I recently had a sales person try to convince me of the benefits of a document camera, and all I could think was that it’s like trying to sell a fax machine to Google.
Let’s be clear here – document cameras are a dying technology. In marketing it’s called the “Decline Stage” where companies are getting close to having a giant clearance sale because they know they’re going out of business.
Even in the last year I’ve seen prices drop significantly, but let’s check out some prices just for the heck of it:
The first one is your standard cheap-o brand. It’s got pretty good reviews, costs about 100 bucks, and is likely the one that teachers buy for themselves because their school or district isn’t going to buy anything for them.
The second one is from Epson. Note that as soon as you get into a brand name the price shoots up significantly – It’s about $340. But hey – free shipping if you’ve got Amazon prime!
The third and fourth ones are from Elmo. Many teachers don’t even know what I’m talking about when I say “Document Camera” because they associate the idea with Elmo. Much like Kleenex instead of a tissue, Elmo is the document camera to have. Here we start at $370 and if you look it up on Google Shopping you can see that the prices easily move into the thousands of dollars (!!!).
Did you know that the iPad line starts at $299?
The iPad also has a camera.
…and about a million other things you can do with it.
How I turned my iPad into a document camera:
First things first: You’re going to need a mount. The one that I used is an off-brand gooseneck mount:
(click to go to Amazon page)
It’s easy to install, just be careful that the clamps don’t cover the camera on your iPad.
Next up, you need to connect your iPad to a projector, which I’ve taught you how to do in previous posts:
Finally, you need Skitch:
Skitch is a great way to mark up documents, pictures, etc simply and easily. It’s part of Evernote, so if you link it to your Evernote account it’s even more useful.
In addition to taking pictures of documents, you can adjust the angle of the mount to show close ups of Lab experiments, show & tell activities, and anything else your brain can think of – and it can think of A LOT!
iPad + Mount + Skitch = Your new document camera!
So if your school administrator is thinking about investing in new document cameras, make sure they see this post first! They’ll be wasting their money and robbing you of the opportunity to really create a great learning environment with a TON of versatility.
Have you set up something like this in your classroom? How has it worked for you? Let me know in the comments!
(Photo from Dubsar)