When you are delivering lessons virtually, it’s vital to keep students engaged. You may think that keeping students engaged when they only see you on a screen is more difficult. In fact, the opposite can be true, as you’ll see. In this article we go over no less than 10 ways to use a document camera for distance learning so that you can keep your students learning and fully engaged.
Advantages of Using a Document Camera for Distance Learning
The biggest advantage that document cameras have as a tool for distance learning is that they help students feel as if they’re in the room with you.
The other advantage is that a document camera allows you to use real documents live with your students. This can mean more freedom and creativity for you, once you get set up.
Think of a document camera as the modern equivalent to an overhead projector, but with no need for turning out lights or creating endless transparencies. The camera sits on your desk or table and points downward toward a document or other object that you can show to your student.
You can do annotations and modeling in real time. There is enough room between the camera (which is usually up on an arm) and your desk so that you can work underneath it.
You can easily incorporate objects into your lesson, because students will be able to see them, even in their finest detail. Test tubes, topical maps, flashcards, petri dishes, math graphs etc. can all be shared live over a remote internet connection.
Document cameras are easy to use, and your students will really benefit.
Let’s look at our top 10 ways to use a document camera for distance learning.
How to use a Document Camera for Distance Learning?
1. Read texts together
Any printed material can be placed under the document camera. Fine print books, worksheets, anything goes.
You can read to your students, or get them to take turns reading to you. Anything you would normally do with a text in a classroom you can do here.
2. Make notes together
You can model for your students how to make notes or annotate a piece of writing.
Students can also send their work to you for you to then share in a following lesson for live feedback.
3. Do some brainstorming sessions
Document cameras are great for brainstorming around a topic: put a blank piece of paper underneath the camera, and make notes as students come up with ideas.
You could create a mind map together as a springboard for a discussion on social issues, for instance.
4. Do live demonstrations for students
Any kind of live demonstration is possible here. You can show students how to do an assignment that they can then do at home, such as a science experiment using materials found in the home (the vinegar and baking soda volcano, for example!)
Students can then film their experiments on their phones and send them back to you for comment or to share them in the next lesson. Because your document camera will be connected to your computer, you’ll be able to upload and share student footage easily for everyone to see.
5. Share science up close
If you usually teach using a microscope, you can get a document camera that connects to your microscope. You can then show your students what’s happening under the microscope.
You can share the details of a leaf, pond water life, onion skin cells – anything you would normally show a class under a microscope can work here.
6. Model math operations
You can model how to work out equations in real time for your students to then copy or solve themselves.
You can also create a pattern – a geometrical shape, a puzzle, anything – for your students to solve.
It’s easy to share handwritten math and science formulas live with your document camera.
7. Provide virtual instrument training, or virtual art lessons
The document camera can allow you to provide virtual music lessons for large groups of students. Place the camera over your instrument, and you can show fingering and other details quite easily.
Students can set up their monitors so that they can see what you’re doing and copy on their own instruments.
As with musical instruments, you can demonstrate art techniques using your document camera, such as painting, weaving, drawing – anything is possible.
8. Go over tests or essays together
It’s easy to go over written work together. Have your students send you their work, and place an essay, a test, or something else under the camera. You can ask the students how they would correct or answer the questions, and then demonstrate the answers.
No more need to provide 30 copies of a test or quiz: you can use white paper to put one copy under the document camera, and that’s it! Students can then correct their answers themselves when you display the answer key.
9. Play games
Games are easy to play with a document camera. You could show a small part of a picture and have students guess what it is. Or draw part of a graph or diagram and get students to copy it at home and complete it.
You could test students’ knowledge with flashcards: show a flashcard with a question or phrase and have students answer live.
10. Show objects that stimulate a discussion
Show your students an object that might get them talking about a topic you are covering. For example, the striations in a rock to talk about the earth’s crust. A piece of seaweed to talk about the ocean or the tides. A picture of a famous painting to talk about a particular painting style or technique.
Top Recommended Document Camera for Distance Learning
Looking for an awesome doc cam for distance learning? Our #1 recommendation goes to:
- Great for livestreaming. Perfect for zoom or other meeting / teaching platforms.
- Download free Visualizer software which allows you to use this camera like a webcam.
- Record and Store HD Video.
- Easy to connect to a TV or a projector.
- Compatible with all major operating systems, including Mac, PC and Chromebook.
See our full review of the Ipevo VZ-R as well as a detailed list of the 5 best document cameras for distance learning here!
Conclusion – 10 Ways to Use a Document Camera for Distance Learning
As you can see, not only does a document camera save you time, but it provides lots of possibilities for effective distance learning.
Your students can learn right along with you, whether they’re on holiday or in their hometown, no matter where they are in the world.
Hopefully this article has inspired you to get a document camera, and get into distance learning, knowing that you can provide a lot for your students.