Windows 8 TouchDevelop Appathon and BETT Show 2013

Before Christmas a number of UK Academics took part in 3 virtual university sessions on TouchDevelop with Peli de Halleux from Microsoft Research in USA. 3 UK academics were selected from the 50 or so educators from around Europe who took part, to go to London for a final 24 hour appathon is an exciting new platform which allows you to create apps on any HTML5 enabled browser and therefore you can develop on pretty much any platform, including mobile devices such as tablets or even phones. The apps you create can also be tested in the browser, so this platform provides the opportunity for students to create apps on mobile devices for mobile devices and on pretty much any device they have and see it running on that device. The final apps can be published as Windows 8 RT apps or Win7/8 phone apps on the Windows marketplace.

So the three academics travelled to London (courtesy of Microsoft Corp) David Renton (FE Academic) Ray Chambers (School Teacher) and Jimmy Edwards (School Teacher).

They began the event on Monday in CP. What’s interesting about David Renton, Jimmy Edwards and Ray Chambers is that are members of the UK Microsoft Partners in Learning network and are part the K Team academic evangelism programs helping UK Academic’s use MS technology in the classroom.

The appathon kicked off properly at 11am with Ben Nunney and MS Research staff to provide technical support, guidance and direction. The key goal of the appathon was to develop educational app ideas into reality using TouchDevelop. With the academics using Windows 8 and Windows Phone devices, the academic got down to creating Win 8 and Windows Phone apps and getting their hands on RT Slates, surfaces and Windows 8 laptops.



Appathon kicks off

The competition went on late into the early hours and David was last to leave at around 4am.

I arrived at CP early on the day judging day to be involved in the final judging at 1pm the teams started to present their apps to the judging panel and to our fellow educators.


David Presenting Math Mage at the Appathon

What was interesting about David games was he got his students involved and one Michael Philp a Scottish art student created the amazing original art work for Math Mage and a really interesting concept of involving students into activities such as this.


Math Mage for Windows Phone

However at the judging it was clear the Ukraine teachers were amazing! They built an amazing app which lets you construct and test electric circuits on your Windows 8  mobile phone or Windows 8 device.

The winner received a brand new Surface RT Tablet courtesy of Microsoft.

Despite the UK not winning I was really impressed with the apps that David and Ray Chambers produced unfortunately Jimmy had to be rushed to hospital with a kidney stone on the Tuesday evening he is now recovering. Both David and Ray are now in the process of publishing them both + more to the Windows 8 and Windows Marketplace.


Winning App from the Ukraine

On Wednesday the BETT Show at the ExCeL Convention Centre started where Vince Cable and Microsoft VP Anthony Salcito opened the show in the new Microsoft Arena in the middle of the massive ExCel conference centre.


Anthony Salcito Microsoft VP



Windows 8 Surface Pod


Microsoft Stand


Yes it was really busy!


Microsoft Stand and Theatre

Apart from Windows 8 everywhere, The overall theme running through the show was BYOD, Bring Your Own Device and the idea that in future students of all ages from Primary through to FE and HE should be allowed to take the amazing technology sitting in their bags out and use it in the classroom.


BETT Show 2013

On the Thursday I had a presentation slot on Surface in Education and apps being the centre of the new learner experience, Before I presented, I went to the NAACE stand for the launch of the Kodu Kup in conjunction with Microsoft and UKIE.

On the NAACE stand Stuart Ball from Microsoft Partners in Learning along with Nicki Maddams from the Microsoft Partners in Learning K-Team launched the exciting new competition for all school kids aged 7 to 14, where they are challenged to work together in teams of 3 to produce a game which will be judged by Microsoft, with the top ten teams from around the country winning a trip to Microsoft HQ in July, where the top teams will be rewarded with XBOX360s and Kinects.

After this we rushed over to Learn Live D Theatre where we were presented on Kodu, Kinect, xGames and TouchDevelop and the Imagine Cup, DreamSpark using Microsoft Development tools and how they are being used to the classroom to engage and excite learners. We had some famous faces in the audience such as the team from LionHead the game developers behind the Fable game series and a number of educational titles.

The presentation from the K team went very well and it seemed to be well received by everybody, as David and Ray simply presented their experiences of using technology in the classroom.



On the Friday Ray and David had initally planned to take it easy and just take in the show and had planned to go see Professor Brian Cox presenting, but I managed to gently persuade them both to take part in another Appathon, this time it was the Stone Hackathon which was being judged by Pearson education, stone computers and Johnny Ball of 80s kids tv fame.


Ray made a French and Maths version of his Spelling Bee app and David made an English version of my Math Mage called Word Mage which tests kids knowledge of Nouns, Verbs, Adverbs and Adjectives.  

Ray completed his Spelling Bee App and won a portable printer for his efforts. So it was a great day for Windows 8 with Apps both being for our platform built using different technologies.


David and Ray with Jonny

David has also gratefully agreed to produce teaching materials for Microsoft Faculty Connection Resources on using TouchDevelop for games development and programming. The materials will cover basic programming concepts and how to use TouchDevelop to create classic arcade games like Pong, Breakout, Space Invaders.