My school has several document cameras, in the care of the librarian. To use one, a teacher has to go ask to sign one out. They don’t seem to be very popular, so I went and signed one out on the 10th.
For those of you who don’t know, a document camera is like a web cam on a flexible support, that you aim downward at the desk where your document is. If you are hooked to a projector, you can then project the image of the document onto a screen. So basically, it is an overhead projector, but it is much smaller and lighter and you can lock it in a drawer when you aren’t using it. Here is one:
I wish I had figured this out the FIRST week of school, when I was teaching Physics 1 students how to draw a best-fit line on their graphs of their data. It would have been much easier than what I resorted to, which was drawing a grid, line-by-line, on my whiteboard. My first choice would have been to use the “smart” board but that was about the same time as the computer meltdown and I didn’t have all the software back on my machine yet.
What I did with the document camera was put a lab report by one of my AP students under the camera, and projected THAT on the “smart” board, where I could write all over it without actually writing on the paper! And we were able to discuss things like error bars on graphs while I added them to the graph in question, and I could go up to the “smart” board and scribble out the phrase I abhor: “human error.”
I am hoping to get a fair amount of use out of this thing, especially when I have an uncooperative paper document that I don’t have time to scan or which for one reason or another I can’t project any other way. Plus, I may be able to use it to show small things happening on the desktop that would otherwise be difficult to show to an entire class all at once. I am looking forward to seeing what else this is good for!
Do you use a document camera? How?