We are pleased to announce that we have just released a new Training & Certification Guide app in the Windows store that is a great tool for both educators and students wanting to look into route maps when it comes to Microsoft technical courses and certifications.
The Microsoft Training and Certification Guide provides a quick, comprehensive view of our training and certification landscape, and covers all of the training requisites and upgrade paths that lead to modern Microsoft Certifications. Microsoft training helps to improve your technical skills while certification helps further your career by proving your technical knowledge. Use this guide to help you achieve your IT goals.
Also featuring an interactive chart of our technical certifications mapped by courseware and exam. Clicking on the ‘subway map’ takes you to more information on the different portfolios—details about the training, certifications, etc. Clicking further will then take you to /learning.
A breakdown of keyword guidance is also included to map keywords to our certifications. The app also includes a ‘view as PDF’ option should users need to print pages.
To download the free app or simply find out more, follow this link:
Are you an Educator, Head of IT or IT Administrator
This review of DreamSpark Premium will assist Microsoft in understanding your institutional use of applications, while also assessing the effectiveness and impact it is having on developing student skills and attainment. Most importantly, we would like to understand how effective access to DreamSpark has been in supporting coursework and test results of your students. You also have a chance to let us know about any particularly positive or negative experiences you have witnessed so we can ensure that in the future we are delivering an even better service.
Just click here (http://dreamspark-edu.questionpro.com) to complete the online questionnaire.
Are you at school, college or University? Help Microsoft understand and support your use of DreamSpark
We need to know that you value DreamSpark to be able to win the battle to continue to deliver it for free – help us help the next generation of students.
We are inviting students to complete a short survey to help us better understand how the DreamSpark programme is supporting your skills development, learning outcomes and career potential. We would like to understand what range of applications and tools have been of use to you, how often you use them and how effective they have been in supporting your skills development. Most importantly, we would like to understand how effective access to DreamSpark has been in supporting your coursework and test results. You also have a chance to let us know about any particularly positive or negative experiences you have had so we can ensure that in the future we are delivering an even better service.
Win a XBOX ONE
We are only looking for a few minutes of your time and all responses remain anonymous. Just to give you a little more of an incentive to help us gather this data we are offering one lucky student an Xbox One. Just click here (http://dreamspark2014.questionpro.com) to complete the online questionnaire.
Public customer service email: DreamSparkSupport-EM@eu.subservices.com
All EMEA Service Center details: https://www.dreamspark.com/Support/RSC.aspx#Europe
For further information on Microsoft DreamSpark, please visit our website:
Guest post from Ray Chambers, Uppingham Community College.
So recently I had the pleasure of going to BETT, yes it seems like it was a while ago now….
I was invited to present the work that my students had been doing around App development. Our students at Uppingham Community College had been coming together at Lunch times to build apps to help lessons. My students had come up with ideas which benefit lessons and they produce the apps to help the learning.
While at the BETT show I had the pleasure of meeting some great teachers. It was great to meet Claire Lotriet @OhLottie. Claire had helped develop the switched on computing curriculum for primary schools and had been doing a lot of work with Kodu and explained to teachers how simple coding can be. Many teachers didn’t know that there were still creative items in the new curriculum and it was really settling for them to hear from someone in the same boat. She explained how simple it could be to break down an algorithm into something as simple as baking bread. She also shared a whole host of resources. If you’re interested in finding out more about switched on computing then you can visit this link.
Another particularly interesting presentation was from Jon Tait. He explained the mystery you can add into your classroom with the tool Skype. For example, It’s as simple as finding a classroom, arranging a time and sharing your story. It was so inspiring that I decided to try this just last week and achieved some good results. Many of my students loved the surprise of not knowing who was going to be on the other side of the camera. They were all very keen to share what they had learnt in the lesson.
Since BETT I have worked more with my students and some of them have come up with more ideas and some of these apps are going to be published in the Windows Store very soon. They have almost finished a computer science app for labelling computer parts and they have also created a mystery app for investigating a history subject.
