Sunday, December 25, 2011

Top Most Read Posts of 2011

It may be a little early but not much. At this point it would be a big surprise if some other post made it into this list. These fifteen posts were far and away the most read of 2011. The first on the list had over 20,000 views. The last on the list was over 4,500 views which was a good 500+ more than the next on the list. Most of these posts had so many views because of links from other places. Somehow they hit a nerve with some people and a lot of extra traffic came towards this blog. The average post was probably read about 400 times over the course of a year. Still not bad but nothing like the traffic the most viewed posts received.

Most of these posts have a lot of comments as well. The comments add a lot of value in my opinion. I hope you’ll take a look at some of them.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Interesting links 11 December 2011

Last week I posted a list of some of the great computer science related blogs I read on a regular basis (Computer Science Education Blog Roll) Week after week these people share ideas and thoughts and tools that really make a difference in the world. This week, as usual, I list some of the best posts from those very special people. But first Andrew Parsons reminds me that Just One More Week To Enter The Rock Paper Azure Fall Sweepstakes! This is an opportunity for programming hotshots to learn a little about writing applications for the cloud and have a go at writing some artificial intelligence code as well.

I really love Ben Chun’s idea of spending the first 5 minutes of class writing a method of the day. Take a look at his blog post Question of the Day and find the link to the first 10 questions he used with his students. For C#, Visual Basic and F# you could probably do something like this fairly easily with Pex 4 Fun and save some grading time.

I also enjoyed this blog post by Johnny Kissko ( @johnnyeducation) about Kinecting the Gaps in Education. Well worth the read.

In other news, the Alice team ( out of Carnegie Mellon University  has a new Alice Facebook page to help build community.

Ed Donahue ( @creepyed) tweeted about A beginners guide to developing for Windows Phone . Download the guide (the link is to a PDF) and get started!

Computer Science in Top Ten Degrees That Pay Back: In Computer Science As more and more students (and their parents) start to take the economic viability of various degrees and majors it is nice to see computer science near the top of the list.

The student focused Microsoft home page at has been completely updated and redone. Well worth checking out and sending students you know to visit.

Did you notice that the new Kinect for Windows SDK Beta 2 is now available for download?

last but far from least, Tony Franklin (@TeachTec) has but the most amazing list of  Tools for Schools at This site lists over 100 free Microsoft Education resources that you can use. Oh and perhaps FREE works for you? Check it out and pass it along to any other teachers you may know.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Why I’m Still Excited about Computer Science

It’s computer science education week and that has me thinking about what I’d like to tell students about computer science. So I decided to record something on the subject.

The short version is that 38 years after the life changing experience that writing my first computer program was I am more excited about computer science than I was then. And that is saying something. This is my first experience trying to do a video cast but since a lot of students don’t read this seemed like a good time and a good topic to try it out. I hope you like it.

Some links that I talk about for reference:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Interesting Links 13 November 2011

I spent a lot of time watching the Twitter feed and reading blog posts about the Microsoft Global Forum last week. And some watching the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing as well. A good number of this week’s links are to posts related to the Global Forum. Let’s start with post event reflections from three attendees who were there in different roles.

Two more teacher reflections

Doug Peterson had a series of blog posts from the Global Forum and between his tweets and posts I feel like I had a good idea (in a very small way) of what was going on. Here’s a bit of the day by day as Doug experienced it.

Here is the list of the 2011 Global Innovative Educator Award winners!  If you are interested in participating in 2012 follow the Microsoft Partners in Learning Facebook page. A few more news pieces from the Global Forum

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke to the group and throws a fish!  Also Microsoft announces partnerships to inspire and support educators around the world:

Kinect was big at the Global Forum and coincidentally there is a new home page for Kinect for Windows

From Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Ed Donahue (@creepyed) send out an invitation to heck out the flickr group, This is what a computer scientist looks like,  A great collection of women of all types who are involved in computer science. Chances are good that girls you know will see imagines of women like them.

Also at GHC, Ashley Myers (@OrganizeFISH) Tweeted this interesting tidbit “AP Calc and AP Stats have almost 50/50 female/male. AP CS ~16% female. ” Make you think doesn’t it?

Launching the 2nd Annual CSEdWeek Ideas for colleges from Mark Guzdial (@guzdial) that apply to many businesses as well.

