I have a tendency to use digitized media for most of my teaching, so when I was asked to facilitate a hands-on session with the document camera, I had to go hunting a bit.  Not that I haven’t used them before, but I was sure I did not make good use of them in my teaching.  Showing a printout of department policy was about as far as I’d gotten.  So I took a brief walk around Google and found out that there are many interesting things to do with this device.  But be warned … I think there is a frog dissection somewhere in the links I’ve gathered – good use of the camera, but you don’t want to look at it just before lunch!

Overview

For those of you who are not familiar with the technology, it is essentially a digital camera mounted on a stand.  The camera is connected to an projector, which usually shows the image onto a screen or white board at the front of a classroom.  Additionally, they usually have light sources and various ways to adjust the zoom and focus of the camera to improve readability and allow the presenter some flexibility in where the camera points – which can lead to some fun in the classroom.

Ideas for its use

Since this is just a camera projecting its image, you can show students anything you have or do on your desk.  It can be used to show documents, if you don’t have them available digitally.  But it really shines in showing students your process in working through a task or problem of any sort.  It can be used by either the teacher or a student to show how something is done or to share work products.

Since the document camera has been around for a few years, teachers in both K-12 and higher education have posted their ideas for making creative use of the device.  A few of those are listed here to get your creative juices going.

Examples

This brief video shows a classroom using the ELMO camera to show the class the process of looking through an owl pellet.  This way, the teacher avoids students crowding around the demonstration, which of often leaves some students with poor sight lines and is disruptive while students move and return to their desks.

Lesson plans

If you keep in mind that anything you could do on your desk or would like to show to students might be a good candidate for the ELMO.  It is more than a document camera … any image or object will do!

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