The days of hearing “Teacher, I can’t see it from here” are finished in St. Joseph’s. We introduced  visualisers into all classrooms in Spring 2007. A visualiser, also known as a document camera, is one of the most versatile and useful tools in our classroom. Video visualisers and document cameras are electronic imaging tools for displaying 3-D objects via a projector onto a screen / whiteboard. We installed visualisers in all classrooms in St. Joseph’s four years ago and they are probably the most popular digital tools in the classrooms.

Having 30 pupils crowded around a table is never ideal. Using the visualiser everyone gets a great view – without ever having to leave their seat. The teacher can demonstrate to the  whole class at once, something previously only possible on a group or one-to-one basis. Documents such as books, copies, papers, magazines or maps can be placed underneath the visualiser lens so that they can be projected onto a screen. 3D items such as coins, leaves, insects or other artefacts can be displayed to the whole class. Most visualisers have a zoom facility allowing the teacher to display the smallest of details. Any non-digital material can be instantly shared by all.

 The digital video camera is fixed to an arm on a base. The computer and visualiser may be connected to the data projector simultaneously. The teacher chooses which is to be displayed by the press of a button.

Unlike the overhead projector, specially prepared transparencies are not required. Visualisers can show documents, books, art work and 3D objects directly. Entire pages can be shown or minute details zoomed into. A still image can be captured of the object and saved in the visualiser. The image quality depends on the camera resolution but is generally very good. Detail zooming gives you great flexibility, and really help push the boundaries of how to use technology in a whole class teaching environment. It opens up many more ways of promoting effective teaching within whole class / group contexts

Visualisers are a simple yet very powerful technology to use in the classroom. They can be used across the entire curriculum, in a number of different ways. It is a simple to use technology that appeals to both teachers and pupils.

 The following are just some examples of how visualisers are used in our classrooms:

  Pupils’ work can be displayed to the rest of the class instantly
  Artefacts – even the smallest and most fragile – can be viewed by the entire class. 
  The visualiser gives access to scarce resources, such as where the school has only one copy of a book or a pupil brings in a photograph to show the class.  
  The teacher may use it to demonstrate the correct way to hold a pen and how to form letters using a joined script.
  Demonstrate the hand movements involved in letter formation as well as pencil grip on a workbook page before the children commence the exercise.  
  Demonstrate the science experiment to the class as a whole.
  Give immediate feedback on written work by projecting it and reading it as a written text which then leads to whole class evaluation.
  Use pupils’ work immediately as the basis for teaching and learning through redrafting and editing. Corrections and suggestions may be written on the whiteboard without affecting the pupil’s original work.
  By using the capture facility the teacher could use it as means of archiving pupils’ art or written work.
  In the course of the year individual pupils writing and art work may be organised into a digital portfolio.
  A small book or image can be projected on to the large screen for the teacher or pupils to read aloud. To quote one teacher in our school “Every small book becomes a big book”.
  There is the ability to zoom in on images ensuring that all pupils can see illustrations clearly.
  Only one copy of the song lyrics or poem is required for the class.
  All pupils are focused on a single point
  The teacher can demonstrate and illustrate without obstructing any pupil’s view.
  A digital image can be captured of a text page, work of art or other object.
  All captured images taken of texts can be saved and stored for future use. These can also be copied and pasted into editing programmes or to the school website.

The Visualiser is an effective and efficient tool for collecting and collating pupils’ writing and art work for recording and assessment purposes. It is engaging, interactive and simple to use. Time and money is saved in photocopying, access is instant and presentation is in colour. It gives the opportunity to take many of our existing teaching practices and engage the children in a more exciting way. Teachers and pupils find that this technology enables them to do things in new and transforming ways. The key advantage is that the whole class can see what is being demonstrated at the same time. They have proven to be one of the most teacher and child friendly resources in the school.