Bob Familiar (@BobFamiliar) blogs about a new program for app developers.  [Your App Here] offers opportunity to have your Windows Phone app featured


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Interesting Links 7 November 2011

Andrew Parsons has written an amazingly complete blog post about Create and publish your own Tower Defense game for Windows Phone 7. It you want one place to send a student for a “how to” this is the place. For high school students the DreamSpark piece is a little different in that they should get an access code from a faculty member at their school. That is a minor detail though and shouldn’t cause anyone any real issue.

I found a couple of new (to me at least) computer science teacher blogs last week:

Have you seen the Kinect Effect video? Or read about how ‘Kinect Effect’ Magic Pushes Beyond the Living Room. It’s pretty cool and full of ideas and potential. last week Vice President for Education at Microsoft, Anthony Salcito, talked about The Kinect Effect in Education. What are some of your ideas?

For more on Kinect, it’s been out a year now, you may want to see this article on Silicon Valley’s Kinect Contributions.

I’d like to point out a few great blog posts by others in the last week or so.

One last interesting article. How one woman technologist single-handedly created thousands of jobs article and video interview on| Venture Beat. Very cool way that one person used the power of the Internet to solve literally thousands of small problems for lots and lots of people

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Writing My ISTE Keynote

I had mail today saying that ISTE was looking for nominations to present a keynote in San Diego this summer. They asked “could it be you?” Well unlikely it would be me but I asked myself “what would I say if I was asked to give the keynote at ISTE?”

So I sat in my hot tub for a half an hour and now have a basic outline ready. I am thinking that I will write it up over time and post in on my blog. Either this one or that one. Why not?

The next thing I thought is that everyone in education should write their own ISTE Keynote and publish it online. If you don’t have a blog I’d be willing to post some of them here. But really, isn’t it time you started your own blog?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Interesting Links Post 31 October 2011

Busy week last week. You may have read about my two days in Atlantic City (Kinect-ing at the NJSBA Annual Workshop). Real  work. Enjoyable work but none the less it was work. Friday I visited a career technical high school, Upper Cape Cod Tech, and had a wonderful visit with students and faculty alike. And then from Saturday night until Sunday night I got the experience the wonder of life without power. Yes we did have a big snow storm in New Hampshire and the trees and power lines took a beating. It was quite a reminder of how dependent we are on electricity these days. But we’re nice and warm and have Internet back now so all is right with the world. I was afraid I would have to run the engine in my car to power my laptop and get me an Internet feed from somewhat to do this post but I’m getting to do it from the comfort of my home after all. Here now some links that I hope will be useful.

People often ask me what it is like to work at Microsoft. I tell them it is pretty great. Last week Great Place to Work® Unveils World's Best Multinational Workplaces and Microsoft tops the list. This list is for companies with a global foot print but Microsoft regularly makes local lists in numerous countries, states, and local geographies. Most of the people who work at Microsoft love it.

Please welcome Doug Bergman, Computer Science teacher and innovative educator, to Twitter @dougbergmanUSA. Visit his blog at Read about how Doug is excited to represent the US at the Global Innovator Forum Nov 7-11 in Washington DC as well.

Congratulations to Mitchel Resnick - awarded the McGraw Prize in Education for Scratch

The new Windows Phone Blue Book now available from Rom Miles (@robmiles) Learn the latest for creating Windows Phone Apps from someone who really knows how to teach.

Meet the Microsoft Tech Student of the month for October – Shashank Srinivas 

Did you see the news that once again a technology company is promoting a woman to the top spot? Last week I read that  IBM tapped its first woman CEO to succeed  current CEO Palmisano. The opportunities for women in technology are there all the way up to the top.

The Teacher Tech blog (Twitter @TeachTec) continues with there TeachTecTip series with Add sounds, movies and animation to your PPT (this post includes a How-to video & step-by-step instructions.)

Are you ready for Computer Science Education week? If not read about some Activities for CS Education week on the CSTA blog.

Have you heard about the upcoming HTML5 Game Camp Series? Coming soon to Boston on 11/17, plus Atlanta, NYC, and Penn State soon after.

NEW: Streaming videos of CS&IT 2011 Presentations! Did you miss the SC & IT conference in New York City this past summer? Good news then. The presentations were recorded and videos are now available. Catch them now!

Have you seen some of the latest things from coding4fun? Check out Digesting Kinect. Using the Kinect to teach the Digestive System

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Interesting Links 17 October 2011

I spent two days are a Windows Phone event last week. One of several I posted date for at Your Chance to Learn Windows Phone Development for Free There are a lot more of them up and down the east coast. We had a few faculty members and students at this one and I think they  all learned a lot. I know I did.

