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September, 2008 - Microsoft UK Schools blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The UK Schools Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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September, 2008

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    What Photosynths would help your teaching?

    • 2 Comments

    How about something to help your teaching colleagues. Now that you know what Photosynth can do, are there any places that you’d really like a Photosynth of, to use in a lesson?

    I’m currently sitting at a desk between the marketing managers for Health and Government, and I’d be happy to ask them to get one of their customers to create a synth. But what would be useful? What other types of Photosynth would you want? Although I don’t know them all, I bet I could find somebody in Microsoft who deals with organisations that would have interesting buildings or locations for Photosynthing.

    Here’s some ideas:

    Add your thoughts by adding a comment, or dropping me an email, and I’ll see if I can get some going…

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Creating my first Photosynth

    • 6 Comments

    Today, I’m in London, and inspired by Alan’s IT Suite Photosynth yesterday, I thought I’d have a go. And I am astounded at how easy it turned out to be.

    image

    I took my photos of Westminster Cathedral, which is right outside of our office. Just before you say “But that’s not Westminster”, then re-read the last sentence. It’s the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral, not Westminster Abbey.

    Before I first worked in Victoria Street, I had no idea that this impressive building was a few hundreds yards from the Abbey. It is well described on its website: “Westminster Cathedral is one of the greatest secrets of London; people heading down Victoria Street on the well-trodden route to more famous sites are astonished to come across a piazza opening up the view to an extraordinary facade of towers, balconies and domes.”

    Anyway, I stood in front of it, and kept taking photos – 103 of them – including close ups of the statuary, and the left hand-side of the building, and then loaded them into the Photosynth software. I didn’t have to tag them, or arrange them, or shoot in any particular order – it did all of the work. And after about an hour (analysis, upload and display time, I guess) that was it – a 3D model of the cathedral was made.

    You can see a snapshot of a part of it on the right, and you can see my whole synth here.

    I tried a few tricks, to see how they would work:

    • Walking in the left-hand door, and you can too, but the lighting made it impossible to take photos inside - LINK
    • A close up of the notice board by the door – LINK spot the bargain!
    • And a view around the side, with a close up of the mosaic over the door – LINK

    I was astounded at the “3D dot” model it created, as it is an amazing trick from a few photos!

    Have a go at Photosynth yourself. I think this whole model took less than 30 minutes of my time (plus the background uploading)!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Getting all Synthy in Essex

    • 0 Comments

    image

    Alan Richards sent me the link to his Photosynth, taken in one of the IT suites at his school - West Hatch High School in Essex. For being the first to tackle my competition, he wins the first goody bag. There’s another goody bag waiting for the best entry by the end of the month.

    Two things I noticed about Alan’s IT suite:

    1. Lovely view (and I hadn’t realised there were so many trees in Essex!)
    2. Better solution than bars on the windows – just put the IT room on the 4/5th floor!

    Take a look for yourself on the Photosynth site. And then have a go yourself – see this post.

    I’m going to try one myself tomorrow – I’m central London so I’ll go and find a nice old building to photograph. A lesson I’ll take from Alan’s example is to take enough overlapping photographs, to see if I can achieve his “100% synthy” level)

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Churchend Primary School goes virtual

    • 0 Comments

    Churchend
    John Hardstaff, from entrustIT, dropped me a line to let me know about the changes that Churchend Primary School, in Berkshire, have made to their ICT system recently. The first quote from Nic Allen, the school’s ICT Co-ordinator was so typical of the low-level frustrations experienced by some schools:

    FirstquotesIf ICT is to be a key resource then it must just work - without the reliability and consistency problemsEndquotes

    With their permission, here’s the complete story from the team at entrustIT, and Churchend:

    A new approach to ICT at Churchend Primary School

    FirstquotesChurchend is a leading primary school in Reading, Berkshire. It is a medium sized primary with approximately 60 KS1 and 150 KS2 pupils. The school has recently been awarded National Support School status.

    In the summer of 2007, in response to problems the school was experiencing with reliability of their ICT, Churchend decided to undertake a root and branch review of ICT provision. While the staff at Churchend felt confident using IT and had the necessary skills, the systems often let them down. In particular, the ICT equipment was perceived to be unreliable, inconsistent and problem resolution was slow. These challenges were undermining the enthusiasm of both staff and pupils to use the ICT at Churchend.

    Churchend set out on a path to maximise the benefit from ICT usage across the school. As Nic Allen, Churchend’s ICT coordinator says, “If ICT is to be a key resource then it must just work - without the reliability and consistency problems”. Access to ICT needed to be dramatically improved, particularly in the classroom, to give pupils the opportunity to use it in the majority of lessons.

    The school began to explore alternative means of achieving reliable ICT provision, which would also allow a step change in availability of resources and enable pupils to use the school's suite of software from home.

    Eventually, the school chose to pilot entrustIT’s Education Desktop hosted IT solution. This is a fully managed IT solution for schools, specifically designed to address the major challenges in school  ICT.

    The system provides 24x7 access to a school’s ICT infrastructure for both staff and pupils - whether working in school or from home. In school, the system allows the school to increase the PC to pupil ratio, usually without any corresponding increase in funding, and to increase the availability of ICT services by reducing the amount of downtime and maintenance.

    The entrustIT solution provides:

    • support for pupils, teaching staff and administration staff - including provision for remote connection from any internet enabled location (e.g. from home) with full access to the school’s IT
    • secure data management, disaster recovery and malicious threat protection
    • full email server capabilities and diary management / scheduling
    • shared drives and folders and central storage of school data
    • management and support service releasing school staff and budget from IT management issues
    • centralised deployment, licensing and management of software
    • managed internet access, protecting pupils from unsavoury content and securing online communities from outside contact.

    And the verdict? “The system has greatly improved the way that the teachers work and the children have thoroughly enjoyed working on the desktop at home” says Allen. “The children can access their school environment from home and many regularly communicate with each other using the emailing service. The teachers can prepare and place the work in a shared folder that all children can access and can use SharePoint so that the children can click through to web sites rather than have to type in lengthy web addresses.”

    Now, ICT is reliable and consistent – so much so that IT has become ubiquitous across the entire curriculum – and Churchend have decided to roll out the system across the whole school.Endquotes

    Churchend school are talking at entrustIT’s free seminar here at the Reading Microsoft Campus on 25th September from 9:30am-2:30pm. Email Bonami to register for a free place, or look here to find out more about the event.

    You can find out more about the entrustIT products and services on their website

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