More than just projection: creative teaching ideas with document cameras

Turn your lessons into an experience with visualisers

Overhead projectors have been an integral part of classrooms for decades. Nowadays, many classrooms are digitally upgraded with interactive boards and projection solutions. Document cameras and visualisers are the ideal addition to the digital classroom and enable the presentation of 3D objects, documents and experiments.


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What is a visualiser?

Visualisers, also known as document cameras, are versatile devices that make it possible to capture physical documents and objects in real time and make them visible to the audience on a display or via a projector. Their ability to display not only flat documents but also three-dimensional objects makes them particularly popular in educational institutions.


Visualisers are known for their advanced functions such as zooming, rotating, image storage and even video recording. They offer high image quality and are usually easy and intuitive to use. The devices are often lightweight and portable, making them an excellent choice for versatile presentation requirements.

Why should you use a visualiser?

Unlike document cameras, overhead projectors are considered outdated technology. They offer a basic and traditional presentation method that is no longer sufficient in modern classrooms. Document cameras are particularly useful for displaying physical documents and objects that are not available in digital form and therefore cannot be shown directly via a projector or interactive whiteboard.

Advantages of document cameras in the classroom

Equipping a classroom with a document camera offers a number of advantages and possibilities compared to a classroom without such a camera.

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Visualisation of physical objects

A major advantage of document cameras is that physical objects and live presentations are possible. Compared to laptops, which can be used to show digital documents, images and videos, or overhead projectors, which only display slides, document cameras allow you to present chemistry experiments, three-dimensional objects and physical documents.

Flexibility in the classroom

Some document cameras have an additional HDMI or VGA input and can therefore loop the image from a laptop through to the projector or display. This allows you to switch between laptop and camera image at the touch of a button. This makes it easier to switch between different teaching materials and media and supports different teaching methods;

Saving time and resources

Document cameras reduce the need for physical copies and handouts to allow students to view documents simultaneously. This method not only eliminates the need to wait at the photocopier, but also saves paper. However, if handouts need to be distributed for editing, the results can be quickly and easily presented to the whole class.
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Saving the results

If you develop interesting findings with your students in class, you can record them using a document camera and use them later. This is a way of consolidating what has been learnt and promoting interactive lessons. In this way, the collected results can be organised, edited and made available to all pupils on the digital whiteboard, for example.

This is where the various document cameras differ

To choose the right document camera for educational institutions, it is important to understand the different types and their specific features. These include simple USB cameras, mid-range cameras and high-end cameras.

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Simple USB cameras

USB cameras can be connected directly to a computer via a USB cable. These cameras are characterised by their simplicity and ease of use. In addition, they can also be used as webcams in video conferences as part of hybrid teaching models. USB cameras are therefore particularly suitable for schools that require a simple document camera for sporadic applications that can also be easily transported from room to room.
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Mid-range cameras

Mid-range cameras can be connected directly to a display or projector via an HDMI or VGA cable. They generally offer better image quality than USB cameras. These cameras often also have a USB connection so that they can be used like USB cameras and are therefore much more versatile. Mid-range cameras are suitable for schools that regularly hold presentations or lessons with higher demands on image quality.
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High-end cameras

In addition to the features of mid-range cameras, high-end cameras offer further functions, such as a particularly high zoom factor, extended image processing and storage options or wireless connectivity. These cameras therefore offer maximum flexibility and cut a fine figure in all application scenarios, although they are designed for stationary use. High-end cameras are suitable for schools and universities that value high-quality presentations and experiments.

What you should look out for in document cameras

To find the right document camera for your needs, you should consider the resolution, connection options and other important factors.

Connection options

The various connection options of a document camera determine how flexibly it can be used. The most common connection options are USB, HDMI and wireless.

USB connection to the computer
HDMI connection to the display or projector
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Wireless connection to the display or projector

USB connection to the computer

Visualisers with a USB connection can be connected to a computer via a USB cable. The camera then acts as an input device and the image can be displayed on the computer using the appropriate software and then forwarded from there to a projector or display. The software often has additional functions for editing the live image, such as for notes and markers.

HDMI connection to the display or projector

HDMI is one of the most common connection options for high-resolution video and audio signals. Most modern document cameras, displays and projectors have HDMI connections. This connection offers high image quality and is ideal for presentations that require detailed images.

Wireless connection to the display or projector

Some newer document cameras also offer the option of transmitting their image wirelessly to a Miracast-enabled display or projector. This enables flexible positioning of the camera and reduces the need for cables.


The choice of resolution should depend on the type of presentation and the image quality requirements. While higher resolutions allow for more detailed and sharper images, they are usually more expensive. Lower resolutions, on the other hand, are less expensive and may be sufficient for general educational purposes or simple presentations. Document cameras with full HD and 4K resolutions are most commonly used.

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Document cameras with full HD resolution

Full HD offers excellent image quality for demanding applications. It is ideal for use at universities, in design courses or for professional presentations where the finest details are crucial. It is particularly advantageous when the camera is also used for high-resolution video recordings
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Document cameras with 4K resolution

4K offers the highest resolution available and can be found in high-end models. It is ideal for specialised applications such as high-resolution art, design or scientific presentations. 4K is ideal when images are displayed on large screens or when every detail counts.

Additional functions

Depending on the model, document cameras offer many other useful functions that make presenting and collaborating in everyday school life an experience for everyone!



The zoom capability determines how close you can zoom in on an object without compromising image quality. Optical zoom is preferable to digital zoom as it offers higher image quality without pixelation.

Frame rate

A higher frame rate ensures smoother video transmissions, which is particularly important when dynamic processes such as experiments are to be shown. Typical frame rates are between 15 and 30 FPS, with higher frame rates offering better motion quality.
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The ability to focus quickly and precisely is crucial for creating clear images. Automatic focussing makes handling easier, while manual focussing options offer more control.
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Integrated LED lighting can be helpful to illuminate objects evenly and reduce shadows. The illuminance and the ability to adjust the lighting can be important depending on the environment and object.
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Flexibility of the camera head

A flexible camera head makes it possible to adjust the camera to different angles and positions to obtain the best image. This is particularly useful when objects of different sizes and shapes need to be displayed.


If the camera needs to be moved between different rooms or locations, it is important that it is lightweight and portable. The size and design also play a role, especially if space is limited.


If the camera does not need to be transported, it is important that it is robust so that it can be used in everyday school life over the long term .

Storage options

Some document cameras offer internal storage or recording functions so that images or videos can be saved directly on the device and reused later.

How do document cameras change teaching?

The use of a document camera expands the didactic possibilities in the classroom and helps to create a dynamic, interactive and visually appealing learning environment.


Interactive scientific experiments

In biology lessons, teachers can connect a microscope to a document camera to show students detailed images of cell structures or microscopic organisms in real time. In addition, experiments such as chemical reactions can be carried out live under the document camera and magnified so that every student in the classroom can clearly see the details.


Demonstrations in arts and crafts

In art lessons, the document camera can be used to demonstrate drawing and painting techniques in close-up. The teacher can give step-by-step instructions while the students can observe the precise hand movements and techniques up close. This facilitates the learning of complex techniques and allows students to grasp subtle details that they would otherwise miss.


Promotion of reading skills

In language or literature courses, the document camera can be used to project text passages from books or articles. The teacher can emphasise important concepts, make comments or discuss certain text passages while all students have the same text in front of them. This encourages collaborative learning and facilitates discussion as all students can look at the same page and analyse the text together. In addition, students can present their own work via the document camera.

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