The Teacher Tech blog had an interesting featuring the work of Kelli Etheredge @ketheredge who I I met at the US Innovative Education Forum this summer. Read about it at Putting your students in the court room–mock trial, of course

Know a tech-savvy girl? Encourage her to apply for the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing!  I wrote about this earlier at 2011 NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing. This is a really great program to bring some positive attention and recognition of girls who are interested in careers in technology.

One of the ways Microsoft is using software to make things better is by  Making Buildings Energy-Smart at Microsoft. Ideas like this not only reduce energy consumption but make everything more efficient. This is just one way that software is making a difference in solving the worlds problems. For students the Imagine Cup is an opportunity to come up with their own ideas for using software to make the world a better place.

Doug Bergman writes about his experience with the World Series of Innovation on his blog.  I wrote about this event earlier at NFTE World Series of Innovation

I don’t know if you saw the very sad news that Dennis Ritchie (1941-2011), creator of the "C" language and co-creator of Unix, passed away last week. A lot of good things came from his work over the years. BTW the Windows Phone workshops I attended were in the heart of Cambridge’s Kendall Square where there is recognition of Steve Jobs, another pioneer we lost recently. People have been leaving various things there to honor his memory. I took a picture.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

When Fish Fly

global forumHow excited am I about the Partners in Learning Global Forum? I’m seriously thinking of taking vacation days and paying my own way to Washington DC to see if I can “crash” it. I had a great time and learned a lot judging the US event (Innovative Education Forum–Judging Day) this summer. I met some great teachers doing a whole lot if interesting things. One of the special things about this year’s event is that the attendees were grouped into teams and asked to create a “learning excursion activity.” The team that created the best activity as judged by their peers would be the “tenth team” that the US sent to the Global Event. Well the winner was announced this week at Flying Fish & Kinect help lead the final U.S. team to the Partners in Learning Global Forum.

The winning team is made up of:

  • Doug Bergman, computer science, Porter-Gaud High School, South Carolina
  • Johnny Kissko, math, Frenship High School, Texas
  • Margaret Noble, media arts, High Tech High, California
  • Donna Thomas, computer science, Sherwood High School, Maryland
  • Lou Zulli Jr., computer science, Lakewood High School, Florida

Some of those names will be familiar to regular readers of this blog. For example Doug and Lou have been congratulated before for their performance at the US IEF event. (Congratulations Louis Zulli Jr. and Doug Bergman) Johnny Kissko and his KinectEducation site have been linked to several times as well. Margaret Noble made a trip to a United Nations conference on Education  in the Middle East that she documented at Guest post: A reflection by a U.S. educator visiting Jordan “…a United Nations conference for education” and which I linked to.

Their project is really interesting and I encourage you to read all about it at Flying Fish & Kinect help lead the final U.S. team to the Partners in Learning Global Forum. But in brief,

The intent of “When Fish Fly” is for students to work in a collaborative design team to create an Xbox Kinect game (using the Kinect SDK among other tools) that replicates the sights, sounds and “sense of place” of this iconic venue within the Pike Place Market (you all have likely seen or heard of the Pike Place Fish Co., it’s the fish market where they throw whole fish when you place an order!). Of course not all students will have a chance to visit this market so the lesson was extended to be applied to any noted venue or location in your community.

Lou Zulli is having his CS students implement the project for real. I look forward to haring more about it in the very near future.

On a separate, but related note on Kinect : On Friday we released new lesson ideas and activities for use in the classroom with Kinect. These resources, aligned to Common Core Standards, were created by a team of educators (including one member from this team – thanks Johnny!). Check out the site and let us know what else you need to bring together gaming and learning in the classroom.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Interesting Links 20 September 2011

I really had to post the information about the new Game development course yesterday (Game Development with XNA Curriculum–Semester Course). I’m pretty excited about that material. Teacher developed and tested and aligned to standards. And it is game development. How cool is that? Closely related to that the opening of the new Imagine Cup US website (Blogged at Imagine Cup 2012–Changing The World For The Better last week). It’s not too soon to think about putting some student teams together for that. Most high school students we’ve seen have competed in the Game Design or IT Challenge.. I’m hoping we see some highly motivated students enter this year though. Of course I ran into more stuff than that last week. This week’ links include a number of opportunities for students and teachers.

Start with the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing for high school girls.

The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing honors young women active and interested in computing and technology. We are looking for next generation of technical talent. Award winners receive cool prizes, gadgets, scholarships and all girls can join a community of fellow technically-inclined young women..

