DreamSpark Student Review: Alexander Disney, Sheffield Hallam University

How has DreamSpark made a direct impact on your life and how do you feel this has enhanced your employability?

There are many cases, in my experience, where DreamSpark has impacted on my employability. There are also many cases that I can foresee where DreamSpark could have an impact in the future.

One such example that stands out to me particularly came from my use of and experimentation with Windows server 2008 R2.

During my first year at university I started playing with various programs in order to learn about their practical usage and the problems they could solve in various situations. This happened to become a bit of a hobby as the year progressed. One piece of software that I was yearning to learn more about, was Server 2008. I had previously used it during my time at college, however it had eluded me.

It wasn’t until I realised that Sheffield Hallam university computing students are able to access DreamSpark, that I was able to get my hands on a copy of Server 2008 R2. Since then I have been testing various setups and delving into the readily available services like Active Directory and DNS for example. Without access to or the existence of DreamSpark I would not have been able to further my learning outside of university, as purchasing a copy of Server 2008 R2 was out of the question on my student budget.

Improving my employability is not the only thing DreamSpark has done for me. I also benefit from the use of DreamSpark on a day to day basis. I now run a file sharing and media server, shared between my course mates in my student house, using the very copy of Server 2008 R2 provided by DreamSpark. This has given me a real life experience of using Server 2008 R2 that I can bring to potential employers in the future.

I am currently in the process of looking for a sandwich year placement and as a result have been reading through hundreds of job descriptions. Many of these specify knowledge and competency in the use of Windows Server as a required skill to have. Without DreamSpark I would not have been able to gain competency in the use of Windows Server, and therefore would automatically fit less job descriptions.

“I believe that DreamSpark has provided me with the potential to stand out from the crowd, making me more employable

How would you describe the level to which DreamSpark supports examination results (i.e. the effectiveness in DreamSpark supporting better coursework and tests)?

I believe it is important for DreamSpark to keep doing what it is doing as provision of MS products can help support examination results. I believe this because the use of DreamSpark provided software helps better understanding of the potential exam topics, especially in my experience in the computer networking field. I also believe DreamSpark would greatly help the examination results of other people studying other aspects of computing because of the wide range of software available.

Describe the effectiveness in the way DreamSpark motivates learning?

In my personal experience of DreamSpark I have been motivated because of the availability of software through it. Without this availability the motivation to learn the software would diminish greatly because of the usual cost of software. In other words, providing free software allows the mind to explore, without any hindrance.

Describe the effectiveness in the way DreamSpark supports student confidence and chances of success in their careers?

This area is where, I believe DreamSpark stands out. The potential for students to gain confidence using various software packages is directly related to their chance of success in their future careers. The fact that the software packages are easily available and free will allow students to practice use of them, allowing them to gain confidence of their use in a future career. This may even providing them with the chance at a higher job position due to their wider soft skills set than other similar candidates, who might not have taken advantage of DreamSpark.

For one or more elements of DreamSpark listed below, can you briefly identify a situation where you believe that your work has transformed the way you engage teachers and students?

Operating Systems: e.g. Windows 7, Windows Server 2008

My work with Windows Server 2008 R2 helps me engage with my fellow students through the use of the file sharing server I have set up. The use of Windows Server 2008 R2 has also helped me engage more with the teachers because I will ask them for help should I get stuck, this shows them I am willing to learn and better my understanding.

Applications: e.g. Visio, Project, OneNote

As mentioned in a previous example, the use of these software packages has really helped me engage with my fellow students and teachers. Visio and Project in particular have helped me engage with my fellow students because I have been able to effectively organise them and help them with network designs and project management.


To find out more about DreamSpark opportunities, visit the website: www.dreamspark.com

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