“Having a projector in the classroom without a document camera is just like growing tomatoes without really well-fertilized soil! Yes the tomatoes will grow but they probably won’t win at the local show for best tomato! “
It really does surprise me that many schools purchase a very expensive projection system for the classroom to be used with the local computer and internet facility – and then ignore the huge extra benefits that come with just popping a document camera in the system at very little extra cost.
At FETC 2010 the large number of document camera manufacturers I saw in the Exhibit Hall really hit home to me the wide variety and low cost! With high quality document cameras costing just $400 to $1000 it’s hard to believe the uptake of document cameras in classrooms isn’t higher.
For those of you that are unaware of what I’m talking about a document camera works just like a digital camera on a stick that overlooks some document or object placed on the desk . The ‘digital camera’ is connected via the computer to the projector.
The end result at it’s simplest is that everyone in the class can see the document or object on the big screen!… in full colour (some models even do HD)!
Practical examples are showing and discussing with the class; pictures, text, assignment examples, any the detail in any small objects such as insects, flowers and leaves, letter arrangements for spelling – even football game plays. Your imagination is the limitation.
These devices are very portable and light and come with a whole of extra features and gizmos for getting sophisticated with your computer that I haven’t mentioned. Oh, I really should emphasise that although there are some really special things you can do with a document camera and a SMART Board combination and you don’t need a SMART Board or Interactive whiteboard to make great use of a document camera! Set up is really simple and there is hardly any ‘assumed technical knowledge’ needed (unlike a Smart board!)
I suppose one of the reasons that schools have tended not to think of them as a first port of call is that they used to be very expensive for what you got but that is way back in the past now. These days you can easily obtain a super document camera for as little as $400 (or even less I’m told!). If I have perked your interest then just Google ‘document camera’.
One companies’ website you might like to look at is Document Camera Experts. They have a huge amount of text and video material explaining document cameras in the classroom and give a good sampling of pricing and what is available.
If you haven’t looked into document cameras recently and you already have a projector in the classroom then you really should take a few moments to update yourself.
I Promise you, you won’t be disappointed!
..you might even want think about growing tomatoes next year and entering them in the local competition!