Document cameras—sometimes called visual presenters—are among the most exciting current technologies available to assist teachers in presenting formal or informal lessons. These devices can take the place of overhead projectors. They offer an array of helpful functions and features—and should be found on every teacher’s desk in every classroom.
Document cameras basically place a digital camera on some kind of stand. Some have bendable goosenecks, some have mechanical arms, and some have a platform. Generally, the first two types are the most portable and the least expensive.
These "cameras" can be used with a projector, but they are generally most useful when attached to a computer and a projector or whiteboard. Document cameras can be used to display prepared papers, photographs, or a blank sheet of paper used as a blackboard replacement. Newspapers, magazines, and most books can be displayed so that all students can see the same thing at the same time. The images or objects can be magnified. Even transparences and microscope slides can be shown, usually with an adapter.
Two- or three-dimensional still or moving objects can also be displayed with a document camera. Living creatures can be displayed; objects that are too large can by shown by turning the camera head and showing a view from the side.
Most document cameras can take digital photographs that save in a variety of formats to USB flash drives, CDs, DVDs, or classroom computers. Some of the devices can make video and audio recordings as well.
This article takes a look at examples of document camera technology offered by a variety of companies. Keep in mind that this information is not intended to provide a detailed review of these devices. There are certainly many more models and companies producing document cameras than those mentioned here.
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