I can’t see back here! Using a visualiser or document camera in the classroom

A visualiser (sometimes called a document camera) lets a teacher display something small to a whole class via a PC and projector.  This means that a teacher can demonstrate to a whole class something which would be difficult to show to a whole class without the whole class gathered round a table vying for space to see the demonstration.  A visualiser provides a means to take a piece of work from a pupil and immediately show it to a whole class, perhaps highlighting particular features or small details of the work.

In addition to simply creating an enlarged view of any object, visualiser software also enables a teacher to take snapshot pictures of whatever features may wish to be highlighted for later viewing or sharing elsewhere.  Video recordings of the activity or process involved in creating or changing a piece of work can also be made for replaying as required.  These videos can be replayed via the PC or on interactive whiteboard or embedded on a website or blog.

A tablet/iPad connected either by cable or wirelessly to a projector or digital screen can also be used in place of a visualiser where the camera of the iPad/tablet can be used to view the object. Specific apps can also add functionality to the straightforward camera, such as giving markup or recording options. Click on this link to a blogpost by Tony Vincent with some suggestions about using a tablet/iPad as a visualiser

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The following provides examples of visualisers – there are numerous makes and models available – the notes here give an idea of what kind of considerations to take into account once you’ve decided on why you wish to have a visualiser.

The TTS Easi-View visualiser combines an ease of use with a price within reach of primary schools.  It can be used with an interactive whiteboard, you can view documents (pupil work or books), share work with the rest of the class, and pupils can use it to let the whole class see small objects brought in for show-and-tell activities.  When combined with a laptop and projector at whole-school assemblies it can be used to ensure everyone can see details of small objects.  The picture snapshot or video recording tool provides a means to create portfolios for evidence of learning.  When combined with stop-motion animation software it can be used to create stopframe animations. Note that less expensive visualisers generally have poorer resolution and refresh rate than more expensive models, meaning that images will be less crisp, and movement of objects will be slightly blurred in comparison to more expensive visualisers. It would always be wise to think about the purpose to which the tool will be put and comparison made to ensure the chosen device will meet the need.

The video below is a demonstration of the TTS Easi-View visualiser:


Ipevo produce a range of document cameras/visualisers as well as software for computer and app for mobile tablets.



Click on the link below for a video from Teachers.TV about the benefits of using a visualiser with primary pupils, along with useful tips and resources:


Click on the link below for one teacher’s view of the use of a visualiser in a classroom (this mentions both SMART and Avermedia visualisers but the views are applicable to other visualisers):


Click on the link below to read an account by Dughall McCormick about using a Visualiser in the Primary Classroom:

Click on the link below for information from Hertfordshire Grid for Learning on the use of visualisers in the classroom:


Click on the link below for over 100 ideas collected from many teachers of ways to use a visualiser or document camera in the classroom:

Click on the link below for some stage-specific ideas for using visualisers in the classroom:
100 ways to use a visualiser in the classroomhttp://www.edtechnetwork.com/document_cameras.html

Click on the link below for the Wikipedia entry on visualisers which contains links to various uses to consider for the classroom as well as other useful resources:


http://cybraryman.com/documentcameras.html – Jerry Blumengarten’s Cybraryman links to a wide range of resources to support the use of visualisers/document cameras in the classroom.

https://docs.google.com/present/view?id=dhn2vcv5_357zsk34mc6 Interesting Ways to use a visualiser – ideas collated by Tom Barrett

Elmo Classroom Solutions provide details of their range of visulaisers as well as lesson ideas and case studies of the use of visualisers in classrooms.

@eherreid #LiveBinder on Document Cameras filled with lots of resources – http://bit.ly/hadYX0

http://www.visualiserforum.co.uk/ The visualiser forum provides links to resources including lesson plans for using a visualiser across the curriculum.

The Educational Technology Network has a post on Document Cameras which lists various ways a visualiser (document camera) can be used across the curriculum, grouped in different ages and stages.

The visualiser also serves as a webcam which can be used for video-conferencing.  Click here for Interesting Ways, and Tips, to use Web Conferencing

There is a wide range of suppliers of visualisers/document cameras and a range of models from each. Generally the less expensive models will have poorer resolution so that detail will be less crisp, and the refresh rate will be such that movement of objects will be more blurred. As models get more expensive so they add crispness and clarity to images for zooming in or recording video. Each model add further features, with additional cost. Some models will plug and play without additional software needing to be installed while others will require the dedicated software on the PC. So the choice is for the school.

Tweet shared by St Margaret’s Primary School in Falkirk Council illustrating the use of a visualiser by puoils to share their work with the rest of the class.


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