Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

August, 2008

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Friday Game News


    OK it is the start of the long weekend – well once my wife gets back from school where she had just a little more to do to be ready for students on Tuesday. So it is time to think about some game news. OK so I’m thinking about more help to create games since I really think that turning consumers into creators should be a goal. So hear now the news.

    The Popfly team announces a bunch of new features. The Game Creator has gone from alpha to beta and with this there are badges to earn, new profile pages, and new features that let you include your own images, videos and sounds into Popfly games. And more. Plus for mashups there is a new string formatter and several new blocks including a slide show display block. Read about it here and then try out Popfly.

    For all you XNA fans out there, Dan Waters announces a new video in his series on creating GuitarrMatey 3D XNA game that uses the guitar from Garage Band. If you are interested in learning how to make a 3D XNA game from scratch this is a series you want.

    Sam Stokes has started on a series on getting started with web and video game design on his blog. Besides XNA I believe he will be doing web games with Silverlight. Should be an interesting series. Sam teaches a college course in game development BTW.

    Just to fill out the post and send some link love to some people I like and respect plus as an added bonus link to some career stuff: Randy Guthrie has started a series of blog posts on how to prepare for and get started with careers in the computer/technology field.

    And Diane Curtis starts blogging at the Springboard blog started by Hilary Pike. This is the school to career blog which regularly, and probably even more regularly now, posts information for students who are thinking about their careers.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Teacher Favorite Templates: Ms. Stivers for 6th and 7th grade


    OK these teacher templates recommendations from LeeAnn Stivers who teaches at the International School in Bellevue, Washington look awesome to me. Grade book, curriculum planners, a seating chart tool using PowerPoint and more. They were all done for and with Office 2003 so if you haven’t upgraded you’ll be happy to know you can use them. You can find many more Microsoft Office resources for teachers here. Check them out!

    I have some friends at Microsoft who are looking for more teacher favorite template recommendations who are willing to share with other teachers. If you have one or more recommendations or would like to participate in a program to recommend templatesto other teachers please let me know . I’d really appreciate it.Leave a comment, send email to Alfred.Thompson (at) or Twitter me at

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Educational Uses For Collections of Images


    My wife does a middle school research project using “landmarks” as a theme. Students research places like the pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, and on and on. Obviously images are a part of this project. Students, especially today, are interested in what things look like. The other day I showed my wife Photosynth. While there have been some sample Synths (as the 3D images are called) for a while within the last week Windows Live Labs has opened up the ability for more people to create their own images. And people have! Many of the places my wife has her students research are now viewable in three dimensions and both close up and far away using an interesting and powerful navigation tool.

    So what is this about? Imagine taking a wide variety of pictures of something from different angles and different distances. Perhaps several people are taking these pictures. Now plug them into some software that figures out where everything goes and creates a three dimensional model that not only lets you look at the object from different directions but lets you zoom in and out as well. Well that is what Photosynth does. And now people can create their own.

    I see a couple of obvious uses. One is the let students explore far away places and objects. Another is to document their own world. Their school for example. Or perhaps a local landmark. Or, well all sorts of things. And yes, its free!

    The other tool I have been looking at lately is DeepZoom. Jaime Rodriguez has a good explanation of the history and workings of DeepZoom (especially useful if you want to create your own) but basically this is another stitch the pictures together application. In this care it allows very high resolution viewing of very large images that are created by building up from multiple images. This is 2D though but you can go deep. The two most famous DeepZoom images are probably the Hard Rock Cafe memorabilia demo page and one that was down with 12,000 images by Barack Obama supporters. I can see this tool used for school projects as well. Also free!

    Anyone up for creating an online tour of their school, classroom, or local landmark? Late edit: According the the Microsoft UK Higher Education blog the University of Leeds is already using Photosynth to show off their campus.

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