And don’t forget the NFTE World Series of Innovation that I wrote about last week. It’s a really interesting set of challenges for students in a wide range of ages.

Program Call for Participation ISTE 2012 Now open thru Oct. 5 San Diego here we come. Are you doing interesting things in your computer science courses? We really need more CS related presentations at ISTE. There are always a good bunch of CS teachers there looking for new ways to do things.

Do you have things planned for Computer Science Education week? 4-10, 2011 – is a call to action to share information and offer activities that will advocate for computing and elevate computer science education for students at all levels.”


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What is an app?

In the Mobile Game Design and Mobile App Design categories of the NFTE World Series of Innovation students are asked to design an app or a game for a mobile device such as an Windows Phone. But what do an “app” mean in that context?  The meaning of words changes over time. I hear that the word “awful” used to mean the same thing as “awesome” but over time awful was used so often in a sarcastic way that the meaning changed. Seems plausible – true or not. A word today that seems to also be changing meaning is “app.” In general it is a short form of the word “application” as you can see in this partial definition from WikipediaApplication software, also known as an application or an "app", is computer software designed to help the user to perform specific tasks. ” Increasingly though the word app is used as a short form of “mobile application” or “mobile app.” That’s a nuanced meaning to some but I think “app” is starting to have a narrower more specific usage than a short form for the more general term “application.” If I had to define it I might say something like “a small application with a simple to use user interface for performing one or more closely related activities. Generally on a mobile computing device.”

What we are talking about for the NFTE World Series of Innovation are small application not some huge monolithic application like one would add memory to their high powered desktop to run.

NFTE is proud to have Microsoft as the presenting sponsor of the World Series of Innovation. Microsoft is issuing a challenge for students to create mobile phone apps and games that raise awareness and provide solutions for common student and school issues. Microsoft will provide the winning teams with a development partner to take the idea and bring it to market.

The other thing about apps is  that they tend to be personal. By that I mean they are designed to be useful for individuals. Apps help people find their way, help them get information from online sources, and in short help them solve personal problems. Here are some sample ideas for apps from the NFTE World Series Toolkit that teachers receive after registering:

  • Helping new students find their way around a school
  • Making friends and building the school community
  • Managing school and class schedules
  • Dealing with bullying
  • Improving the school grounds (cleaning it, building new features)
  • Improving school safety
  • Helping students and schools protect and improve the environment
  • Help students get and stay healthy
  • Simple learning games—helping students learn subjects (math, geography, science, history)

Here is an example of a simple app that students might want to create (or use themselves!)

Nearly every school publishes a handbook, and most have web sites that contain important information, such as school directory, maps, class information, athletics,
latest news, and other details that are important to students. When people aren’t at a computer, however, it’s often difficult to get this information. In addition,
school administration and faculty need a quick, centralized way to get new information out to students and parents.

MySchoolApp is a Windows Phone app that provides school information to students and parents, such as news, school events, important links, faculty
directory, and school maps. School administrators can publish information and notifications via the app as easily as updating their school web site.
Windows Phone users can download the version for Bentley University here:

MySchoolApp gives you access to school news, faculty directory, school calendar, maps, sports, alerts, and notifications—right from your smartphone! It’s great
for students and parents, as they can get the information anytime and anyplace, and it’s great for schools as it will help them communicate information quickly
and efficiently.

It’s simple, handy (a lot easier to carry as part of your phone than a hard copy paper book), and useful with timely information. What sorts of apps can your students design? The NFTE World Series of Innovation encourages that with the possibility of having the winning design turned into a real app for use by students everywhere.

Some additional links that may be useful:

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Interesting Links September 6 2011

Labor Day in the US means a three-day weekend and I took advantage of it.  Smile I’d like to make note of a couple of my recent posts that seem to have more in common now that I read all the comments on them than they did initially.

Together I think they form the basis for a long discussion about programming languages, internationalization, ease of learning vs. ease of use and generally what are the philosophical and other social aspects of programming language design. It’s more than just technical questions.

Interested in adding some cloud computing to your mobile device development? From Mark Hindsbo (@mhindsbo) I see that Microsoft has released an Azure toolkit to help bring the cloud to all devices with Android tools just released to join tools for iPhone and Windows Phone.

Stuart Ball (via  @Innovativeteach) announces more great Kinect stuff from the UK Partners in Learning Teachers K Team.

The latest ISTE SIG for Computer Teachers newsletter (PDF) is now available. As always some good information there. I’ve been a member of ISTE and SIGCT for years and find it well worth my time and energy BTW.

