Document cameras are becoming more and more prevalent in K-12 classrooms, but how can we be sure that we are truly using them to their full potential, and not just as a really fancy overhead projector? Well, the iCafe team has a few ideas, and hopefully with this post, we can give you a few more tools and ideas on how you can use these clever gadgets in a meaningful and engaging way everyday in your classroom!

Why a document camera is not just an overhead projector:

This one is pretty obvious, but it’s important to understand why they are different so that you won’t try and use them the same! An overhead projector basically just uses a bright light to cast shadows up on a screen. A document camera takes a real time image and projects it to a digital screen, in full color…anything…showing depth, shape, and perspective.  It even works as an outstanding “Oblivious Cam”, focusing it in on one of your unsuspecting students that aren’t paying 100%, just like at Rockets games!

What can you use it to do?

As the teacher, you can easily demonstrate a number of different activities with your students:

  • Science experiments and dissections
  • Model concepts in math using manipulatives
  • Magnify tiny insects with the camera’s zoom
  • Display items too fragile to pass around
  • Show how to use calculators, iPods, and other small gadgets

And for writing, it’s perfect because you can highlight text on the page, and it’s shown in real color on the screen!

The document camera has additional features that you won’t find with the old overhead projector.  Use the split screen/picture in picture option for comparison activities or to show a writing sample next to the scoring rubric.  You can even set the camera up to take time lapse pictures of a process such as an egg hatching or a frozen bottle of water thawing, which can be pretty boring if you have to sit and do it yourself.  And all of these are ideas that YOU can do…think of the possibilities in bringing students up to use the document camera!

These examples are just a start.  If you can get your hands on one, do, and let the fun begin!  Already have one and need some tutorials to learn about the features mentioned above?  Click here!