I am writing this email to thank you for telling me about PhotoSynth. On August 21, 2008, you wrote and spoke about PhotoSynth the exciting new 3D photo software created by Microsoft Labs. As with all of your nuggets of wisdom, I filed this one away and began to contemplate how I could use it in my current job. You see, I am the Director of Educational Technology at The Frisch School a Jewish modern Orthodox private high school in Bergen County NJ. My job is not fix the computers, I have a staff of IT professionals both on onsite and as consultants for that. Rather, my job is to help the teachers and students use the computers and other technologies (assuming they're fixed) for educationally worthwhile ventures so I am always on the lookout for new and creative ideas.
I realized that PhotoSynth would be the ideal software to create Virtual Hallways at Frisch. Why would I want a "virtual" version of a high school hallway? Because once a year we have an exciting program that we call Shiriyah.
Shiriyah is a cross between colorwar and a singing competition. For a week, the school is taken over by the student's creativity as each grade works together as a team to produce videos, songs, banners, a stomp, and hallway displays revolving around a Jewish theme. One of the pities of this event is that after a week of song, dance, and art its over. The banners are saved of course, hung up in the cafteria, but the beautiful hallways are slowly dismantled and soon are back to their normal selves with their multi colored lockers and beige walls.
I recognized that PhotoSynth would be the ideal way to preserve these hallways online in all of their pristine glory forever. Students, parents, and faculty would be able to take a virtual "walk" through each grade's hall and marvel at the tremendous intelligence and talent that went into them. So we had a parent volunteer who photographed the halls during the climax of Shiriyah; using overlapping photos of course with some wide angle shots for perspective. Then I spent a Saturday night zipping these hundreds of photos into PhotoSynth to create the Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior Hallways. The results were not perfect (it was a first attempt and the finished products were between 40% and 59% synthy). However, they did succesfully give a taste of Shiriyah and created an archive for the future.
I featured these hallways together with other artifacts from Shiriyah on a school wiki. (I create lots of school wikis using www.wikispaces.com free K-12 site features including one that integrates the curriculum for the entire 9th grade but that would be the subject a different email.) You can check it out at http://shiriyah2009.wikispaces.com/. Just click on the various grades to see the hallways. Our students, faculty, and parents are so excited about this project!!! It is all thanks to the knowledge that I gained from you. Thank you David Pogue for sharing your technology tips every week. I anxiously await the next "big thing" that I will be able to integrate into my school to further our educational mission.