Last week marked the 20th anniversary of Microsoft Research (MSFTResearch) where they are doing all sorts of cool stuff. Scott Lum (@scottlum) pointed me at this In-depth look inside Microsoft Research and their nerdy research projects  via Wired Mag

Speaking of Microsoft Research (MSFTResearch ) last week they Tweeted a suggestion that people “Check out .NET Gadgeteer, a rapid prototyping device developed by Microsoft Research, now available commercially.” It’s a great new way to create programmable devices. Lots of good educational possibilities.

The ever creative Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) blogged about “Our Freshman Software Exploration Project (6 Days of Wonder)” Of course I found her discussion of how they use Microsoft OneNote particularly interesting but she has more stuff as well. OneNote is one of Microsoft’s lesser known gems with huge value in education.

CodeCampChris Bowen (@ChrisBowen) is a developer evangelist at Microsoft and a great guy. He recently announced an upcoming New England Code Camp 16 - October 29th, Waltham, MA - Save the date! While most attendees are professional developers the sessions are wide ranging and I suspect a lot of educators and STUDENTS will find value in attending. Check out Chris’ blog post for more information.

Want to become an entrepreneur? Watch @IEEEtv’s  Young Entrepreneurs video sponsored by @Microsoft to learn what you need to make it happen.

A couple of regular links to Microsoft’s Tech Student blog

Interesting post on Ethical hacking on the CSTA blog Follow them on Twitter at @csteachersa

Great article about Serious Play Conference & Microsoft taking the "Productivity Games" approach to Education

Girls Go Geek… Again! - Fog Creek Blog a great reminder that programming was once “women’s work” and that we really need to get women back into software.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Interesting Links 29 August 2011

Hurricane Irene was the big news on the east coast of the US and parts of the Caribbean last week. Oh and there was a surprising east coast earthquake last week as well. Quite some week. But I still managed to collect some links to share. If you were in the storm area I hope you weathered the storm.


The new  Microsoft in Education blog aggregates blog posts from a number of the education related blogs by Microsoft people and teams. This blog is one of them but there are many more. From this blog I found a link to a post on the Office in Education blog called A teacher’s thoughts on Windows SkyDrive (video)  If you don’t use SkyDrive for cloud storage and sharing with others check out that video.

The latest in a series of videos by the people at Channel 9 focusing on tours of the Microsoft campus show how the Building 4 remodel made room for The Garage. Don’t miss the special Coca Cola machine they have there. Pretty much every flavor Coca Cola has in one machine.

For some kids, back to school means back to cyberbullying. Microsoft is helping to Stop Cyberbullying – Read more about it on the official Microsoft blog.

I found this post at the Communications of the ACM blog pretty interesting - Password Policies are Getting Out of Control  There are lots of discussion points there especially around the trade offs between ease of use and security.

Ed Donahue collected a bunch of links to Windows Phone 7 icons libraries. If you are developing for Windows Phone 7 you may find these links particularly useful

Check this video out -- Microsoft U.S. Education CTO, Cameron Evans interviews Johnny Kissko,  Johnny is doing some interesting things with Kinect in the classroom. Speaking of Johnny be sure to check out his Kinect in Education website.


Start with this blog post titled  Kinect in Education: How to Create Content-Relevant Games

Last but not least, from @SpringboardBlog a blog post by one of our summer high school interns - Windows Phone Student App of the Week: Free Dictionary


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Interesting Links 20 August 2011

No out of the area travel for me last week. It was nice to sleep in my own bed every night. This is not to say that I wasn’t busy. I had some meetings with the people at FIRST robotics for example. They are doing some pretty interesting things with technology these days. They are a Microsoft shop and their whole operation runs on Microsoft software including their impressive field management system for their competitions. It’s always exciting to hear what they are up to. I also kept my eyes open for interesting things to share and have a reasonable list again this week. Hopefully you find some of it useful.

Microsoft runs a small high school internship program mostly in the Redmond WA home office. Recently Hélène Martin (aka @purplespatula on Twitter) wrote about her student’s summer as Microsoft High School Interns 

In a change of pace from strictly computer science related things here is a post on Microsoft software for various college majors  Just in time for back to school and lots of it relevant for high school students as well.

Great minds need great notebooks. See how OneNote could've helped make a better light bulb A fun little look at how OneNote can be used.

New Book: FRIENDLY F# through Game Development and XNA Looks interesting for people interested in this powerful functional language and game development.

