Recording Lessons with a Document Camera

doccamYesterday I attended the RCET Conference in Springfield, MO. The session on using a document camera to record a lesson made the biggest impression. The Ozark and Independence School Districts are currently using AverVision Document Cameras in the classrooms with great success. Jamie Davis and Michelle Lindsey of Ozark Upper Elementary School shared some lessons recorded by their teachers, including Lattice Multiplication by Joanne Wood. These instructional videos are recorded during a class lesson, or during planning time, dependent on the situation and the teacher’s preferences. Using a wireless headset, Michelle demonstrated how easy it is to record a lesson with the AverVision 3 software. Jamie then imported the avi file into Windows Movie Maker to add a Title Slide and edit the recording as needed. Finally the project was exported as a wmv file and made available online through the building website. Jamie produced a tutorial video for the teachers on this process that you may want to view.

These videos are being used in several situations:

  • Substitute: for an anticipated absence, the teacher records the lesson and the sub presses play; a quality instructional lesson takes place even in the teacher’s absence.
  • Tutoring: in after school tutoring students use the videos for customized tutoring to suit their needs
  • Parents: parents can view tutorials to better assist their student with homework
  • Absent Students: students can review the lesson at home as needed
  • Teacher Tutorials: this was not mentioned in the presentation, but I could see our Instructional Specialists using it to record model lessons for our teachers to view

Additional features and applications were discussed including:

  • the ability to connect a microscope the document camera
  • the ability to capture an image of what the document camera is displaying and annotate it, then paste that annotated image elsewhere (document, webpage, etc)
  • sharing the document camera’s display across multiple classrooms/locations; students in Mrs. Brown’s class could see what Mrs. Arnall is displaying on her document camera; (could share audio via Skype or speaker phone)
  • rotate the camera to capture students during a class presentation; even if this is not recorded, it projects the presentation up on the wall and enables all students to better view the presenters.

I think I have previously underestimated the power of a document camera.  I can see how they could motivate and engage our students, as well as  build confidence.  Knowing that their work might be displayed, students will complete their assignments neatly, and even show their work on those math problems.  We learn best when we teach others. A document camera will result in more “teachers” in the classroom as students use it to present their projects or share their pictures from a trip to India. I like that both the teacher and the students can easily use this tool.

The simplicity of the document camera facilities easy adoption for teachers. It doesn’t require a lot of professional development or teacher preparation. It is not as intimidating as a SmartBoard, yet is a very powerful tool that can greatly impact teaching strategies and be used every day. At the AverMedia website, I read several  Case Studies and viewed some  Lesson Plans that mentioned that document cameras are being used to:

  • teach writing or when collaborating on a group writing project
  • read a picture book to the class
  • display background scenery for a student performance
  • demonstrate how to use a ruler, calculator, or protractor
  • demonstrate a chemical reaction
  • exam artifacts or examples, and sort samples
  • observe the behavior of meal worms
  • use math manipulatives to explain fractions
  • view printed pictures, maps, or diagrams

When considering Total Cost of Ownership, there is often a light bulb in the document camera that will eventually need replacing, but shouldn’t be a big expense. If you get a wireless headset,  it may use a battery (estimate $40).

I would definitely like to see more document cameras being used by our teachers. I think almost of all them would find them to be powerful instructional tools that they can use right out of the box.

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2 thoughts on “Recording Lessons with a Document Camera

  1. Okay, can I borrow your wireless headset or do you recommend something? I wasn’t at school today and I was going to look at all this and come over or have you come over. I am very excited to try this:)

  2. I don’t have a wireless headset. I used my Logitech headset, USB, plugged into the computer. The document camera was connected to this same computer, as well as a projector.

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