part You may not have realised it, but some of the cool pictures that Stuart and I have been posting on this blog (well, ok, mostly Stuart) have been created with Microsoft AutoCollage. AutoCollage was brought to us by the amazing minds at Microsoft Research, who have taken advanced digital tapestry and facial recognition technologies to create a piece of software that automatically creates a collage of your digital photos.

Stuart and I have been talking to teachers about AutoCollage for some time already, and we’ve begun to see the creative ways that this tool is being used to aid in storytelling exercises, portfolios of student work, and presenting new ideas, to name a few. The only problem to date has been that AutoCollage was only available free for 30 days, and after that required you to purchase a copy for every PC you wished to use it on.

That is…until now.

(Drum roll, please…)AutoCollage_AutoCollage_11_Images

That’s right, the full product version of AutoCollage is now available ABSOLUTELY FREE for use in education from the Innovative Teachers Network. Our ITN is the only location in the entire world from which you can download AutoCollage for free. Now you and your students can download copies of the software and begin using it right away to create images like this one, which I created from photos of the Vienna Innovative Teachers Forum.

It couldn’t be easier for you to download the software. Just go to the ITN and log in. (If you still haven’t registered, you’ll need to register – for free – to create a username and password, and then you can log in.)

AutocollageHome

 

You’ll see the announcement for free downloads of AutoCollage right on the front page of the site. Just click the link more details and download instructions to get to the download page. After that you’ve only a few more clicks to go before you have your very own, free copy of AutoCollage.

Once the software is installed, it’s equally easy to use. (I installed the software and created the image above in less than five minutes, while sitting in our Edinburgh office.)

You first need to assemble the photos you want in the collage into their own folder.Capture

When you open AutoCollage, it will be pointing to photos in the root of your Pictures folder. Just navigate to the folder  with the photos you assembled and select it in the Image Browser area of the screen.

You can use the sliding bar to set the number of photos you want to appear in the collage. AutoCollage will pick the best ones to include. Your photos will then appear on the screen, as mine did at right.

You can select special options for the collage using the Options button, or you can just click Create, and watch as AutoCollage does its magic.

All of your collages are saved in an AutoCollage folder within your Pictures folder, making them easier to find later.

Stuart and I are very excited to be able to offer this tool to you for free. We’re extremely grateful to the good folks at Microsoft Research for letting us give this to you and your students. We hope you’ll head straight to the Innovative Teachers Network to download your free copy of AutoCollage today!