Classroom Management

15 Fabulous Ways to Utilize a Document Camera in the Art Room

Document Camera in the Art Room

Recently, I heard one of my students ask his friend, “If you were stranded on an island and could only take one item with you what would you bring?” I started thinking about the question as it applied to my classroom. The thought came to my mind, “What is the one item in my classroom that I absolutely could not do without?” I started surveying my room and realized there were so many wonderful items that I rely on every day.

But then my eyes landed on my desk and I saw the one item that makes my job so much easier: my document camera.

For those who don’t know, document cameras, which are sometimes referred to by the brand name “ELMOs,” are essentially a replacement for that trusty antique, the overhead projector.

Document cameras are able to project high resolution images of whatever items are placed underneath them. The beauty is that the items can then be shown in all their glory on a big screen in the classroom.

I’ll be honest. In college, I don’t even think I really knew the true potential of these little machines. I’m pretty sure back then I would have just said, “Pass me an Expo Vis-à-Vis and a wet rag…everyone gather around my desk.”

When I started my year of student teaching, I was placed in a middle school where the teacher utilized a document camera. I was absolutely blown away by the potential this camera had. Suddenly, instead of having two dozen bodies crammed around my demonstration table, every student was able to see just fine from the comfort of his or her own seat. The document camera has literally been a life saver and I don’t know what I’d do without it. Plus, if I was ever stranded on an island and all I had was a document camera, then at least I could project “SOS” and everyone would see it.

I wanted to give you a list of all the different things this little machine can do. If you’re lucky enough to have one in your room, please add your own ideas in the comments section! If you don’t have a document camera, the good news is that they come in a range of prices. Sometimes you can even find a deal for under $100! Without further ado, here are 15 fabulous ways to utilize a document camera.

15 Fabulous Ways to Utilize a Document Camera in the Art Room

  1. Use it as a way to demonstrate steps of a project for everyone to see
  2. Broadcast a project that students have worked on outside of class in a “show and tell” manner
  3. Zoom in on projects so students can see the details
  4. Capture images that you can use on websites, PowerPoints, worksheets, etc.
  5. Model cooperative learning activities (i.e. Venn Diagrams)
  6. Have your students be the teachers and demonstrate their knowledge
  7. Rotate objects underneath it when describing form and three-dimensional items
  8. Model how to write artist statements
  9. Display art articles or other texts without having to make multiple copies
  10. Take pictures of student artwork using the document camera to create an electronic portfolio
  11. Put a book underneath it during a read aloud so everyone can see the pictures
  12. Zoom in on rulers to help teach mathematics in an art project
  13. Place a stopwatch underneath the camera to help keep students on task and using their time wisely
  14. Show off the materials for a project and demonstrate the correct way to use them
  15. Display, analyze, and critique famous artwork and student artwork

There you go! 15 brilliant uses for a cool tool.

If you could only have one item from your classroom what would it be?

Do you have a document camera in your room? How do you use it?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jennifer Borel

Jennifer Borel is one of AOEU’s Adjunct Instructors and Academic Advisors and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She runs her own photography business and is passionate about students exploring the medium.

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