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Document Camera!

September 19, 2010

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?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Greg permalink
    September 22, 2010 9:45 AM

    Actually, it’s interesting to think of the possibilities, since with the combination of this and the smartboard you could co-opt the camera, point it at any lab demonstration, and mark-up the demo, Madden-style.

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