Classroom document cameras are the perfect tool for sharing 3D objects, images, maps, text and a host of other "real" life objects with a class. Students can see and interact with learning objects, making it easier to integrate the object into their body of knowledge.
Document cameras are perfect for;
- Show and tell,
- Working with math manipulatives, or
- Demonstrating a complex science experiment.
The items on display can be projected onto any screen and shown in greater or less detail via 'Zoom IN' or 'Zoom OUT' to display the object to the entire class in detail. You can 'Capture' and 'Store' images of any displayed object for future reference.
These are some of the possible uses for a document camera that we have come across:
- Model a process for students
- Share student work without having to recopy
- Show solutions to math problems while discussing with students
- Share illustrations and maps to support visual learners
- Work with math manipulative
- Demonstrate how to use a calculator, GPS, cell phone or other device
- Examine 3D objects like plants, ant farms, and leaves
- Demonstrate science experiments
- Discuss newspaper articles.
Document cameras can vary widely in price from a few $00 to well over $10,000. When selecting a document camera you should bear in mind the application you will probably be using the camera for and avoid paying for features that you might not need or ever use.
Look for these features;
As with projectors, resolution is just the number of pixels that the camera can display (just like your digital camera). Look for a resolution of at least 850,000 pixels (1024x768).
The depth of field for the camera's optics will determine the focus of a deep object from the front to the rear and is a sign of a good quality lens system - and price. There is a very clear balance between the quality of the lens and the price.
Look for both an 'optical' zoom and a 'digital' zoom feature. The optical zoom makes objects appear closer by means of actual lens optics and so has potentially better image quality. Digital Zoom makes the object 'appear' closer using computer wizardry but cannot change the quality of the image.
A good classroom Zoom feature would be 5x optical and 8x digital (making a total possible Zoom of 5x8 = 40).
Compatibility with other products used in the classroom.
Some document cameras are seamlessly compatible with the classroom interactive white board as in the case of the SMART Board and their own document camera.
Software provided with document cameras can be wildly different and make the camera more or less convenient to use on the fly by yourself and your students. Some document cameras are seamlessly compatible with the classroom interactive white board as in the case of the SMART Board and their own document camera.
Ensure that the output of the document camera is compatible with your PC. Some document cameras have on-board memory storage. Is the camera connected to your PC via a USB port? Does the camera need to handle composite video?