Cameras for Desktop Videoconferencing

Yesterday I had a couple of excellent meetings with our district tech directors. We were discussing bringing desktop videoconferencing to our classrooms with interactive whiteboards or even just projectors to use as classroom based videoconferencing.

We had a great discussion on the different ways to do the web cameras. I had only been thinking about a basic under-$100 web cam. But they had some other creative comments.

Wide Field of View

Our Berrien Springs district has a long term collaboration with a school in Korea – using Skype. They have been experimenting with different webcams. They found that the teacher prefers a web cam with a wider field of view than the newer HD web cams that have a much narrower field of view.

In addition, they’ve been using a wireless mic with great success. Still waiting to hear which it is.

Document Cameras as Webcams

I learned yesterday that some document cameras can be used as a webcam. That if they come with a TWAIN driver, then they can be used as a USB webcam. But most document cameras only use USB to get pictures off the document camera; not as a webcam. Another district is considering whether they can find a document camera with enough features that can also be the camera for the videoconference. Imagine being able to use the same camera to show the class or a document. Could be easy for teachers.

Camcorders with USB Streaming

Remember when you could connect a camera via firewire to your computer and use that for your camera? We’ve mostly lost that functionality with USB connections. However, a couple tech directors shared about camcorders that could stream through USB. This would make an excellent camera for the desktop VC as well.

Not Standardizing

Someone suggested to me that I have our districts standardize all on the same webcam. But after hearing the discussion yesterday, I think we’ll get better research and ideas if we let them try out different options.

What webcams are you using? What do you prefer? What criteria are you using to choose? Please comment!

7 replies on “Cameras for Desktop Videoconferencing”

  1. Erin says:

    hi!

    I’ve read your blog a few times and am wondering if you’ve ever had discussions with your tech department about lighting for these video-conference set-ups.

    Lighting is often over-looked and can increase the quality of the video regardless of the type of camera.

    • Janine Lim says:

      Erin – thanks for your comment. Lighting isn’t too big of a deal with classroom videoconferencing. We are working with classrooms – they are what they are. There aren’t funds to invest in lighting.

      For places providing content to schools it is certainly helpful!

      • Erin says:

        Actually I have found lighting greatly improves classroom videoconferencing, especially the interaction between student and teacher in a distance learning situation.

        It is important that both ends of a video call can be clearly seen, and there are many options available, at varying price points to address these issues.

      • Janine Lim says:

        I’m talking about classroom to classroom collaborations – not full length courses. These are the same classes that are doing Skype calls also – so they are very low tech – and satisified with that.

  2. I am very interested in knowing what camcorders provide webcam functionality over USB. Could you reference those specific camera’s or refer to other resources? Thanks so much.

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