Sunday, March 6, 2011

Classroom Doc Cam wins smackdown over PowerPoint

The best classroom technology for education ever invented is the “document camera,” also known as the doc cam. Better than an overhead projector, you can place any piece of paper on this machine and it appears on the screen for students – funny cartoons, pictures, headlines – this machine is invaluable.

Each of my class sessions has a list of terms that I give to students in a packet. Knowing that many students forget to bring the term sheets, I project that list on the screen throughout the class session, so students can follow along. Students know the exact order we’ll discuss topics because of the sequence of the terms. In addition, the conscientious students know how to prepare for class since I have them look up the terms prior to class.

By the way, I hate PowerPoint. If the lights are out, you’ve lost. If you have too much text, people are trying to read and listen to you. I guess if you just use bullets and a couple of words per frame, it’s as effective as my term sheets. However, with my method, a student receives five to eight pages of terms per Exam Unit, on which they can take notes. To me, even if you load PowerPoint onto Vista for students to download and print, that’s going to be too voluminous for students, not to mention the waste of paper.

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