Sam, aged 7 , Is a PC!
Microsoft has some great adverts running at the moment, where kids show how easy it is to use a PC. Take a look at this one, on the right, in which Sam (aged 7) creates a panoramic picture of his 'Land of Robots’ model. I didn't think too much of this until a primary school teacher asked me where she could get hold of the software to do this. I thought that maybe other teachers were thinking the same thing.

Sam is using Windows Live Photo Gallery, which is a free download that you can get HERE (you will need a Windows Live ID to sign in). When I first heard of this application, I thought it was just a way of viewing photos. Little did I know just how wrong I was.

Not only does Live Photo imageGallery index all your photos and show the particular details each image. It also draws together a number of digital imaging tools into one place. As with many programmes, you can make a range of simple adjustments to your images to alter the colour, brightness or size. If you need to carry out more complex editing, you can open the image directly into your preferred photo editing software.You can select and publish collections of photos to online albums and Flickr. Emailing images is very simple, with a great function that allows you to reduce the size of the images before you post. (Read this post to get an idea of how much I like this feature.) There is also a simple slideshow feature. But it’s the Make and Extras features that really make manipulating digital images child’s play.

From the Make menu you can select a number of photos and easily make a movie using Windows MovieMaker, where you can add a soundtrack, titles and commentary. The Make menu is also where you go to post photos to a blog or burn them to a CD. And it's here where you will find the Create a Panoramic Photo command that Sam uses in the advert. For once, something that is that easy to do in an advert is easy to do in real life. I made this panoramic view from my office window during the recent snow, and it took only seconds to create.

IMG_2723 Stitch

Window Live Photo Gallery also draws into it two of our favourite applications on the Innovative Teachers Network, Photosynth and AutoCollage. Don't have AutoCollage? Get it for free for your school at the UK Innovative Teachers Network. (Kristen's blog from earlier this week explains this in detail.)

When installed, both applications appear on the Extras menu. Simply by selecting your photos and then clicking on either of these applications, you can create a synth or collage in a matter of moments.This will save you so much time in lessons, making it much easier for students to see the images they have collected and make decisions about best images to use. Imagine how cool this would be on an interactive whiteboard, with multiple students being able to work collaboratively on a collection of images.

It's likely that other photo application will be able to be added to the Extras menu, so it is worth checking back to see what becomes available. At the moment, the only other application available is Microsoft Image Composite Editor, which is a more advanced photo stitching application. So if you crave more control over your panoramic images than what Windows Live Photo Gallery gives you, download this add-in.

Windows Live Photo Gallery has changed the way I access my photos on my computer, and I think it will make any classroom activities using digital photos so much more productive and rewarding for you and your students. It has also changed the way I take photos; now that I know I have easy access to a variety of tools, I am taking more images specifically to create panoramas, synths and collages. I suspect your students will begin to do the same.

I'm Stuart and I am a PC!

You can see more examples of how easy it is to use Windows Live Photo Gallery at THIS LINK.