Super-Detailed First (MashUp)Windows Phone 7 App Walkthrough –this post by Randy Guthrie shows one easy way to create Windows Phone apps.

New Blog Post from one of our Microsoft high school interns is  Windows Phone Student App of the Week: Liverpool Chants Lite, Juventus Chants Lite, Barca Chants Lite These are football (soccer for us Yanks) chants for various British teams.

Nice article about a pilot teaching programming in High Schools using Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer. This hardware is coming soon and it looks like it will find a place in a lot of schools over time.

Official Building Window 8 twitter account at @BuildWindows8 The official Building Windows 8 blog is at So if you are interested in keeping up with the official news on Windows 8 now you know where to look.

There is a new computer science teacher blog out.  Check out Doug Bergman's new blog. He's an innovative educator & part time alligator catcher. I met Doug this summer and am enjoying his posts so far.

You’re seen all sorts of work cloud generators in the past but how about one that works on source code? Well there is a Source Code Word Cloud Generator out now. I’ve only played with it a bit but I see some interesting potential here. And some fun.

Don’t forget about Windows Phone Mango Jump Start developer training August 23-24! Register for LIVE & FREE expert-led training from Rob Miles & Andy Wigley. I understand it will be recorded but the video will not be available for a couple of weeks. So if you are in a hurry to learn try and attend while it is live.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ready or Not–New School Year About To Start

Well according to my Twitter feed a lot of schools in the US south are back to school. Teachers are reporting for duty and students are expected any day now. My post from 2007 called What Do You Do the First Day of Class is getting a surprising amount of traffic. Posts with programming projects (that link brings up a list of posts tagged for projects or visit my Interesting Projects–A Collection post) are also getting more than the usual amount of traffic. So I’m pretty sure that a lot of people are getting ready for the new school year. Maybe you are all ready for school. Maybe you are not. Maybe you are one of those people who just never starts preparing. But ready or not students are going to be showing up soon. Are you excited?

If you do nothing else I urge you to get excited. If you can’t actually be excited, summer is after all hard to give up, please prepare to act excited for your student’s sake. As the expression goes “fake it until you make it.” Students are going to assume that if the teacher isn’t excited about what they are teaching that they don’t need to be excited either. That can be a poor way to start off  the school year.

I’m excited about the new school year. I hope to visit more schools and talk to more students than ever before. If you are in the New England area and would like a guest speaker let me know and we’ll see what we can work out. Perhaps for Computer Science Education Week? (see a recent CSTA blog post on CS Ed Week for more ideas and the CS Ed Week website for resources.)  This can be a great week for expanding knowledge of and interest in your school’s computer science courses.

How are you fixed for software? For you labs make sure you have a subscription to MSDN AA for great professional level software from Microsoft. And make sure you sign up your school for DreamSpark. More software than even you geekest student can use all of – and for FREE! Doesn’t get much better than free. The image below only shows some of what is available.


Curriculum resources? Visit the Faculty Connection page and load up on free curriculum resources. XNA for game development? We’ve got it! And more coming. Expression Studio for web design courses? We’ve got that too! Kodu for the very young? Got it! Small Basic for middle school and high school? Got that too! In fact check out this post for Microsoft software for various college majors Just in time for back to school and much of it useful in high school as well as college.

There are a lot of resources out there and a lot of them are free. Take advantage of as many as you need or can use. Let’s get students excited! Have a great school year everyone!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Windows Phone Development Training Online

SO you probably know that a new version of the Windows Phone software is coming very soon. If you are planning on teaching phone development you may also be thinking “I wonder how I can get some training on this?” Well you are in luck. Online training is coming!

“Mango” Jump Start! Aug. 23-24! Pass it on…

That's right, Microsoft MVPs Rob Miles and Andy Wigley are back! Microsoft Learning hosted a Windows Phone 7 Jump Start (plus an update course) last year and it was an absolute smash. Mobile application developers raved about the fast-paced, demo-rich approach, the timeliness of real-world content on new technology, as well as the engaging and often-times humorous delivery. Now that "Mango" has made such a huge splash, they have put together another great course.

This two-day live virtual class, Building Applications for Windows Phone Mango Jump Start, is specially tailored for developers looking to build cool applications and games for the new Windows Phone Mango Platform.

