Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Document Camera Heaven

I have had a document camera in my classroom for about 2 years now and I love it. I like to use it especially to take up homework where I collect a sample of student work to put under the camera and then annotate using the IWB (you can see how the St. Joseph's Math Dept uses one in their department in the November issue of eNTRY Points).
Up until now the price point has been a little prohibitive. A lot of schools have the Elmo and the one I have in my classroom is made by Aver Media. These cameras can cost in the $500-$700 range. I have seen some cheaper cameras and been consistently disappointed with how they worked in practice. I general I have preached that you get what you pay for with document cameras.
However, my tune is changing a bit with my new portable document camera. It's made by Ipevo and can be purchased in Canada for $100+Shipping. I was introduced to this camera by Marian Small who uses it in her talks about using manipulatives for math. I was skeptical but the price point was low enough to try it out. I ordered it on a Sunday night and I had it on my desk by Tuesday shipped for about $100.
This is a screenshot of my desktop
It has resolutions up to 1600x1200, takes screen shots (see the image of my desktop to the right), has adjustable zoom, focus and exposure. It is small enough to fit in a large pencil case (in fact, I bought a pencil case at the Dollar Store to carry it around in) and is super easy to use. The software has a very small digital footprint and it requires no power as it gets that from the USB connection.
There are only two downsides that I can see.
1) The field of view is small. Its about the size of an iPad screen so if you want to make that a bit bigger you need to prop it up on a book.
2) The software does not record video. This actually isn't much of an issue as you can use other free software to do that. On a PC a good choice is Picasa and on a Mac you can just record with Quicktime as I did with the video below.

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