Friday, July 8, 2011

Technology Conference Week: Dynamic Document Cameras

I LOVE my document camera! It has changed the way I work with students in my classroom.  I'm no longer putting my back to them to write on the board (or not often) and I no longer have to worry about troubles with my overhead projector.

My set-up isn't ideal - but it is better than nothing.  I have the document camera connected to a computer which is then connected to a 42" TV that is mounted to the wall, up near the ceiling.

I've been able to set up my room so that when I use the camera I am facing the students.  This allows me to be monitoring comprehension as well as behavior during a lesson.  Also, since I am sitting at a desk as well, students have said they feel less "threatened" and more like we are simply having a conversation.  I made a point this year to have the same notebooks as the students (I teach 4th grade.)  So when it was math time, we all had math notebooks - they could see my notebook under the camera - or the textbook, or manipulatives.

In the session I attended about the document camera, I learned some interesting things! I can't wait to get back to school to try them out.  Here they are, in list form, as I noted them.
  • Use both the USB and Serial cable to connect the camera.  Connect the USB directly to the computer and the Serial to the switcher that controls the computer/TV.  This way if the computer is in use, the document camera can still be used.  (Super! I had problems with that this past year.)
  • Video capture mode will capture audio as well if a mic is connected to the computer.
  • Use Image Capture to save an image of an item. Then save that item and use it on assessments - what an authentic assessment that would be!
  • There is a "time lapse" feature in the Advanced Settings-Capture menu.  This would be useful over the course of a day or even overnight (if you can be assured the computer will be left alone.)
There is now a flash interface that will allow the document camera to be controlled from within a program like the Smart Notebook (that is my understanding.) I am extra excited to try this out.  We don't have Smart software but we have software and tablets from Interwrite.

Do you have a document camera?  How do you use it?  I'm always looking for new ideas!

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