Document Camera

What is it?

  • A document camera is a tool that basically connects a live camera to your LCD projector or computer.  Anything you put in front of the camera shows up on the screen.
What does it do?
  • At the simplest level, it is kind of like an overhead projector, except instead of shining light through a transparency, you are using a live video camera shot.
What do I do with it?
  • If you look at the links on the right side of the page, you will see dozens of uses for your document camera.
  • Start out by using it in all of the same ways that you might have used an overhead (write notes, draw diagrams, model solutions, etc.).
  • Share text and images with students (slide any book or text you're reading underneath it)
  • Let students use it to share or give/get feedback.
  • Start using your imagination (and check the lists to the right for ideas).

Connecting the Document Camera to your LCD Projector

1.  Connect the LCD projector to your document camera using the VGA cable.  Pay attention to where you plug it in to the LCD projector.  It should go into the Computer 1 or Computer 2.  It should not go into the VGA out port.

 VGA cable is the same on both ends.    The VGA ports on your document camera and on the LCD projector are the same.  Make sure that you plug in to the VGA out port on the document camera.  Make sure that you plug into the Computer 1 or 2 port and not the VGA out port.

Click on the image below to see a larger version and see where the connections need to go.
LCD Projector

Document Camera

2.  Plug the power cord into the document camera (green square below).
3.  Connect the VGA cable to the blue VGA out port (yellow square below).
4.  If you'd like to use the document camera in SmartNotebook, connect the square end of the USB cable to the USB port (red square below).

Video Issues

There can be a variety of issues getting the image from your document camera projected onto a screen or SmartBoard.  Check these things in order:
  • Ensure that the LCD and Document Camera are plugged in and the  the power is turned on (don't worry - we all make this mistake sometimes).
  • Ensure that you have the VGA cable plugged in to the Computer 1 or Computer 2 ports on the LCD and the VGA out on the Document Camera.
  • Ensure the VGA cable is inserted the proper way (you'll notice in the photo above that it is kind of trapezoid shaped).
  • Ensure that the Document Camera is set to use the Camera View.

  • Check to see if the video out function is working on your computer.  Usually this means pressing one of the function keys (F8, F5, etc.).  The correct key usually has CRT/LCD written on it and/or may look like one of the ones below.  You may also need to press the function button (usually Fn - on the bottom left side of the keyboard) at the same time (i.e. [Fn] + [F4]).
  • Check the source that the LCD is using.  Press the Source button on the LCD projector to check that it is using Computer 1 or Computer 2 as an input.
  • Ask a student to check things over.  Many students are accustomed to doing this at home or in different classrooms and may have more experience than you do.  Don't let them work on it for more than 3-5 minutes though.  If they haven't figured it out by then and you've followed all the steps above, get some help.

Saving Images

If you don't want to use the document camera with SmartNotebook, but want to save images of work that you capture with the document camera, the easiest way to do it is to use an SD card (similar to many used in digital cameras).

Simply insert an SD card into the slot on the side of the document camera and press the camera button to take a picture and save it directly to the SD card.

Top 7 Ways to Use a Document Camera

Source: I Want to Teach Forever


Top 7 Ways To Use A Document Camera In The Classroom

During our weekly professional development on Friday, I shared a list of the Top 7 Ways to Use A Document Camera In The Classroom with my colleagues. Now I'm happy to do the same with all of you. The model similar to what I've used for years and recommend is theAVerMedia AverVision 300AF+. Here we go!
  1. Provide Clarity - When you or your students are referring to a specific item in any document, book, or anything else that you can put under the camera, you can clearly show exactly what you (or they) are referring to. Zooming in and out, and repositioning the camera is easy.
  2. Read Aloud - When reading aloud as a whole class, you can show exactly what you're reading by putting the book under the DC. This helps reach learners who may have trouble staying engaged with a paper or book in front of them. More importantly, this is especially useful when you don't have enough copies of whatever you're reading.
  3. Aid 3D Visualization - By moving the camera around, you can look at three-dimensional items from different angles and perspectives in a way that all students can see. When studying questions on multiple perspectives of three-dimensional objects, I would use Jenga blocks and show top, side, front and angled views to mimic state test questions.
  4. As a Poor Man's Smartboard - Write on, annotate and manipulate items that are projected on to the board without actually marking them up, just as you would withsmartboard markers. I did this last summer in my Math & Website Design course.
  5. Make Your Tech Setup Simpler - Most DCs are set up to be hooked up to both a computer and projector for push-button switching. Show a slideshow or website, then switch to the camera to take notes or look at the related assignment.
  6. Save the Earth - Eliminate the need for transparencies and accessories that come with them (not to mention Expos and whiteboard materials since you'd likely need to write on the board less). You can use any paper to write on, so why not reuse all of those single-sided printouts you would otherwise discard? Then, you can still recycle them--sucessfully using all three Rs! They're also easier to save if you need to, and you can give them to students who need to see them after your lesson is over.
  7. Relocate for More Engagement - The DC setup allows you to away from the board, in the center of the room, facing your students. Your proximity and ability to see them more clearly will eliminate a lot of problems before they start. It may also be easier to get students to participate by having them come up to the camera instead of the board, both because of the location and the chance to play with cool technology. Most importantly, if you have even a half way decent LCD projector, it works better with the lights ON, so no more of the troubles you get from sitting in the dark.

Additional Resources

Subpages (1): SmartNotebook