As many school systems around the world convert their computers to Windows 7, I thought it would be timely to highlight some of the many handy features and add on programs that are available for free for teachers using this operating system.
Snipping Tool: This cool little tool is already a part of your Windows 7 installation. Simply go to the start menu and in the white search box type SNIPPING TOOL to call it up. You can easily use this tool to capture anything on your screen and paste it into other programs. This is a great easy way to make handouts on new software! It can also be used to capture error messages and send them to the appropriate person for tech support.
AutoCollage:This neat piece of software will automatically take your pictures of any subject and make them into an AutoCollage. It is important that teachers use the link below to get a free copy: http://us.partnersinlearningnetwork.com/Pages/ArticleViewer.aspx?listname=ITNFeaturedArticle&itemid=41
WorldWide Telescope: This free tool can be accessed at http://www.worldwidetelescope.org/Home.aspx . This virtual telescope program literally allows you to bring the universe to your students. Guided tours are available. You can run it from the web or install a Windows Client. Mac Users can use the web client as well.
Microsoft Photosynth: This free tool is located at http://www.photosynth.net/ . You can create 3D Panoramic photos and also explore a large collection of ones that are already uploaded. I had a good time checking out the collection for the Sunrise Ridge (Olympic National Park, WA). I was also fascinated by the views from Machu Picchu (I want to go!). You can also use this program to make your own panoramas. A Microsoft Live ID is required.
Songsmith: Songsmith is a tool that is free for educators from Microsoft Labs. This is a tool which puts music into the hands of kids. Children can sing a song and it will automatically put a background track to it.http://us.partnersinlearningnetwork.com/Pages/ArticleViewer.aspx?listname=ITNFeaturedArticle&itemid=41
Windows Live Movie Maker: I really like this free new version of Windows Movie Maker. In fact my copy of Adobe Premiere Elements is gathering dust. This is an excellent way to make movies with lots of options for posting or backing up your files. Download at http://explore.live.com/windows-live-movie-maker?os=other
I hope these freebies above make your teaching life easier!
Computer Resource Specialist
Landstown Elementary School
Virginia Beach City Public Schools