iPevo Cameras at Northwest Children's Home
By Elijah Werner
In August of 2014, the Doceo Center very generously provided my school, the Northwest Children’s Home Education Center, with a new iPevo document camera and magnifier lens. It immediately attracted a great deal of interest from students and staff alike, partially since we had until that time very little in the way of digital educational tools and also because we had not been aware that a document camera with that degree of flexibility, quality, and affordability was available. It did not take us long to consider many possibilities for its use.
Initially, it served mostly as a curiosity to the students once I had taken it to my classroom. At that point, our ability to present digital media consisted of an old laptop with an even older television plugged into it. The quality and placement of the television limited what could be seen, and my own inexperience limited what we could make with the situation. The students however, made the most of the exploratory time that was given to them. They quickly learned how to operate the camera, both with the built-in controls and the installed computer program. In a very short time, they had created a wide variety of creative and goofy pictures and were inviting in the residential staff to view them.
While this may seem to be a foolish first use of this technology, it proved to be very educational to the other staff and myself. We observed the way the students explored the camera- not haphazardly as we had expected, but in a surprisingly methodical and effective way. We also observed that students who had previously been almost completely unable to interact in a positive way with one another had begun to work together in a very calm and appropriate manner. The novelty of the camera and the opportunity to try something new had overridden for the moment their jealousies and rivalries. To our surprise, they began organizing and composing pictures of their classmates, taking turns as photographer or participant and requiring little input or direction from staff.
This experience was foundational to our plan for the next batch of technology that arrived in our class. Shortly after the iPevo camera was shared with us, the Children’s Home received a grant to purchase digital interactive boards for three classrooms (including mine). Our experience with the camera prompted us to quickly allow the students access to the new board in hopes of observing similar results, and we were not disappointed. The control panel of the new board is very cumbersome and in many ways, not very intuitive. The students again applied their collaborative skills (which we had only observed once before) and their surprisingly methodical approach, giving us access and use of features that would have taken the other staff and I much longer to discover. This has made us slightly dependent on the students to help us work the new equipment, but at the same time it gives these same students some investment in the lesson, regardless of the subject. Had we not experienced the student’s success with the iPevo camera, we would not have dared to allow them such early access to the interactive board. We certainly had not expected that the first lesson of the iPevo would be to teach us more about our own students.
Since the interactive board was installed, we now have an excellent way to view content through the iPevo camera and make full use of its capabilities. Our first use of the combined technology was completely unexpected, however. While conducting an IEP meeting, I discovered that one of the documents, for unknown reasons, had been transmitted to us in an extremely small format. The print was far too small to be legible, and I was nearly convinced that it was impossible that the lines and smudges that could be seen represented text at all. Out of curiosity, we attached the magnifier to the camera, placed it on the document, and turned on the board. The troublesome document became immediately and clearly readable. This has prompted us on several occasions to use the iPevo to inspect tiny details in old photographs during history class. The students have also enjoyed using it to inspect close-up details of rocks, leaves, and the occasional bug.
At this stage, we have not yet presented a formal lesson that makes specific use of the iPevo camera. The camera has been a frequent incidental support to many lessons and it is an integral part of our plans for an upcoming physical science course. Even so, we have found that the benefits of having this one, small piece of technology have surpassed all our expectations. We are eager to discover what it will teach us next!