Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tech Tips Tuesday

This week's tip - Using a Webcam
I am heading into the new school year with a webcam in my possession. As I now have an in-built webcam on my laptop I can begin using my old webcam at school. So, I've started thinking about how I can make the most use of it in order to enhance learning.

What is it that a webcam can do that my other tools can't? It can record video to stream and it can be used to record/project onto an interactive whiteboard. I have a few ideas here to get you started, but I will post more ideas as I explore the webcam more.

Document Camera
Kay Lera outlines how you can make a document camera in minutes by attaching a webcam to a flexible lamp stand. This would be really handy for 'projecting' a children's picture book onto the interactive whiteboard to make the text and illustrations bigger for students to see and read. It's also quicker than scanning the pages with a scanner. If you record the reading students could return to the file later to reread the book on their own or in a small group. Another great use for this document camera would be to demonstrate art and craft techniques. When I've taught origami I've struggled to demonstrate so that all students can see from their desks. Using a document camera to 'project' onto the interactive whiteboard would solve this problem.

Stream Video From Your Class
Mr. C has a webcam in his classroom and computer lab that stream continuously on his class blog . Visitors to the site can check out what is happening throughout the day. I'm not sure that I'm so excited about this idea for myself, but it would be a nice way to include parents in special events. This blog also makes great use of video for a number of purposes so be sure to check it out to get inspiration. To hear more about the background of this project you can visit Dean Shareski's blog to hear an interview with William Chamberlain (Mr. C).

Video Conferencing
Brian Crosby shares ideas for video conferencing with a webcam at the K12 Online Conference. He uses Skype to connect his class for video conferences with other schools. He also used video conferencing when one of his students became ill and was unable to attend school for an extended period of time.

School Trip Updates
Lorna Constantini and Matt Montagne also suggest using a webcam to stream nightly updates from a school trip to keep parents informed and involved while students are away from home. The video of this example is at about the 12 minute mark on this videocast.

How have you used a webcam in your classroom? What tips can you share with us? Please leave your suggestions in the comments.


  1. Great ideas! I totally hadn't thought of using my webcam as a doc cam. You are too smart :) I use mine to Skype and to make quick videos for kids to use and publish. I love it for recording because it is already plugged straight into the computer - no uploading. I also have used mine to record me reading a picture book for a read aloud. Kids can then watch the video as part of a center. It's like I'm there - but I'm not! Great tips, as always!

  2. The document camera is a great idea - I can recall doing origami years ago and the problem of evryone seeing what you were doing.
    I was given a hand-me-down document viewer thingy that does exactly that - it is so heavy that I've never used it, so the camera idea is much better.
    I really like that you include useful links to examples of use. Keep on blogging!

  3. I thought about using a camera for streaming of math lessons in class so that students could watch the presentation at home. Could be a great addition to taking notes.


  4. Don't forget stop motion animation - there's a great piece of software over on the software page at my blog called MonkeyJam, which can be used with a web cam to create stop motion animation or clay animation. Great fun to demonstrate how movies and animation are created as a series of still shots, or can also be used in other lessons - eg explaining scientific concepts.

    I'll put a post up about it in the next few days.

  5. Hi Penny, some really great ideas here. A web-cam is also good to take portraits of the kids using sites like www.cameriod.com to "distort" or "disguise" the children in some way for use as personal avatars on sites like voicethread. I have used web-cam also as mentioned above for children to read their stories into and record for playback reading later in a presentation this is a great way to see how their oral language improves over the year. I have also used a web-cam for clay-animation stopmotion photos (as you described attached to an old science clap stand).
    Thanks for sharing your ideas with us.

  6. Thanks for the link. I am using more and more video on my blog. I find student interviews and round table discussions to be very interesting. Web cams work really well for both. Their biggest drawback is they have to be attached to a computer.
    Mr. C

  7. I am trying to use my web cam as a document camera but have no idea what program to use so that my whole lesson can be projected. I use mac pro any suggetions?

  8. This year I created a wooden design that works great for a base for a logitech pro 9000. It was easy to make if you are handy with wood tools. It has been working great, but the software that came with the webcam does not have a full screen feature. The zoom and focus works great but the image size is only about 4x5 on a monitor. What software program do you use with your logitech webcam?

  9. how are you dealing with 508 compliance that requires any video stream that is used for instruction be either close captioned or have a text transcript?


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