Friday, February 1, 2013

Document Camera

Today was tech pd in our division.  This morning I was one of the presenters talking about ipads (I will share my presentation in another post).  This afternoon I learned about document cameras.  I happen to have one on "loan" in my classroom for the time being.  Many teachers in our school have them in their classrooms and our library has 5 (I believe) to borrow.

What inspired me to try a document camera?

Initially I wanted to scan some photos of my dad that were beautifully scrapbooked so that I could include them in my Shutterfly books I am creating for my children.  The first week I had it, I tried the scan option with no luck - my photos seemed to be of very poor quality once scanned.  Then it sat for a week or 2.  One day I got inspired to use it in a lesson.  I was literally "winging it" as it was a very last minute decision.  The lesson went well, but then when I wanted to capture my creation I realized I was in the wrong mode and could not take a picture of it.  I put it away again!  Finally today I learned the tricks and I think I am hooked!  

Our session went through all the bells and whistles of a document camera and basically explained all the features.    If you are familiar with a mimio board and its tool bar, then the document camera is very similar.  It was cool to see the record mode.  You can create videos of kids demonstrating a skill or of you teaching something, very cool.  The organization using folders is much like windows, so it's easy to use.  The scan option allows to to photograph items under the camera..... this is what I wanted to learn!!!!!  When I had the basics I went off to my room to "play"!

What did I discover...... I had been doing it right all those weeks ago! LOL! Scanning photos is a bit finicky!  If the lighting is not quite right, even excellent quality photos do not scan well.  That was my problem!  I had googled it weeks ago and it was recommended to scan under high florescent lighting with the document camera light off, but even that was not perfect.  Today I played just a little bit more and the trick to a good scan is moving the top of the camera lower so it is much closer to the picture.  The picture also needs to be perfectly flat.  (A little sticky tack helped!)  Even a slight bend catches and reflects that florescent lighting and puts glares on the photos.   I also discovered glossy prints do not scan nearly as well as matte.

Here is what it looked like when I was scanning.......

And here is what the camera normally looks like when it is not being used to scan photos.
In 30 minutes or less I scanned about 25 photos out of my albums or photos I had loose and even had them uploaded to my Shutterfly account.

I must admit I am a little worried about the resolution, they uploaded really quick which leads me to believe they might be a very small file size.  I'll let you know how that works out when I find time to make the books!

For now I am eager to plan some lessons using the document camera..... I am thinking some estimating might be a great start!

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