Recently, the Peel District School Board (my employer) tendered an RFP for a new supplier of Document Cameras, a technology gaining rapidly in popularity in classrooms across the District. As a new member of the Instructional Technology Resource Teacher’s team, I was called to a meeting with the Purchasing Department and the Audio- Visual Technician’s team to compare the submitted Vendors’ products. This was an excellent experience since we were able to evaluate the two products, compare features side-by-side, and learn about the present and future capabilities of this technology.
The Avermedia CP300 Portable Document Camera is one in the latest iterations of document cameras that are finding there way into everyday educational practice in classrooms. I had the good fortune of having a dedicated document camera in my classroom linked to an LCD projector and a networked computer. This combination of technology tools at the focus of the classroom began a revolution in teaching that is beginning to transform teaching and learning in the Middle School classroom. I cannot imagine teaching without one now.
This product was recently reviewed by the Media Technologies team in the school district where I am employed, as part of an RFP. The previous product tendered for schools, manufactured by another vendor, was also upgraded and submitted for consideration. Testing by the Media team determined that the Avermedia product outperformed its competitor supplying a sharper image, more standard features, more portability and also included new, advanced features that lend itself to leading edge use in the classrooms of today, and tomorrow.
Some of the camera’s outstanding features include the ability to: capture any image, project live or captured images through an LCD projector or via the Internet, to project 3-D objects in fine detail and to project images from a microscope, and, to annotate, record video, or save the images to a computer, SD card or USB device.
Numerous examples of applications of the technology and its connection to globalized education are available. Capturing student work for display in and beyond the classroom, video capture of the steps in an multi-step lesson and using the video in your own class and beyond, sharing work in real time or at a later date between collaborative groups using the network feature. Students can easily use the document camera to capture series of stop-motion still images when making paper or claymation animations. An excellent guide called “One Hundred one ways k-12 teachers use Document cameras” can be found on the Internet and has been distributed to teachers who have a camera in their classroom. Other guides are available on the Internet s well.
The product chosen by the School District is the AverMedia AverVision CP300 Portable Document Camera. With its lightweight, portable design using a gooseneck camera mount makes it the perfect choice for classroom use. The image quality out-performs other makes. It has built -in LED lighting and patented laser guides, which allow for easy locating of the subject to be imaged. It comes with a remote, which allows the instructor to be anywhere in the room while using all the features of the camera. The product, as tendered to the School Board (for a significant quantity of product), is priced at $CDN 579, and retails through the US based AverMedia Online Store for $US 699 per unit.
The camera requires a 120 V AC power outlet and proximity to an LCD projector and computer, for network connections. It is a good thing to have a seat near the camera, as teachers and students will often sit at the camera while demonstrating. Students enjoy coming up to the camera to show their solutions to Mathematics problems and are even more motivated when the teacher captures the steps in their solution for replaying to the class, or other students. Imagine having a Problem Solving challenge each day between the class and another one in the school, in the District, or elsewhere, then sharing solutions with the camera. Being able to show local, as well as distant solutions allows all learners to observe the steps in a solution at their own pace. These captures can be used as examples and placed on the Internet for students to view at their leisure.
This technology is leading edge and is an easily justifiable expense when one considers the increased learning that it promotes within and beyond the classroom.
Avermedia Technologies (2008). AverVision Document Camera 2008 Product Catalog. Miliptas, California.
101 Ways K-12 Teachers Use Document Cameras. Retrieved February 11, 2009 from ww.pnc.edu/ms/101%20Ways%20Teachers%20Use%20Document%20Cameras
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