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Hovercam+ 33′ ft USB cable = learning goodness

November 3, 2011

Part of my job this year involves helping science faculty find innovative uses for technology in their classrooms. One piece of technology I can heartily endorse is the Hovercam Document Camera, which costs $220. This camera becomes even more powerful when you pair it with a $9 33ft USB cable from Monoprice.

Here’s are the two ways I use it most in class:

  • Letting students explore their ideas with the class. Almost every class starts with a warm up that asks students to solve a problem on an index card. I then ask—”who wants to explore their reasoning with the class?” and we pass the document camera and let the student project his/her work for the class to see. The student then explains his/her work, and the rest of the class asks questions and discusses how to extend the reasoning. The 33′ cable allows me to be able to pass the camera to any student in the room, and it allows students to present work without having to get out of their seats, which is mostly a good thing (there are some times I wonder if it would be better to have students bring their work to the document camera).
  • As a medium speed color document scanner: One of the big strengths of the Hovercam is its easy to use software. Doing multi-page scans to pdfs is a breeze. Simply click a button, and it takes a photograph, flip the page, press the button on screen, and it takes a second. Repeat as necessary. The scans are in color, and I can get through a stack of stapled tests in a few minutes, without having to go through the hassles of removing staples (which I would need to do to scan them in the copier). I do this to keep an archive of all student work that I collect—I just email the scans to a gmail account for storage and it works quite nicely.

The Hoververcam is light (2lbs) and rugged, so I can just throw it in my backpack and take it home to scan work at home. The software is built into the camera, and so there are no drivers to download or installation CDs to lose. The software itself works very well, and the only bug I see is that if the camera isn’t connected before the software is started, the software won’t be able to detect/use the Hoevercam.

Overall, I’m pleased withs this tool, and think a document camera is a great classroom tool, especially when paired with a long extension cable to allow you to pass the camera around the room. The Hovercam is far cheaper than most other document cameras you’ll find, with the exception IPEVO Point 2 View camera, a $70 wonder that I’ve also tested. The IPEVO is a great little camera, but it doesn’t really have the same level of functionality as the Hovercam. It has a hard time getting far enough from the surface of the table to give a full shot of a piece of paper, and the software doesn’t offer the same scanning functionality as the hovercam.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 3, 2011 11:41 pm

    If 33′ is not a long enough cable, you can get a $7 pair of USB-Cat 5 converters and a 100′ Cat 5 cable for another $7.50.

    I’ve used a pair of the adapters with a 50′ cable, but I’ve not pushed the speed, so I don’t know how fast a data rate you get.

  2. November 6, 2011 6:25 am

    Thanks John! Sounds like an interesting device. Have others tried to use it as well. Is the tool getting some traction in the department.

    I take it that when you pass it around to a student their image is displayed on the Smartboard through your computer. That way all students see the one student’s index card with the problem they are explaining.

    Neat tool.

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