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Best in Tech 2009: Document Cameras

By Ken Royal | September/October 2009

Document Cameras
Visualize the interactive classroom possibilities

The document camera may be the easiest technology to integrate into the classroom since the chalkboard. Our technology experts reviewed a good sampling for you from this competitive education marketplace. See our Feature Checklist for quick comparisons. You will note three additional companies listed there: Ken-A-Vision and Dukane, two elders in presentation technology; and Califone, with its Diggiditto—the youngest entry, released in August 2009. Deals can certainly be made, so ask for education pricing. Document cameras are a great way to start, or add to your district’s interactive classroom plans.--Ken Royal

Qomo QD1200
Our Goal: To find the most user-friendly document camera for teachers’ everyday use.

The Response: Teachers say it has improved the way their students learn.

Why Qomo? We chose full-size cameras instead of portables because of the built-in switching and scaling functions and lower cabling costs.

How We Use It: We use them in over 340 classrooms—in English classes for scrolling documents, and in science for dissection labs.

What’s Next: We hope to increase interactivity by adding interactive whiteboards to the document cameras.
—Luann Murphy


AVerMedia CP300 and SPC300
Our Goal: To provide clearer images of teaching resources for whole-class demonstrations and to capture annotations and student work for conferences, growth over time, and professional learning.

Why We Like It: When it’s paired with a digital projector, there are more opportunities for spontaneity with resources and a higher use of visual models. The recording capabilities allow educators to model for professional development.

Best Feature: AVerMedia support and training is invaluable to new users.

Usage: This is a vital tool for many of our teachers, and use is widespread in our district.

What’s Next: We plan to purchase more, and will focus on the specific instructional strategies. —Ivan Duran

Epson DC-10
Our Goal: While whiteboards are a really cool tool, we had some issues with them interrupting the flow of learning — computers freezing; network loss; calibration problems; and shorter students couldn’t reach the displays. So we decided to focus on equipping classrooms with document cameras instead.

The Response: We purchased a few, but before long, all teachers wanted a document camera. Students were motivated by the interactivity. It became evident that this was a tool worth pursuing. Our PTA began raising money to purchase document cameras for each of our classrooms.

How Teachers Use It: They share student work, display books, text, or objects for scientific study. Since video capture was not a high need, we found the Epson DC-10 right for the job, and at a third of the cost of higher-end machines.

Why We Like It: The Epson DC-10 can display virtually anything that is placed under its lens—handwriting; intricate illustrations of the read-aloud book; sharp, clear color paintings. It can be used to display the page in the textbook, and can demonstrate origami folds or how to multiply fractions.

What’s Next: My hope is that all of our teachers will use the document camera not just as a glorified overhead projector, but as a truly interactive educational tool. —Rojanne Brown

Lumens PS600, DC260, and CS501
Our Goal: We wanted document­-camera implementation in all classrooms to reach the many students who are visual and tactile learners.

The Response: Teachers love using the document camera, because it makes the students pay attention and helps them understand the content.

How Teachers Use It: Math teachers use it to write out problems and solutions and to show 3-D objects; English teachers show student writing and share books for follow-alongs; and science teachers display microscope specimens on a large screen. Teachers use document cameras to capture and then upload images to the computer. They also use Lumens' free Queue software to annotate and incorporate their lessons on a whiteboard. 

What's Next: We will keep using the document cameras in all of our classrooms. We also see teachers creating lessons to share with other teachers. —Keoki Yee

Elmo TT-02
Our Goal: To keep students on task and engaged, and to spontaneously project an image without the need for copies.

How It Worked: The students love it. It assists reteaching lessons with a more effective delivery method. Struggling students are now enthusiastic about math by watching manipulatives come to life.  

Why We Like It: Students learned how to capture and save pictures, and how to project their math manipulatives in 3-D. Teachers met individual students' visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles. It's used in whole-group, small-group, and one-on-one teaching in all subject areas. It is used with whiteboards and in science with the microscope attachment.

What's Next: We will write grants for more cameras and training. —Star Rosario

Our Goal: We wanted a standardized document-camera model for all of our interactive classrooms.

The Response: Overwhelmingly positive! I've received numerous e-mails from teachers about their training and their SMART document cameras, especially for their ease of use and the power it's brought to their lessons.

How We Chose It: We did a side-by-side comparison "showdown" of three different document cameras. We tested everything from primary picture books, to calculus texts, to rocks and pinecones. At the end of the session, 100 percent of my teachers selected SMART.

How Teachers Use It: We project student samples, pages from a book for reading and illustration viewing, 3-D observations, show-and-tell, teacher art demos, and science experiments.

What's Next: We will continue with our seamless document camera integration with the SMART Boards and notebook software. —Jane Mintz

Samsung SDP-850DX
Our Goal: We needed affordable, dependable, and portable document cameras with multiple uses for K-12 classrooms, as well as vendor support.

The Response: Teachers appreciate the training they've received from Samsung. Student response has been positive, and administrators are happy with the savings.

Why We Like It: Good support is the key to strong implementation. Our Samsung representative regularly comes into our classrooms to work with teachers, giving demonstrations on how the document camera works, as well as ideas for how it can enhance learning.

How We Use It: It's used throughout the district for professional development and in classroom instruction.

What's Next: I hope to purchase one for each of our 900 classrooms. —Kari Rhame Murphy



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