how to doc cam

Table of Contents

If you are a teacher, you may have experienced challenges when teaching students remotely. It is hard to get children to pay attention in the classroom. It is even more difficult when you are in the classroom and students are at home. 

PowerPoint presentations do not work as well as chalkboards and overhead projections when teaching students. It is arduous to show things to students over the internet.

Document cameras give a student a bird’s-eye-view of the written portion of a lesson. These cameras are user-friendly and not as expensive as you might think. Inexpensive document cameras for teachers start at around $80.00.

What Is a Document Camera?

A document camera is an overhead projector for the internet age. It allows you to share documents and demonstrations online with the clarity of a real-world environment.

In a classroom, teachers use overhead projectors to display a document on-screen. Overhead classroom projectors transfer the image on a transparency to a projection screen. It does this by using a converging lens and a mirror. A lamp directs its light onto the transparency via a lens underneath. It then redirects the light from the transparency through the projector’s main lens.

A document camera works similarly. But instead of working through a projector, the image projects onto the computer screen. It’s perfect for remote teaching over the internet. This not only allows the teacher to share the teaching live with online students, but also allows to record the class.

What Does the Camera Look Like?

sample doc cam

A document camera looks very much like a desk lamp to the casual observer but works as an overhead. Point the camera at a document you wish to share and it projects the image onto a computer screen. 

Document cameras are much more versatile than overhead projectors alone. Some doc cams have a nice feature: the camera can project documents but can also function as a regular webcam for teaching.

How to Set Up a Document Camera

Setting up a document camera is straight forward and plug-and-play. In most cases, the camera will be a USB model that’s powerd by the computer. .

  1. Remove lens coverings from the camera
  2. Mount the camera according to the instructions.
  3. Connect the camera to the computer with the cable provided
  4. If your host computer hasmore than one camera, choose your document camera

Now you can use your document camera in a physical classroom and on the internet. 

Are There Different Types of Document Cameras?

As with any educational technology, there are a range of different of different document cameras with varying features and quality. 


Some document cameras can  point downward and focus an object or document below to project the video image onto the screen. Higher quality cameras also have swivel features and high-definition technology. 

The quality of the camera you would choose depends on the subject you teach. If a camera can swivel, you may point it dynamically at various objects in a classroom. This is helpful when you need plan to utilize the camera for documents and for items with finer details.. 


There are varying degrees of lens quality. It is critical to have a superior  lens if you are looking at something highly detailed  where every feature of an object  is crucial to understanding the subject.

Some advanced document cameras even have microscope adapters. This is essential in a science class. 


When selecting a document camera, consider its portability. Portable document cameras are beneficial if you teach from several classrooms throughout the day or work from home. 

online learning isn't just looking at the teacher on zoom

How to Use A Document Camera to Teach a Class

Let’s look at the types of classes taught in school and find out how a teacher would use a document camera in each of these settings.


Using a document camera is simple in a class such as English. For example, if a teacher wanted to instruct children about the parts of speech, they would write a sentence on an interactive whiteboard, point the document camera at the board, and diagram that sentence for their students.

If a teacher wants to quiz their students, they point the camera at the sentence and let the kids diagram the problem using the interactive whiteboard. Most document cameras provide this functionality. Here is the good news: you will not need the advanced lighting and technology that some more expensive cameras offer. 


Science classes would benefit from higher-end cameras. If you are teaching a chemistry lab, you must show students how to mix certain chemicals. This requires a camera that follows your motions as you show the experiment. 

If you are demonstrating a principle in physics, you will need a more advanced camera that can swivel and show different angles.

If you are teaching geology, you will want a high-definition camera to show the details of various kinds of fossils, for example. Your students will see the characteristics of items more clearly with high definition. 


You will see the complex details of an advanced math problem when utilizing a high-definition camera. A student might miss a step when trying to work on a solution if they cannot see everything the instructor is explaining. 

The best way to use a document camera for math problems is to use a whiteboard. Not every whiteboard will work well with every document camera. Be sure to check out  interactive whiteboards that are compatible with your camera.

An excellent document camera can do the same things a webcam does. A cooking instructor can show how to make a souffle if they have a document camera that can swivel and follow their motions as a webcam would. An art teacher can show students how to use light and composition using a document camera with a high-quality lens.


Before you buy a document camera, scan the reviews. Divide which features you require for effective teaching and consider the features you will need to teach your particular subject in your setting. Then compile your list of suitable contenders. 

Nothing can ever really take the place of a classroom. However, document cameras can assist teachers In doing the very best job they can during these trying times.

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