I wonder how many overhead projectors there are in schools shoved inside cupboards acting as trip hazards? It’s time we shipped them out and let them rest in pieces and buy in something one hundred times better; namely a document camera, or visualiser as they are commonly known.
A visualiser is one of the most versatile bits of AV kit going and there are several on the market. If you haven’t come across a one before then it is basically a high resolution web-cam on either a rigid or flexible arm, sometimes with a shooting stage and its own lighting source. Using controls on a base unit, you are able to zoom in and out and freeze and capture an image or object, as well as record. They are ideal for displaying crystal clear images.
Visualisers have so many uses in the classroom and suit any subject you are teaching to actively engage pupils in the learning process. You can use a visualiser for show and tell; science investigations; maths manipulatives (compass, ruler, thermometer, etc); maps; photos; images; worksheets; displaying pupils’ work; zooming in on small objects to see the details; model writing skills, editing, revising; and so on. You can save images for later use or to put on a website, and images can be incorporated into PowerPoint presentations and Windows Movie Maker.
Visualisers are not just for teachers either, they can also be used by pupils to lead demonstrations for the rest of the class.
One of the latest visualisers on the market is the ergonomic AVerVision F50 from AVer (formerly AVerMedia). The F50 is a smart looking visualiser with a stylish gooseneck flexible arm, a great design that’s far superior to the rigid arm models because it offers more scope and a greater reach at different angles. The F50 also excels by offering on-board video and audio recording, which is perfect for capturing demonstrations and lessons where you need everyone to see clearly what is happening.
The ground-breaking annotation feature is the cherry on the cake as it allows you to plug a mouse or pen into the F50 and immediately annotate an image without a computer or extra software, which is pretty clever and, notably, an industry-first. The F50 works with interactive whiteboards, projectors, PC Monitors, laptops and TVs, connecting via High-Speed USB. Presentation tools, picture-in-picture and split screen are tailor made for step by step demos.
I’ve used the F50 for turning reading books into big books, demonstrating letter formation, modelling sentence structure, making nets, making a circuit, drawing and magnifying leaves. Everyone gets a piece of the action and the outstanding image quality makes close inspections a real possibility for children sat at the back of the class. Just make sure you’ve had a manicure first! You can also rotate images with ease if you need to and these can be in colour, black and white, negative, mirror, or reverse.
The record function is a simple one touch of the button. Making recordings is perfect for showcasing something again and again, as well as freezing demonstrations at the appropriate moments. The video is very high-quality, which you can store on the built-in memory or directly to a USB flash drive or SD card. It’s the sort of thing you can prepare in advance as well and have a demo ready and waiting using the remote control if you wish.
The F50 has a lamp with about 20,000 hours of life which is 833 days if you want to plan your retirement.
Visualisers were originally developed for the scientific and medical market for X-rays and telepathology. Now they are becoming popular in schools because they really help pupils visualise what they are learning in a way that appeals and works. All you have to do is persuade your headteacher that a visualiser is a must and will bring an extra dimension to your interactive classroom teaching. Try and say the price with a cough though because the F50 retails at approximately £540, which, in fairness, is about mid-range. Instead, enunciate clearly that the F50 has a five year warranty and is actually well worth it.