Document Cameras

Document Cameras are devices used to capture real time images of whatever is placed under the camera. As the name implies it could be a document, an insect, a flower, or anything that you need to project to a larger audience when it is attached to a computer and data projector. The real power lies in using the document camera and the software to create powerful presentations, still images or videos to support instruction.

There are many different document cameras on the market and the focus on this page will be the CCPS standard  AverVision 300AF+ or 300AFHD. The software needed for its use is Sphere 2.Sphere 2 icon

Sphere 2 is the next generation of document camera software from Aver. It is recommended that you look over the Sphere 2 Handout and the provided videos below to see how it can be used. If you need to download Sphere 2 you will need to go to the CCPS Portal>Software Installation Center>Page 2 and select Sphere 2 and click Install.

Guidelines for Use

The document camera is often said to be the replacement for the overhead projector. While that is true in some respects there is so much more power to the device that needs to be discovered. The trick is to start small using the camera as a replacement for the way we did things in the past, but the goal is to find new ways to incorporate its use in the classroom. Below you will find ways to accomplish this task.

Planning Steps

A key to success is making sure the document camera is correctly connected to the computer via the USB cable that is provided in the original box. It is also important that you have installed the Sphere 2 that may not have been in the box when originally purchased. The software installation information is above.

If you have a new document camera model 300AFHD there is a small switch on the side of the document camera that is almost always set to the USB Flash Drive side coming out of the factory. That switch needs to be set to the PC CAM side before connecting the USB cable above. In fact install the Sphere software first if it is not already installed, put the switch in the PC CAM setting then connect the USB cable to your computer or docking station. Once connected the computer will finish installing the visualizer software then it will be ready for use.

Best Practices – Curriculum Connections

The use of the document camera can be used across the vast spectrum of the curriculum and below are some best practices to get you thinking about how it can make an impact in the classroom.

  • Share a book, newspaper or magazine article
  • Share and edit student work
  • Model how to take notes or how to highlight important passages
  • Show a science experiment up close and on the big screen
  • Model solving math problems using manipulatives
  • Share an art demonstration
  • Share and annotate over a rare map or document
  • Have a student model a Physical Education demonstration
  • Create time lapsed movies…watch a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis
  • Record the video and audio of a lesson that happens under the camera for future use
  • Use the camera as part of a webinar that involves an expert who cannot visit the school

Teacher InformationGetting Started

  1. The best place to start is to load the software.
  2. Connect the USB from the document camera to the computer and plug in the power supply for the document camera.
  3. Start the software from the icon on the desktop.
  4. Use the resources below begin to explore what the tools can do for you and practice before you are in front of students.
  5. It should be a rule to fit the use of this camera and all technology seamlessly into your lessons. It should not be an event, but something you rely on daily.

 Equipment Needed

  • document camera
  • USB cable
  • Sphere 2 Software
  • computer
  • data projector

ISTE Standards•S 

Tutorials and Resources

K-12 sample lesson plans from AverMedia that include Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Art & Music, and others.

Printable Resources


Video Resources for the Sphere 2 Software

Sphere 2 Annotation – This 4:30 video will review the annotation tools (pen, highlighter etc.) and how they can be used to enhance instruction in the classroom.

Sphere 2 Camera Controls – This 7:00 video will review the camera controls that allow the teacher to pause, auto focus, zoom, image adjustment etc. to get the most out of what is being displayed under the document camera.

Sphere 2 Capture – This 5:45 video will review two of the three ways you can use a document camera to capture JPEG images of what is happening under the camera as well as the annotations that my accompany the image.

Sphere 2 Continuous Capture – This 10:30 video will review the third way to use the document camera to capture JPEG images. This method will allow you to capture time lapse images that can then be made into your own movie using Windows Movie Maker. It could be used to show the decomposition of a banana or the butterfly coming out of a chrysalis.

Sphere 2 Menu – This 8:35 video will go over the menu that will allow you to control the viewing size of the document camera. It will also review the Options menu for setting up folders to store the images and video that are captured under the document camera. There are several options for uploading to social media sites that are currently not allowed in CCPS. It is recommended that you set up a folder on the desktop of your computer for everything you capture with the software. Please make sure you occasionally back these items up in another location other than your U drive.

Sphere 2 Presentation Tools and Widget Mode – This 4:30 video will review the presentation tools Spotlight and Visor and how you can use Widget Mode to split your computer screen to share other applications at the same time.

Sphere 2 Recording – This 5:17 video will review how you can use the Sphere 2 software with the document camera to make instructional videos. These can be used as part of the flipped classroom, review for students or as a student driven project.

Sphere 2 Top Tool Bar – This 6:20 video will go over some of the tools at the top of Sphere 2 software. We will review the Media Library, Whiteboard, Side by Side, Visualizer and Picture in Picture. There are some wonderful opportunities here for instruction.


Sphere 2 Document Camera Modes – This 6:00 minute video will go over the various modes you can set on your document camera and how it impacts the display. The 300 AF+ has text or motion mode. The 300 AFHD has text, motion, microscope and graphic modes. ****The motion mode will greatly reduce the delay when you are working under the document camera.