Be honest. What was your immediate reaction when you read that phrase?
Did you shiver with delight imagining the pleasingly paperless digital classroom? Gone are the tubs of paste, pencil shavings, and leftover scraps of construction paper. Instead, we bask in the cool glow of touch screens and use words like “interconnectedness”.
Or are you like the rest of us and shudder with horror? Did your chest tighten as you imagined detangling Ethernet wires? Did your blood boil as you imagined stubborn wifi, blue crash screens, and the labyrinth of dystopian error messages?
Well, I’m not going to lie to you. It can be a rough road out there. Applying technology to the classroom in fruitful ways can be a tremendous challenge for all educators. This is why I supplicate for your permission to offer some of my experience. I am here to help you separate the digital grain from the virtual chaff.
The Hovercam T3 is a 3 megapixel, 200 dpi telescoping document camera with some fancy sounding features (like SmoothZoom). It uses the processing power of your computer and you can adjust brightness and resolution. For those of you looking for a translation in English, it’s basically a camera on a stick. It takes a video or image and sends it to the computer screen (and projector screen, if you have one available).
How could it be useful in the classroom? Basically, it takes the intimacy of a small group demonstration and projects it for the entire class. Have you ever found that it is easier to use base-10 blocks to explain regrouping to a group of 5 students than it is to explain it to a group of 30 students? That’s because you’re all hunched over the table together and everyone can look at the tabletop. We’ve all been there, right?
With the Hovercam, you can do the same “small-group” lesson and have it projected for everyone. You can also record the lesson for later viewing. Perhaps for an absent student, re-viewing during review time, or to post on the internet for parents at home.
In my classroom, the Hovercam was also useful for turning regular-sized picture books into “big books”. And have you ever tried to do a read-aloud of The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick? Now the lush illustrations won’t be lost on the students in the back row.
Ease of use: 3+ Value/cost: 2+ Application: 3 Final grade: level 3-
It’s easy-ish to use and reasonably priced. You could probably use a camcorder and a tripod to do most of this, but for the price it’s a useful classroom tool.
Jeffrey MacCormack is currently on a leave from his classroom for children with autism at Terry Fox Elementary School. He is working on his PhD in Education with a focus on autism. He is a member of Simcoe County Teacher Local. This post is the beginning of a series on technology for classroom teachers.