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.
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!