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How Does a Document Camera Help Students? 

How Does a Document Camera Help Students?

I am slightly “behind on the times” in these days of advanced technology, so when I started hearing about document cameras from my kids, I was quite intrigued! I decided to look them up and see what they were all about. Then I started asking myself another question. How does a document camera help students? Perhaps you have a student in your life as well, and you are now wondering the same thing. Great news! I did some more digging, and here is what I found. Cue the drumroll, please!

Document cameras are used to capture real-time images digitally and display them clearly to multiple viewers. They are becoming a popular tool that is regularly used in educational settings for a variety of purposes. Students are always able to see a vivid image of what is being taught no matter where they are sitting in a classroom, which can improve in their overall understanding of a topic. Students gain more opportunities to interact with the entire class, and due to a higher comprehension rate, may even see an increase in grades or test scores!

Curiosity peaked? Let’s dig a little deeper so that we can understand more of the benefits that a document camera can provide.

What Is a Document Camera?

Remember the days of the overhead projector? Sayonara! Those plastic sheets that only ever showed half of what you needed to see during a lesson? Adios! A document camera is a new type of projector on steroids because you can project almost ANYTHING digitally! You are no longer limited to using transparency sheets that are created specifically for the projector. You are not even limited to only using books or sheets of paper. The options are endless as far as what objects you can use! You can write on, interact with, or mold whatever you are projecting in ways that will communicate and educate the class in the most effective way possible! You can even record a video! Are you impressed yet?

Document Cameras cost anywhere from $50 to over $1000. The cheapest document cameras do not always come with the cables they need and often lack features or picture quality, so I would not necessarily recommend that everyone jump up and buy the least expensive model nearby. Surprisingly though, a real mid-grade document camera doesn’t have to cost a fortune and averages from about $75-$200 dollars! At that price point, most individuals would be more than satisfied with the quality of picture and the features that it would provide.

What Are the Main Features of a Document Camera?

  • The lens plays a huge part in the quality of the picture you will see and allows for adjustments to be made on the focus for maximum clarity.
  • The arm connects the lens to the base. These can be either flexible or rigid and would affect how you adjust or reposition the camera.
  • The image sensor determines image quality. The higher the resolution, the better it will display photos and images.
  • Lighting is always important, and many document cameras feature LED lighting near the lens that light up the chosen object in order to maintain a crystal clear image while being shared with others.
  • The Motherboard is like the “brain” of the camera that processes the image signals and then sends signals to the display device.
  • Storage is handy when saving images or creating slideshows.

What Classes Use Document Cameras?

Document cameras can be useful in any class! Most commonly, they are used in science, math, and language arts. Some elective teachers are even discovering how useful they can be!

In science, a document camera is often used in labs or when dissecting something such as a frog or organ. Can you imagine always being able to see up close and never having to worry about being stuck behind everyone else where you cannot see what’s going on at all? I was always one of the tallest people in my grade, and stuck in the very back, so this personally hit home for me! Other examples of how a document camera could be used in science is having the ability to zoom in on the details inside of a rock, label diagrams or even being able to zoom in and record video of any tiny creatures that live in the soil of a river bank.

Math and document cameras are like a match made in heaven! Teachers are given the ability to work through solving problems as a group, showing step-by-step how the solution is found, explain charts or graphs, illustrate patterns and even work through problems with manipulatives

During a class in language arts a document camera may help by being able to zoom in on any small print. It also would allow students to read or follow along in a textbook without having to obtain copies for everybody and offers more interactive instruction as a whole class.

Electives such as piano classes, have started using document cameras as well. One use that they have found is assisting in teaching a student the notes of a new song! The instructor is able to record a video of themselves playing the song, while zooming in on the fingers or keys to show the correct positioning or techniques to use.

How Does a Document Camera Help Students?

Having a document camera in the classroom enables the teacher to personalize lessons and makes teaching much more interactive. How does a document camera help students? Here are just a few of the ways they can benefit.

  • Oftentimes students cannot see what is being explained, especially from certain areas in the room. Projectors required the classroom to be dark, often had shadows getting in the way, or the images being displayed appeared blurry. Document cameras have vivid crisp pictures that can capture the students’ attention. They allow you to zoom in or out as needed, which helps with things like learning proper brush strokes in art or the different textures of rocks in geology. Having the ability to see clearly can help the students’ comprehension and understanding of the lessons being taught.
  • Being able to view the connections of concepts being made through illustrations, examples, notes or showing work when solving problems can make a huge difference in the amount of information that sticks inside a young mind versus what “goes in one ear and out the other.” Over a period of time retaining more information, and understanding the importance of showing work when solving a problem, can lead to an increase in grades and test scores! 
  • Students can learn to budget time when the document camera is used to display a timer that counts down until the end of a test or how much time remains before moving on to the next activity. This can help them stay on track and therefore increase productivity.
  • Students will know what is expected of them when the document camera is used for displaying instructions, whether it be in regards to WHAT work needs to be done or how they are actually expected to accomplish it.
  • Class participation can increase because there is no overhead projector light that produces so much heat everyone tries to avoid it like a plague! Even shy individuals can gain confidence and a desire to participate regularly because the document camera and object being shared are in the spotlight, with less focus on the student themselves.
  • Teachers have found a great motivational tool in using document cameras. They have even been known to get silly with it and make it fun for everyone! It is a great form of positive reinforcement and way to display the great work and masterpieces from the students. This establishes a sense of pride, as well as motivation to do well, and work neatly. 


The next time that student in your life brings up document cameras in the classroom, you will not feel lost as to what benefits or features they offer! Document cameras are quickly becoming a popular favorite in classrooms of all kinds! They are regularly used in science labs, math activities, and reading or writing. They range in price however, you don’t have to buy the most expensive document camera that you find in order to obtain quality display or the features that you will use the most often.

Document cameras may be the tool needed in order to bring lessons to life for some students. Students that are currently struggling, may experience improved comprehension, a clearer understanding of what is expected from them and even better grades! The shyer individuals that typically avoid classroom participation may build their confidence to the point that they are soon eager to participate or show off their work. Some students that had difficulty staying on track, could possibly learn how to focus their attention and manage their time in productive ways. Lastly, document cameras can help the student in your life find the motivation to do their absolute best, and be proud of whatever they accomplish along the way.

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Written by Moneywise Teacher Staff

This post was written by an awesome member of the Moneywise Teacher writing staff!

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