Note: I’ve kept this post to remind me that it always pays to be scrappy!
In my Math for Elementary Teachers (MathET) course, we do a lot of work with math manipulatives, puzzles, and games of various sorts. Some of this work can be done with virtual manipulatives, but only if all the students have a computer too. As a result, we do a lot of classroom work with old-fashioned hands-on math manipulatives, and I demonstrate using a document camera.
Since the beginning of Fall semester, I’ve been trying to figure out how to record these hands-on demonstrations to put in the online course shell, but the best I could figure out was to hold my little Flip video camcorder with my left hand while I write and rearrange the board with my right hand. (Note that there is not room on the document camera station for a tripod.) Unfortunately, this results in a shaky video, it is tiring, and it’s hard to do everything with one hand.
After doing this for about six months, on Monday I had this flash of insight (one of those ideas where you wonder why it took that long to have the idea). I was considering the idea of using masking tape to affix the Flip to the Doc Camera during class (which wouldn’t work because of the need to press the on/off button) … and I realized that I had a very simple solution in my pocket.
Here’s a closeup:
This works surprisingly well. The top and the bottom of the viewing area are a bit cut off, but with a little experimenting, and knowledge of where the working area is, this is a surprisingly slick and cheap way to record. I also recommend having a mini-whiteboard so that you can circle items, write notes, and generally “mark up” the viewing area without doing any damage to your document camera. The glare off the whiteboard does create a slight glare spot on the image, but it’s much easier than using sheet after sheet of paper (picking up the manipulatives between each sheet of paper).