Although my students are now independent with the usage of TouchDevelop.com, I still like to keep my own brain ticking over and using an idea from a fellow teacher Dave Anderson, I decided to make a homework app for teachers to use. Teachers don’t always have time to set creative homework’s and sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate tasks. The idea is simple, it’s a takeaway menu…. but the spicier the homework, the more difficult it is. Your students or teachers can download the app and pick a homework based on the subject they have just learnt. It doesn’t end there, if you want to add your own homework onto the specials menu, you can do this. Later on, you can press the generate button and this allows you randomise the task your going to do or set. You can download this from the windows store here.
Another app that I have recently developed is for the Computer Science Curriculum. The AQA computer science G.C.S.E maps into the Microsoft Technology Associate exams. This gives your students the opportunity to learn the content of the G.C.S.E and sit extra qualifications. It was because of this that I created a free mapping tool. You download this tool and it tells you what exams are available to take based on the course content. This is the first edition and on top of the mapping, the tool will allow you to have access to programming and computing science resources in the future. You can download this from the store here. There are likely to be video tutorials to be added to this in the future as soon as all of the videos become available and it will be a worth while tool to have even if you’re not going to do the MTA exams. It will be a growing resources library.
Both of these apps were developed using the tool TouchDevelop. They both run on the Windows 8 Devices. You can access TouchDevelop by going to the following address: http://www.touchdevelop.com I will be doing something very soon with the hour of code and TouchDevelop, so watch this space… I started using TouchDevelop about a year ago, after being invited to a teachers Appathon. Since using it I have been addicted to it. I use it with my KS3 and KS4 students and it seems to be a lot more engaging with the students. They learn a text based language or they can cater it to simple clicks. It’s as difficult as you want to make it which makes it a great tool for differentiation. There are other languages out there but I think my students love the idea of going home and continuing their apps on the computer. They will log on and access all the files and images through the cloud and continue the development. Isn’t it brilliant when students are inspired to continue learning without us!
If you’re interested in finding out more about Touch Develop, you can access content here…… watch this space for some TouchDevelop Hour Of Code materials coming your way….. :
KS2 Curriculum – I’ve developed a simple introduction for primary schools using the turtle.
KS3 Curriculum – This is slightly more advanced and there are optional lessons on algorithms to fit in with the national curriculum.
Touch Develop – Video tutorials developed to help aid the curriculums
Touch Develop Hour Of Code – Official Tutorials from the TouchDevelop team.
Touch Develop Challenge – A series of lessons developed by Simon Johnson to get students building games and apps.
Games4learning – Created by David Renton (Extended Lecturer in Games Development: Reid Kerr College, Scotland) A series of YouTube tutorials which introduce students to game design using Touchdevelop.
The Windows 8.1 operating system builds on the feature and capabilities in Windows 8. One prominent feature is the Windows Store apps. Educational institutions can purchase or create apps for Windows 8.1 that use the new Windows user interface (UI).
But Windows Store apps can raise certain questions:
• What is the best way to deploy Windows Store apps in an educational environment? • Do all the apps need to come from the Windows Store? • Can you use existing deployment technologies and processes to deploy them? • What role does the Windows Store play in the app deployment process?
This guide offers several examples of app deployment strategies and considerations when selecting among them. It is written for IT pros, school administrators, teachers, and other faculty who are responsible for deploying Windows Store apps on institution-owned or personally owned devices.
The full guide can be viewed/downloaded below:
Blog Repost, Originally Posted on Ray Fleming’s Education Blog
We announced recently that Yammer for education customers will be free of charge from 1st April 2014, through your Office 365 for Education subscription (which is also free). Which means that educational institutions are able to have a communication system (through Office 365’s email and Lync service), collaboration and document storage (through Office 365’s SharePoint and OneDrive), and secure social networking and collaboration (through Yammer) – all of which is free.
The beauty of Yammer is that it can be fully integrated into your user database – so you create a private place for just your users to collaborate and mingle, and can enable and disable users easily. And then within Yammer you can create public and private groups – so staff can have private planning and discussion areas that others can’t access. Or groups of students can be placed into individual communities, for classes, subjects, sports and social groups etc. It also has a range of apps for mobile devices, so your users can access it on the go from their iPhone, Windows Phone, Android phones etc
There has always been a basic free version of Yammer that users can sign up to individually, and create communities and groups, and some education users in Australia have already been using that for some time (some of them with hundreds or thousands of users). But when you want to have organisational control over your users, then in the past you would have had to paid for the full Yammer Enterprise version. But from 1st April, that’s the version that education customers can get free.
