I know a lot of teachers who use digital cameras (still or video) with their students. Many take advantage of Microsoft's free tools, such as Photo Story and Movie Maker, so that students can use photo and video technology to help tell a story. Both Photo Story and Movie Maker are fun, useful and FREE, and later in this blog we'll be sharing ideas in this blog to inspire you to use them both with your students - if you don't use them already.
But the digital photo situation just got a little more interesting with Photosynth. If you haven't heard of it, my colleague Ray offers a simple description in his UK Schools blog
PhotoSynth is an amazing way of arranging photographs of a place - creating a three-dimensional model using photographs - allowing you to "walk around" places like St Mark's Square in Venice, or inside the Blackpool Tower Ballroom.
(For a more details on how this technology actually works, check out the more techie Microsoft blog HERE.)
At Microsoft we've been hearing about Photosynth for ages, it seems. I've seen all the cool demos by members of the Photosynth team (if you haven't, go to Ted to watch a jaw-dropping demo by Blaise Aguera). But we weren't actually able to get our hands on the technology to play with it ourselves - until last month, when we released the new features allowing anyone to be able to create their own Synths.
If I didn't work for Microsoft, I'm not sure I'd be what you call an "early adopter" - someone who rushes out to get the latest technology as soon as it's released. But when I saw the release of Photosynth, I immediately created a profile on the site and started to go through pictures from my travels to see if I had enough to create a synth. (I didn't, but on my next trip, I will.)
Since creating a synth allows you to give the experience of "being there" to someone who has not been there, I can think of endless possibilities for it in the classroom. Can you imagine partnering with a school in another town/county/country and having students create synths to share with each other? And even if you don't have digital cameras for your students, you can still share with them the synths created by other people or organisations such as National Geographic or the BBC.
(This synth of the Taj Mahal is one of my favourites.)
We've created a community on the Innovative Teachers Network for Photosynth. This community contains the photography guide and other Photosynth materials, as well as places for you to link to your own synth or post ideas and resources you're using with your students.