How to Use a Document Camera in the Classroom and Online

In 2020, teachers all around the United States faced challenges, both inside and outside the classroom environment. Furthermore, teachers had to hold classes inside the classroom and outside the classroom using new technology all at the same time. There is a shining light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Teachers have been using document cameras for close to a decade, and they are well-known pieces of technology within the learning community. In this particular case, we take document cameras and pair it with the new technology of both classroom and remote learning. Below we have outlined the various tips and tricks on using a document camera both inside and outside the classroom.

Why do You Need a Document Camera for in the Classroom?

Do you remember the old days of school where the teacher had an overhead projector and transparencies? Then there were those awesome special pens you had to use on the transparencies. I cannot tell you how many different times my teachers used the wrong pens! Anyway, a document camera is simply the modern-day overhead projector.

Teachers who use document cameras now do so by connecting the camera to the screen at the front of the class to display and share what the camera is focusing on. This focus can be on objects, papers, math problems, or to show off cool objects. It is a great tool for students who learn better visually. The teacher can show how to do something on a large scale for the whole class.

How Does a Doc Camera Work?

Many of the different cameras available on the market now are wireless models. It makes it easier for the teacher to connect the document camera to the classroom projector. You can place most items under a connected camera and project onto the screen to show an image or other objects. Some document cameras can even be connected to the digital calculator for complex formulas that students may find difficult to navigate.

Essentially, the document camera is a digital way to show and help kids in your class grasp various ideas by being visually engaged.

How to Use a Document Camera in the Classroom

document camera for classroom

The type of document camera you have in the classroom will depend on how it is used. Primarily, ensure that the camera is appropriately connected to either the computer or the projector by wifi or cable. Also, make sure there is enough light source either in the room or on the camera to display properly. Depending on what you’re teaching, check out the tips below for ideas on how to use this to serve students.

1 . English 

Document cameras can be an English teacher’s best friend when breaking down the text into small pieces for analysis. Maybe students have an assignment where they need help annotating text. Possibly students are struggling to analyze a Shakespeare poem, and with the camera, you can read a line at a time, and students can follow along that way.

2 . Science

Showing students how to complete a science project or help them understand a concept by breaking it down through the document camera. Potentially show student work as great examples or allow students to work through a science worksheet by looking at the classroom screen.

How cool would it be to be able to show your class how to build that bubbling volcano from a document camera? Boring objects and experiments can become engaging materials when everyone has an opportunity to be engaged.

3 . Math

How many kids have trouble with word problems? Sometimes it helps to read the problem together, but it is even better to read it while looking at the problem and breaking it down. What seems like an easy math problem may be way difficult for some. Displaying a math problem and working through it slowly with that doc camera is beneficial to students.

Can You Use a Doc Cam on Zoom?

One of the cool things about using this video platform is that you don’t need a physical document camera to project what you need to teach! With Zoom, you can share your screen from your phone or your school laptop. In this particular case, your document camera is your computer or your phone.

When logged into the video chat, click on the “share screen” button.

zoom share screen button

Choose which window you want to display to your students. In this particular case, if your laptop is also connected to the projector, you can teach students in class and virtually at the same time. This is, by far, one of the best ways to teach students online.

How to Use a Document Camera for Remote Learning

As just mentioned above, video chat platforms such as Zoom combined with document cameras allow the teacher to share their screen with the entire class. This could be sharing an image, a video, or an object with the class. Furthermore, you can record your lesson and upload it for your virtual students.

I often record my lessons in my virtual classes, walking my class through step by step, recorded assignment orders. Using your computer as your document camera and record lessons allow for students in the class who have not been able to participate during the live lesson the same opportunity as students who were.

Final Thoughts

The technology that comes with a doc cam can be a bit overwhelming at first. For example, you need to learn how to use autofocus and making sure there is enough light. However, learning how to use this device and display either live or digital images allows students different ways to learn at their very best. Document cameras help students both inside and outside the classroom in many different ways.



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