click My Account.
    3. Under Settings & Preferences, click Privacy and Online Settings, and sign in with your Windows Live ID when prompted.
    4. Make your choices. More details on all these settings are described here.

    On the Xbox website, you can tweak settings related to Xbox LIVE games. A few of these apply to the Games Hub on your child's Windows Phone.

    Originally posted on the Windows Blog

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    How to add a video to a PowerPoint presentation


    Welcome to Office Tip Classics - a series of one-minute videos where you'll get to see clips of film classics and learn a tip about Office 2010. In this episode, school tough-guy Marty has a hard time keeping his cool after losing the class presentation contest.


    His teacher tries to cheer him up, explaining how to add a video to his PowerPoint presentation. Maybe he won't be such a sore loser next time.

    Originally posted on the Microsoft PowerPoint blog

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Get started using OneNote


    Some of you might want to know what OneNote is. It's the ultimate digital notebook. Think of it as a giant container where you can collect and organise all sorts of information. You can use it as a scrapbook, photo album, research notebook, and more. A OneNote notebook is organised like a traditional notebook except you can add or delete as many sections and pages as you want.

    Today you'll learn how to:

    • Set up a notebook
    • Add sections and pages
    • Name sections and pages

    Setting up a new notebook

    Here you can see how OneNote is organised. Notebooks are listed in the left column, sections are the tabs on top, and pages within each section are listed in the right column.

    How OneNote is organized

    To create a new notebook:

    1. Go to File, and click New.
    2. Choose My Computer. (Later tips will discuss storing your notebook on the web or on a company network site.)
    3. Give your notebook a name, then click Create Notebook.

    Your new notebook opens with a section already in place,and you can add as many sections to it as you want.

    To add a new section to a notebook:

    1. You'll see a tab with a star on it to the right of a Section tab.
    2. Click the starred tab to create a new section.
    3. Each time you add a new section, another starred tab opens to the right.

    Create a new OneNote section

    To name a section:

    1. Name your sections by right-clicking the Section tab.
    2. Choose Rename, and type a name for the section.

    To add a new page:

    1. Click New Page on top of the right column.
    2. A new page is automatically added to the list.

    Add new OneNote page

    To name a new page:

    Type the title on the page itself, and the page tab automatically populates with the name.

    name a new OneNote page

    Now that you're notebook is set up, you can start putting stuff into it!

    Originally posted on the OneNote blog.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Keeping your family safer with Windows 8

    One of the intrinsic capabilities of Windows 8 is the ability to use multiple accounts on any PC. This makes it much easier for parents to use tools that can help protect their children from content on the Internet as they see fit. It is also a great way for each family member to maintain their own unique online identity while still sharing a single PC. Microsoft has been a leader in creating tools to help maintain a safe computing environment for all users as well as for parents in particular. With Windows 8 we have substantially improved the family safety features and services available. Phil Sohn, the senior program manager lead for Family Safety, describes how Family Safety features will work in Windows 8.

    Kids today grow up online. They use computers to do their homework, play games, communicate with friends, and access the wealth of information on the web. Computers give children access to many positive experiences; however, parents face challenges in monitoring what their children see online, the people they meet, and the information they share.

    At Microsoft, we want to help parents create a healthy computing environment for their kids. We encourage parents to talk to their children about online safety and to set guidelines for their computer use. Microsoft and many safety advocates also recommend moving the family computer to a common room in the house so parents can glance over their kids’ shoulders to gain a better understanding of their online activities. Parenting techniques like this are important, but they may be difficult to employ if your household has multiple PCs or if your kids use laptops and tablets. And glancing over a teenager’s shoulder can be awkward for both parents and kids.

    A safer Internet is just a click away

    With Windows 8, you can monitor what your kids are doing, no matter where they use their PC. All you have to do is create a Windows user account for each child, check the box to turn on Family Safety, and then review weekly reports that describe your children’s PC use. No additional downloads, installation wizards, or configuration steps are required. Just check the box!

