Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Who Needs a Document Camera? Breaking the Tether!

Not too long ago, there were overhead projectors.  There was a natural consequence for lecturing too long with the overhead.  This was for me, temporary blindness from staring at an incredibly bright lamp for longer than I should.  I remember how important it was to be taught to never look directly at a solar eclipse, why in my teacher preparation courses did they not cover overhead projector induced blindness?

As technology moved forward, the document camera emerged.  These have become a classroom staple for many teacher, especially in our district.
However, as technology changes (often improves) so rapidly, there came about in my view, a better way.

When I was given an iPad to use for teaching a few years ago, I learned how to wirelessly project.  This enabled me to do with the iPad what I used to do with the document camera.  Instead of writing on a paper, however, I was annotating a PDF.  When I used my iPad to project my PDF annotation, I was not tethered to a document camera and could elicit the participation of my students in a real and organic way.  Moving around the room, maintaining proximity to my students allowed for authentic teaching and discussion.  Writing on a tablet is still kind of novel and cool, so the kids would behave as instructed to earn the privilege.  The cost of this configuration is often much less than that of a document camera!

The implications of this are expanding.  When attempting to apply the flipped or blended classroom models, the annotated PDF can be published or have the process recorded as a video to be posted on a website or LMS, like Canvas!  Many textbooks have their resources available online as blacklines that can be uploaded to a PDF annotation app through Dropbox or Google Drive.  Buildings in our district are all equipped with copy machines that will scan papers into a PDF format using email or a flash drive.  If you don't know how to use this function on your copy machine, call your Ed Tech right away!  

The easiest way to get the PDF file to these apps is to upload it to a cloud service- Google Drive is a great one!  This is how I transfer files from my computer to my iPad.  Here are a list of PDF annotation apps that I have used in the classroom and for my own productivity. 

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