I've been meaning to work on our school's website for a while but things kept getting in the way. It's not used often because it's not a very interactive site and not often updated regularly. I met with a parent who was interested in giving some advice on improving the website and together we spent a quarter of the school day planning, comparing, and sketching out ideas. I shared some of these ideas with a former student who often comes in to volunteer in our school library (AL). Around the same time, our school's Photography Club wanted some extra challenges and we thought we could spruce up the site with some more photos.
One of the members of the photo club (CW) came up with a cool method of showing the usually-boring shot of the exterior of the school. She worked with our high school volunteer (AL) to see about making this possible and in their trials and attempts, they found http://photosynth.net - a place where you can create 3D tours of a landmark or building. They convinced me that we should try to make a 3D tour of our school library.
So, there we were, members of the Photography Club, a school alumni, and me, on the last day of school until 5:00 p.m. taking photos at all sorts of angles and points of view. AL and CW took the photos and I was responsible for uploading them. AL and CW tried using Photo Synth at school but there were problems, so AL wrote me directions for creating the 3D tour at home. I followed his instructions and, lo and behold, it worked! I emailed AL to have him check it out and it was operational both as an email attachment and on the school website.
I was very happy with the process and the results and I really wish that learning at school could be like this on a regular basis. This is why it was an amazing experience:
- the idea came from the community (parents and students)
- it had a real-life purpose (not just for marks or "to cover curriculum")
- we were all equals and all learners, supporting each other
- we were all motivated, even staying late on the last day of school to work on it
- we checked on each others' work, not to criticize it but to help make the final product better