Tag Archive for elmo

Document cameras not for everyone


Should document cameras be ubiquitous in the classroom? A colleague pointed me to the following article, to which I penned this response.

I take away three significant uses of document cameras:

  • Magnification: in classes that work frequently with very small objects, a document camera may show more detail/be more convenient than simply passing the object around the class.
  • Sharing student work: in classes that frequently share student handwritten/drawn work, a document camera may increase the convenience of making the work of an individual student visible to the entire group.
  • Manual manipulation: you can project a piece of work as you draw on it.

Playing devil’s advocate, a document camera would provide little advantage in the following situations:

  • The class shares objects of larger size (can be easily seen or too large to fit under the camera).
  • Holding the object, not just seeing it, has high pedagogical value.
  • Students complete work to share with small groups, the teacher, parents, or themselves, not the entire class at once.
  • The teacher doesn’t spend much time teaching from the front of the class.
  • The teacher prioritizes aural or text-based instruction over visual.
  • The class is primarily organized around student-led projects.
  • The depth of the object is important (3D vs. 2D).
  • The classroom is physically organized around “activity centers.”

I guess I find document cameras a good fit for the teacher-directed or whole-group classroom, not for the project-based, small-group, or student-directed classroom. Your thoughts?