The major difference between Yammer and other social networking systems is that your Yammer network is private, and controlled by you. You don’t have individual teachers uploading lists of students to third-party websites, and managing them outside of your existing systems. Instead, your IT team have full control over your users in the same way that they do for other systems in your school, TAFE or university. Adding and deleting/disabling users is all done centrally. And you have control and visibility of the content and conversations that are happening.
Some of the key features of Yammer that are relevant for education customers are:
Once Yammer Enterprise is available, Office 365 Education tenant administrators will receive an activation link in their Office 365 admin portal. You then visit the Office 365 Admin Portal to begin the self-guided provisioning process. There’s a complete Yammer Activation Guide here. There are also additional resources on activation and provisioning from Yammer.
Learn more about Yammer
To assist educators, students and parents find resources to take them beyond the Hour of Code, the Code.org UK website features some amazing resources, tutorials and lesson plans that can be used to inspire the next generation of developers.
All these resources are fun, engaging and intuitive and are well suited for those students just taking their first steps. There is also a great selection of resources for those who have a little more experience under their belts.
A selection of the resources include the following (click on the images to access):
I am definitely going to be giving some of these a whirl over the weekend! Let us know what you think in the comments below.
On behalf of Microsoft and as a Microsoft Partners in Learning establishment, we are asking for your assessment of the impact the partnership is having on student engagement, motivation and attainment outcomes.
As part of their 'GET ON' campaign to support the attainment of students across the UK, Microsoft has commissioned NERP to assess the reach and impact of Partners in Learning establishment. The aim of the research is to provide the education community with an assessment of the reach and impact of the various services, including innovative teachers. We have ensured that the questions are quick and easy for you to complete and ask no more than 10 minutes of your time. All responses will remain anonymous and secure. Microsoft will only receive an analysis of the cumulative results of the research.
Excerpt from ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’
This is the most important but often the most over looked aspect of any 1:1 initiative or technology deployment designed to change culture and teaching methodology. By creating a policy related to continuous teacher professional development and writing it into your roll-out plan you will formalise the need for training within your staff team.
Professional development should include both technical and pedagogical training. It should also include a blend of face-to-face (expert and/ or peer led) and on-line learning. Staff should be given as many opportunities as possible to share ideas and learn from each other’s practice.
Microsoft Partners in Learning (PiL) is a 10-year, 500+ million dollar global initiative aimed at improving teaching and learning. Since 2003, it has led the way in partnering with education professionals, helping nearly 8 million educators and reaching more than 190 million students in 114 countries. At the heart of PiL is the Partners in Learning Network, an online professional development community that helps educators and school leaders connect, collaborate, create and share so that students can realise their greatest potential. For more information of PiL join the online discussion today at www.pil-network.com.
The focus on Learning and Teaching is really important to ensure the success and impact of any 1:1 project and this is discussed in more detail within our ‘Using 1:1 to Unlock Learning’ eBook.
The full eBook can be viewed/downloaded below.
Guest post by Education Writer Gerald Haigh
Following up on the recent blog post ‘Computer Science in the National Curriculum: Program or be Programmed’, I had a conversation with Claire Lotriet, ICT Co-ordinator and Year 5/6 leader at Henwick Primary School in Greenwich. Claire is author of the primary school resource, ‘Switched on Computing’, a joint enterprise of Microsoft and publisher ‘Rising Stars’.
We talked particularly about Unit 6 of the resource, which is built around Microsoft’s visual programming language ‘Kodu’. During the Autumn of 2013, ahead of the publication of ‘Switched on Computing’, Claire used Unit 6 and Kodu extensively with her Year Six class. How did the children take to it? I wondered.
“It went down a storm,” she says. The attraction, she explained, lies in Kodu’s use of the gaming concept.
Most of the children are into games, on the Xbox and so on, and when she showed them that Kodu is about creating their own computer games, they were hooked. Kodu, of course, is free, which benefits children as well as the school.
“It meant that a lot of them downloaded it at home”, says Claire.
