Oct 11, 2018 – I need a doc cam!

A document camera is an incredibly valuable tool in the classroom! It allows you to display images and objects to your entire class, and to take pictures of those images for later use. Doc cams are especially helpful for allowing students to view small objects – anything from that fragile bird’s nest a child brings in to show the class to the mold growing on the bread in your science station. Document cameras also allow you to project examples of your students’ quality work, highlight text in front of the class, and so much more.

However, most classroom teachers don’t have access to a document camera. Donor’s Choose, Itasca Mantrap, and our own Park Rapids Education & Activities Foundation are wonderful ways to get a doc cam for your classroom, but in the meantime, most of you have a tool that works similarly to a document camera and is readily available to you: your old school-issued iPad!

Our original iPads have definitely seen their better days. Most of them are iPad 2s, and are at least 4-5 years old. For many of you I’m guessing that this old tool has been set aside and relegated to a few games of Candy Crush, or even put in a drawer and forgotten. But your old iPad 2 still has a good functioning video camera that works extremely well as a doc cam!

If your iPad is filled with old apps you no longer use, a good start is to delete those extra apps. The next step is to make sure that you can connect your iPad to Airserver on your computer that projects to your SmartBoard. In order to do this you have to either have a laptop, or you need to have a wireless usb dongle on your computer. Turn on Airserver on your computer, and connect your iPad (or iPhone) using the following directions:

If you are using iOS 8 or higher, follow these steps:

  • Connect your iOS device and your computer running AirServer to the same Wi-Fi network.
  • On your iOS device, swipe up from the bottom of your screen to access the Control Center.
  • Tap the AirPlay (or Screen Mirroring) icon. You should now see a list of AirPlay enabled receivers available on your network.
  • Tap the name of the AirPlay receiver you wish to AirPlay to. This would be the name of the computer running AirServer.
  • To begin mirroring, toggle the mirroring switch.

If you are using iOS 7, follow these steps:

  • Connect your iOS device and your computer running AirServer to the same Wi-Fi network.
  • On your iOS device, swipe up from the bottom of your screen to access the Control Center.
  • Tap the AirPlay icon. You should now see a list of AirPlay enabled receivers available on your network.
  • Tap the name of the AirPlay receiver you wish to AirPlay to. This would be the name of the computer running AirServer.
  • To begin mirroring, toggle the mirroring switch.

Now you can open the camera app on your iPad (or iPhone) and hold it above the object or page you’d like to share. The trick is finding a great stand at a great (or no) price. You can buy iPad doc camera stands, but if you look around you’ll probably find exactly what you need in your classroom or around the house/apartment.

I’ve seen people use wire shelves, cardboard boxes, recipe stands, and all types of creative stands, but here are a few requirements:

  • The stand must be sturdy enough to hold the iPad.
  • It has to have openings at the top to safely set your iPad on while allowing the camera to peer through.
  • It lifts the iPad up from the “stage” below so you can fit objects of various sizes underneath.
  • There is a clear working area underneath to fit the demonstrator’s hands. This is especially important when annotating text or “modeling” for students.

In addition, there may be people in the district who have an older model document camera that they no longer use. If you have an doc cam that you would like to give up to another teacher, please let me know. I know of several people who would be happy to take it off your hands, even just to try it for a few days.

If you’re ready to try using your iPad as a doc cam, but want a little support, let me know. Or – stop in the Century library any time on Wednesday morning during church school, or after 3:15 on Wednesday, Oct 17th. Bring your iPad and we’ll talk all about how you can get yours running as a flexible document camera.


Don’t miss out on the continuous updates and new information coming out of Discovery Education – much of it free for educators! Check out the new content here: http://www.discoveryeducation.com/New-Content/ And use the teacher’s drop-down menu for additional free content.

Their virtual field trips, Puzzlemaker, and curricular resources for every grade level make them an important resource to always have on hand – especially for science and


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social studies teachers. For more information on how you can use Discovery Education in your classroom, shoot me an email.

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