    Screenshot of user account creation page with Family Safety option selected

    The “monitor first” approach

    In the past, many of the industry software solutions for family safety (including Microsoft’s) focused on web filtering and other software-based restrictions. This resulted in a more complex setup experience and a constant stream of parental approval requests that could be difficult to manage. The end result was that many parents abandoned family safety products and returned to in-person supervision only—a tactic that has become less effective as computers have gotten more mobile.

    Windows 8 gives you a “monitor first” approach, which provides informative activity reports for each child. As previously discussed on this blog, signing in to Windows 8 with a Microsoft account makes setup much simpler: just create a separate user account for each child and then check the box to turn on Family Safety. As soon as you do, you’ll receive a welcome email followed by weekly email reports summarizing your child’s computer activities. We expect you’ll find activity reports a great tool for teaching your kids about responsible computer use. Of course, you can also easily add restrictions by just clicking a link in the activity report. With the simplicity of activity reports, we believe more parents will adopt Family Safety, resulting in a safer computing environment for children.

    Here’s what a Family Safety activity report looks like:

    Screenshot of a sample weekly activity report showing most popular websites, latest searches, PC time used, most used apps and games, and more

    With a Microsoft account, you can take action from anywhere, on any device, because the reports are delivered directly to your email inbox. Any changes you make to Family Safety settings are stored in the cloud at These changes are then automatically applied to all Windows PCs where Family Safety is active.

    Standard accounts for the kids

    We’ve long recommended that parents log in as the computer administrator and make sure children have separate standard accounts. In Windows 8, accounts that the administrator –or “parent”—creates are automatically created as standard accounts. This approach has several benefits. Children:

    • Won’t be able to access their parent’s email, online accounts, documents, etc.
    • Can customize their own account settings without affecting their parent’s account
    • Won’t be able to download malware or other questionable files because the SmartScreen Application Reputation service automatically prevents it
    For parents who want more control

    Activity reporting, which is on automatically in the new Family Safety, is the perfect solution for many parents. However, if you like more control, you can set up more powerful and customizable restrictions directly from links in the activity reporting email, or on, if needed. In addition to the restrictions currently available in Windows 7, we’ve added some new ones in Windows 8, including:

    • Web filtering: You can choose between several web filtering levels.

    Screenshot of web filtering settings page, ranging from "Allow list only" to "Warn on adult"

    • SafeSearch: When web filtering is active, SafeSearch is locked into the “Strict” setting for popular search engines such as Bing, Google, and Yahoo. This will filter out adult text, images, and videos from your search results.
    • Time limits: With Windows 8, you now can restrict the number of hours per day your child can use their PC. For example, you might set a limit of one hour on school nights and two hours on weekends. This is in addition to the bedtime limits currently available in Windows 7.
    • Windows Store: Activity reports list the most recent Windows Store downloads, and you can set a game-rating level, which prevents your children from seeing apps in the Windows Store above a particular age rating.
    • Application and game restrictions: As in Windows 7, you can block specific applications and games or set an appropriate game rating level.

    Here is a short video showing how Family Safety works in Windows 8:

    Your browser doesn't support HTML5 video.
    Download this video to view it in your favorite media player:
    High quality MP4 | Lower quality MP4

    Watch for Family Safety in Windows 8 Release Preview

    We are continually striving to help you create a safe, family-friendly computing environment for your kids, but of course, we know that this means different things to different parents. Some parents prefer to simply keep an eye on their children. Others prefer to set up software restrictions on their child’s computing activities. We think the simplicity and power of the “monitor first” approach in Microsoft Family Safety addresses either style effectively and will lead to more family conversations about online safety, a safer computing experience for kids, and increased peace of mind for parents. Watch for these Family Safety features in the Release Preview.

    Originally posted on the Building Windows 8 Blog By Steven Sinofsky.

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