“They would work how to do different things and then bring the ideas back to class. This, in turn, led to growing peer support, as children answered each others’ questions. They were definitely pushing Kodu further than I expected.
They would work out things that I hadn’t taught them – how to change the lighting in the sky for example. Kodu promotes that – the interface is an invitation to explore, and more and more children were coming back into class knowing how to do more things with it. That’s not to say there were no stumbling blocks along the way. When they produce a sequence of code, as often as not it won’t work as they want first time. They have to evaluate it, see what needs to change. It was something of a learning curve and some children struggled with it at first”
But as she says, that process of ‘debugging’ is in the very nature of computer programming, specifically mentioned in the curriculum.
“It’s important and it doesn’t just apply to computing” says Claire. “If we teach writing, for example, we place the same importance on going back and editing and correcting.
The children also had to learn to judge the level of difficulty of their games.
We were producing them for an audience of younger children, and the games had to be difficult enough to pose a challenge but not so hard that it turns the player. Pitching at the right level is another skill to be learned.”
To see Kodu used by children is to realise just how rich are its creative and cross-curricular possibilities. The starting point, which is the creation of a unique world, with an infinite number of possible landscapes and features, is a richly stimulating challenge in itself, even before the serious business of adding characters, challenges, chases and surprises.
“What came across to me when we were creating the worlds was that we didn’t have any that were the same. The settings were so varied. Kodu games, like all computer games, are stories, and their creation offers many teaching and learning opportunities.
We were able to discuss how the setting can change the feel of the story, creating moods”
There are also many links with literacy.Unit 6 of ‘Switched on Computing’ is called not just ‘Creating’, but ‘Creating and Advertising a Computer Game’. This means there is an element of enterprise education. Children learn about the importance of cover design and text, advertising copy, persuasive writing, and methods of marketing.
Now, with enthusiasm running high, Claire plans to enter at least one team in Microsoft’s Kodu Kup competition which, given the demands of the curriculum, and the increasing use of Kodu, looks like being a major event.
To find out more about The Switched on Computing range from Rising Stars, follow this link: http://www.risingstars-uk.com/all-series/switched-on-computing/
Originally posted on the UK Developers Blog.
I develop for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. I like the versatility of Windows, it is so open and really attractive from a UI perspective. Visual Studio isn't restricted to just one programming language, the interface is nice and it is easy to create attractive and powerful content in a small amount of time. I use DreamSpark, free Microsoft software for students, to get Visual Studio and for a developer license. I first learnt to code at home using websites like YouTube and through trial and error. I used to come up with an idea, think what stages would be required to achieve this end, and then searched for code snippets or tutorials for each individual stage. I consistently improve my skills by coding, learning new things myself.
I have a published app in the Store. My app is called Face The Facts, in both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 store. It is a quiz based app. It presents the user with categories, where when selected will present a random fact. The user has to decide if the fact is true or false, and is rewarded with a point if the fact is correct. The user can also add facts, and create and view custom quiz pages. I presented Face the Facts at BETT this year, demoing my app to passers-by on 'the app wall'. I attended the event for the first time last year so getting to present this year was an amazing experience. I attended all 4 days and it was great to spend a week with Microsoft, surrounded by technology (which of course I love) and interesting people. I also learnt about the world of developing from a 19 year old developer called Jamie Clarke, whose app My Study Life is already number 1 app in Education. I learnt a lot from Jamie, especially about the human side of coding - the little things that you don't learn unless you meet other developers. Things like code efficiency, and what happens after your apps are published. BETT was a really great experience for me as a young developer.
We do coding in school for computing, but not many students are interested enough to code at home to really develop their skills and enjoy it. I am very interested in programming, but I also see it as something to do to keep me entertained, I think more students could benefit from knowing this. You have the advantage of time which puts you further ahead of most, and I know I will be significantly ahead of peers in IT exams for example. I wouldn't say the real benefits of learning to code young are in school, though. If anything, being good at coding is a negative in ICT lessons as it means you are bored and you feel you could be doing something more productive to develop your skills.
In the future I want to run my own computing or software company, or be employed as a programmer. This is what I believe learning to code young has really helped me with. I can write apps now, and hopefully as I build my experience I can build a company at a young age. The younger and more experienced I am, hopefully the greater chance of success.