Dates: August 23-24, 2011
Time: 8:00am – 4:00pm PST
Duration: 8 hours/day, including hour lunch break
Registration Link:

Mango is an important leap forward in Microsoft’s overall mobile strategy and the developer community has taken notice. Now is the time to embrace the “tile-and-app” UI and reap the rewards Mango provides your development team and user community. Here's an overview of what Rob and Andy will cover:

Day OneAugust 23, 2011 | 8am-5pm PDT | Live online training
• Building Windows Phone Apps with Visual Studio 2010
• Silverlight on Windows Phone – Introduction
• Silverlight on Windows Phone – Advanced
• Using Expression to Build Windows Phone Interfaces
• Windows Phone Fast Application Switching
• Windows Phone Multi-tasking & Background Tasks
• Using Windows Phone Resources (Bing Maps, Camera, etc.)

Day Two August 24, 2011 | 8am-5pm PDT | Live online training
• Application Data Storage on Windows Phone
• Using Networks with Windows Phone
• Windows Azure and Windows Phone
• Notifications on Windows Phone
• XNA for Windows Phone
• Selling a Windows Phone Application

Friday, July 29, 2011

Innovative Education Forum–Judging Day

Wow! Just WOW! I spent yesterday judging teacher projects as part of the US Innovative Educator Forum in Redmond. It was absolutely inspiring. In fact I would go as far as to say this was the most encouraging day in regards to American education I have ever spent. And yes that includes learning about some great things at various ISTE conferences. Yes, that is strong but I mean it. There were 70 some projects (read a brief on each of them at 2011 U.S. Innovative Educators Forum Day 1–A Brief Summary) with teachers from kindergarten through high school, public schools, private schools, charter schools, rich areas, poor areas, and all sorts of geographies. The common factors though were dedicated teachers doing innovative things to improve learning for their students. Knowing there are teachers like this who are sharing their ideas with others is very encouraging to me.

Clearly all these teachers love their students, they love teaching, and they are fearless in trying new things. Another common factor is putting some trust in their students. Even second grade students (a couple of examples come to mind) have teachers allowing their students a role in decision making. The results are impressive. The one question that always comes up is “will this impact standardized test scores?” As anyone in education knows standardized tests are far from a great way to judge learning. But as one teacher told me “just because it is on the standardized test doesn’t mean it has to be boring.” So true. Good teaching is not boring. In fact I would argue, and I think many of the teachers here would agree, the less boring the more learning goes on.

So what else is going on? The day yesterday started with an opening keynote by John Medina author of

John also gave a keynote at the most recent ISTE conference. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak you should take advantage of it. He is dynamic, funny, and informative. I bought a copy of his book and had him sign it for me. It is my airplane reading for the trip home tomorrow. He talked about two of the 12 “rules” from his book and I can’t wait to dig into the rest of them. I think there are lessons for educators (and others) in that book. It was a great start to the day.

Then we had the judging. I visited nine assigned projects and several others. I only wish I had had time to talk to all of the teachers. I also wish we could have had a lot more people in to hear these teachers talk about their projects. From conversations I had with teachers it appears that most of the teachers here (including the educators who are judges – which is most of them – list here) did a lot of networking and learning from each other. The thing I heard most was “I have learned so much.” People are going home with many more ideas then they came with.

The judging team meet first in small groups and then as a large group to discuss the projects and highlight those that were on the tops of people’s lists. Note that all of the projects were great so we are looking for the best of the best not separating wheat from chaff by any means. All of these teachers are amazing! I don’t know who the winners are yet. We’ll find out that tonight. A total of ten teams in several categories will be headed for the worldwide event in November. I need to get me an invitation.Smile

Later today we will have a closing keynote by Jane McGonigal, director of Game Research and Development, Institute for the Future and author of

I have heard her speak before and I am sure she will be both interesting and thought provoking. After that we have some more social events with the awards gals closing the day and the event. I’ll post links to the winners once I have them.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Are your students entered in the Windows Phone app contest

This Summer, build Windows Phone 7 apps and you could earn exciting prizes to catch a movie, eat ice – cream, buy camping gear and more!! This special competition is especially for students. It’s a great incentive to get creative and do something interesting and possibly win some prizes and make some money. The software is free through DreamSpark as well!

Lots of chances to win:

* The first 1,000 students to publish will receive a copy of Halo Reach®, Fable 3®, Dance Central™, Kinect Joy Ride or Kinect Sports game for the Xbox 360®. Each week we will randomly select 2 winners from among all entries received to win one $25 gift card. At the close of the sweepstakes the student with the most approved apps published to the marketplace will receive a Windows Phone 7.


