What is a document camera?

A doc­u­ment cam­era is a real-time image cap­tur­ing device that, when con­nect­ed to a pro­jec­tor or dig­i­tal dis­play, can show videos or still pho­tos of objects and doc­u­ments for a large group of peo­ple to see. Doc­u­ment cam­eras can of course be used to dis­play doc­u­ments, but some doc cams can also show micro­scope sam­ples, be used as web­cams, and record audio and video.

How do I use a document camera?

The great­est ben­e­fit of doc­u­ment cam­eras is the abil­i­ty to give a close-up view of small objects and doc­u­ments to an entire class­room. A sin­gle doc cam can save thou­sands of pages of paper in a year (no need to make copies for every stu­dent!) and can even help you save mon­ey on text­books and oth­er class mate­ri­als.

Here are ten thought­ful ways to apply doc­u­ment cam­eras in your class­room and make lessons more engag­ing, inter­ac­tive, and mem­o­rable.

1. Zoom in on objects and specimens.

Whether you’re show­ing your class how a cir­cuit board works or observ­ing an insect, a doc­u­ment cam­era with opti­cal zoom allows every­one present to see the most intri­cate aspects of your sub­ject in per­fect detail. For sci­ence class you can even use a doc­u­ment cam­era that con­nects to a micro­scope to show your class real-time video or still pho­tos of sam­ples, and lead a dis­cus­sion about what you’re observ­ing.

2. Read between the lines.

Doc­u­ment cam­eras are per­fect for group lit­er­ary analy­sis. A doc­u­ment cam­era with anno­ta­tion soft­ware will let you high­light impor­tant pas­sages and make anno­ta­tions direct­ly over books and doc­u­ments. Doc cams with text opti­miza­tion will make print clear, high con­trast, and easy to read. You can also use your doc­u­ment cam­era to dis­play group dis­cus­sion ques­tions and use the anno­ta­tion fea­ture to write down answers from stu­dents. Want to share an expen­sive or rare text with your class? With a doc cam, you only need one copy!

3. Record and share lessons.

Some doc­u­ments have video record­ing capa­bil­i­ty. With a doc­u­ment cam­era that can record audio and video, you can save an entire les­son about your doc­u­ment, object, or spec­i­men to the doc cam’s inter­nal mem­o­ry, your com­put­er, or an SD card. You can then share record­ed lessons with absent stu­dents, with your col­leagues, or even on YouTube.

4. Get students involved.

If you’re using a doc­u­ment cam­era with a remote con­trol, you can pass the remote around the class and allow stu­dents to zoom in on details at will. Stu­dents can come up to the cam­era and write answers, han­dle objects or spec­i­mens, or give a pre­sen­ta­tion, in view of every­one in the room.

5. Host interesting visitors.

Some doc­u­ment cam­eras can also serve as web­cams. Using Skype, Google Meet, or anoth­er video chat appli­ca­tion, you can hold a Q&A between your stu­dents and speak­ers from around the world. Com­bined with an inter­ac­tive dis­play or pro­jec­tor, it’ll almost be like your guest is in the room.

6. Help note takers catch up.

A doc­u­ment cam­era with split screen capa­bil­i­ties will allow you to show live video on one side of the screen and a still image on the oth­er. This can be a big help for slow writ­ers tak­ing notes in class. After you’ve anno­tat­ed over a doc­u­ment or demon­strat­ed a math prob­lem, you can take a screen­shot and dis­play it on one side of the screen, then con­tin­ue work­ing on the oth­er side.

7. Manage your classroom.

A doc­u­ment cam­era is per­fect for dis­play­ing a list of rules, dai­ly tasks, or top­ics of the day to your entire class with­out hav­ing to pass out indi­vid­ual papers. You can even use it to dis­play quiz ques­tions, and then an answer sheet after a quiz, free­ing you to work on the next task instead of read­ing answers out loud.

8. Enhance demonstrations.

Doc­u­ment cam­eras are ide­al for art class, home eco­nom­ics, shop, or any oth­er class where you want to demon­strate tech­niques to an entire room. Trade schools often use doc­u­ment cam­eras to demon­strate car mechan­ics, elec­tri­cal projects, and oth­er hands-on skills. You can even record and play back video from an ear­li­er ses­sion. Stu­dents can come up to the cam­era, dis­play their own work, and dis­cuss their process with the class.

9. Make time to play.

Play­ing a game with your stu­dents? With a doc cam, you can dis­play print­ed rules, dice rolls, hour­glass­es, game boards, and cards on a big class­room dis­play or pro­jec­tor. Whether you’re play­ing hang­man, bin­go, or a board game, you can do it all with a doc­u­ment cam­era.

10. Replace your scanner.

A doc­u­ment cam­era with image cap­ture can com­plete­ly replace your class­room scan­ner. You can scan book pages, home­work assign­ments, class notes, or any­thing else you can imag­ine into a dig­i­tal copy that can be saved and shared online. Some scan­ner doc­u­ment cam­eras are even portable, so you can pack them up and take them home with your lap­top! A doc­u­ment cam­era is less expen­sive than a smart­phone and many hand­held dig­i­tal cam­eras.

QOMO flexible gooseneck camera illuminating an object

Doc­u­ment cam­eras are incred­i­bly ver­sa­tile class­room tools. They come in a vari­ety of price ranges, so you’re sure to find one with­in your bud­get. Not sure what kind of doc­u­ment cam­era you need for your class­room? Just send us an email or use our Qus­tomer Qare chat!

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