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Interesting Links 5 July 2011

Wow! What a week it has been. I came home from ISTE in time for the Fourth of July holiday. I’m still mulling over all I heard and learned at ISTE. If things ever quiet down I’ll try to write some of them up. As it was I spent a lot of the long weekend doing work around the house. Yes, we computer geeks do things other than play with computers and the Internet. I installed kitchen cabinets for example. And some yard work. The best of the weekend was spending time with family though. I am putting this post together from Rapid City, South Dakota where I am visiting the SD Schools of Mines and Technology and their wonderful program for native American students. I will be judging some software designed and written by the students. Should be fun. And now a few links.

First off it was great to see Note-Taker, Imagine Cup finalists, win an IDEA Design Award  These students are not just doing software that is for a contest but are writing software to change lives so it is great to see them get even more recognition. Speaking of the Imagine Cup, have you voted for you favorite Imagine Cup team today? Come on - you know you want to. The teams from the US need some more love. They have great projects and we should all show them that we are supporting them against the rest of the world.

And Andrew Parsons has some updates on the Imagine Cup game competition:

Over in the UK they had a big Kinect for Windows event and the team put up a great blog post with lots of videos. Be sure to check it out if you are interested in where this Natural User Interface device is going.

Speaking about Kinect, visit the new Microsoft Kinect in Education web site to see what we are thinking about in that space.

One last link, this one from ISTE, they have released the new NETS for Computer Science Educators (pdf)


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Interesting Links 20 June 2011

This time next week I will be in Philadelphia for ISTE. I’m pretty excited about it. Some really great things going on there. Plus I get to see a lot of people face to face. many of these people I have met in person before but many of them I will be meeting face to face for the first time after interacting with them through this blog, through Twitter, and through email. The face to face meetings are the best! If you will be at ISTE I hope you will look me up either at the Microsoft booth or one of the sessions I am attending. I will be at a number of the SIGCT promoted events and several bigger Microsoft events. I’ll have a full “what is Microsoft doing at ISTE” with an emphasis on what I’m up to (hey it is my blog Smile) tomorrow but if you want a jump start visit the Microsoft at ISTE page now. And now for some more links.

Myra Deister, CS and math teacher and member of the CSTA Board of Directors, asks how to you set your Priorities for making sure everything gets done. She notes that teaching computer science takes more time than teaching math. Is that the same for everyone I wonder?

clip_image001Challenge, discovery, insight, surprise: Rader & Grzeda AP Students accepted ‘missions’ in InterroBang that had an impact in the community and once completed, each ‘deed’ was given points correlating into the grading process.

In case you missed it, Microsoft released the beta of a supported software development kit for the Kinect Sensor device for use with Windows. (I wrote about it here) Earlier when the news that this SDK was first coming one of the demos what a drivable lounge chair that was controlled by hand motions and a Kinect. Last week those nice people at @coding4fun released information about how to do it yourself  -  Jellybean, the Kinect Drivable Lounge Chair Do you have a robotics or engineering program as well as a programming course? This may be the cross curriculum idea or at least the germ of a whole bunch of new ideas.

In computer history news,  IBM turned 100 last week. Yes, the former Calculating Tabulating and Recording company has been around since long before computers. 

Lastly, the Microsoft Feed web site (on twitter @Microsoft_Feed) did an email interview with me and posted it at  Meet Alfred Thompson. IT came out pretty well if I do say so myself.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Share Kodu Cup Winners Announced

Today the Unlimited Potential team announced the winners of the inaugural US Kodu Cup competition.

Today we are announcing the winners of the first U.S. Kodu Cup. It’s a competition that challenged kids across the United States (from the age of 9 to 17) to use Kodu – a free game development tool from Microsoft – to create their own video game for the chance to win great prizes and the chance to attend the Imagine Cup World finals in New York City in July.


Kodu was created by FUSE labs in Microsoft Research to help children learn how to use computers while developing useful skills such as problem solving, creative thinking and planning in a fun, engaging and creative way. Kodu is proving to be a great took for fostering children’s interest in exploring a career in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).


There were some surprises in the entries – namely that students found things to do and ways to use the tool that the people who created it had never thought about. And of course there was amazing creativity and a lot of hard work in evidence. That makes the results even more exciting to me. I love the themes of the winning entries as well. The entry by Hannah Wyman 10 years old, from Massachusetts, had a theme around saving the environment by planting trees and getting soot out of the air. A very creative game for sure. You can see her video below but visit the Unlimited Potential blog post to see more of them.

More information on Kodu and STEM education