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. These can use A+ Interactive software, Sphere 1 or Sphere 2 software.

A Plus Sphere ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

The A+ Interactive software is older software that may already be installed on your computer. It has a totally different look and feel than the Sphere software and can sometimes freeze. We recommend that you are using version 1.7. Click here to get the downloaded software A+ 1.7 without Bonjour. In the Printable Resources section below there are several handouts that might help you as well as seven videos near the bottom of the page.

Sphere 1 is approved software that can be downloaded and used with your AverVision document camera. There is significant difference between the A+ Interactive software which we have been using and the new Sphere 1. So it is highly recommended that you download and explore the new software while continuing to use the A+ with instruction until you are comfortable with the changes. Click here for the Sphere 1 download. There are five videos at the bottom of this page with descriptions that you can use during this exploration. Also there is one printable document (Using Sphere with Your AverVision Document Camera) that will give some basic directions for the use of Sphere and your document camera.

Sphere 2 is the next generation of document camera software from Aver. If you are used to using Sphere 1 there is a learning curve with this new software, but if you install Sphere 2 it will overwrite Sphere 1. So it is recommended that you look over the Sphere 2 Handout and the provided videos below to see how it can be used before loading Sphere 2. Click here to see the list of supported document cameras for Sphere 2 and if your model is not listed you cannot use this software. Click for the Sphere 2 software.

**** Do not feel that you must update the software if you are comfortable with what you are using. All three versions will work, but we want to make you aware there are options.


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 A+ Interactive software, Sphere 1 or Sphere 2 that may not have been in the box when originally purchased. The software links are above in the descriptions or below in the Equipment Needed list.

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
  • A+ Suite
  • Sphere 1 Software
  • Sphere 2 Software (If you use Internet Explorer to download this file you may get a signature corrupt or invalid message. If you do use Firefox to download the file.)
  • computer
  • data projector

ISTE Standards•S (formerly the NETS )

Tutorials and Resources

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

This Articulate file will walk you through the process of using the document camera with the A+ Interactive software to create short instructional videos.

Printable Resources

Avervision 300AF+ Instructions using A+ Interactive Software

Inserting Documents from Your Document Camera into ActivInspire

A+ Capture, A+ Record_1.5

A+ OCR_Virtual Transparency

Using the Smart Cart v2

Using Sphere 1 with Your AverVision Document Camera


Video Resources for the A+ Interactive Software

Document Camera Basics – This eighteen minute video will cover some of the basics of the document camera and the A+ Interactive software.  This is the best place to start if you have never used or are uncomfortable with using a document camera.

AverVision Single Normal Capture – This five minute video will show you how to capture a single picture (jpeg) of what is under the document camera. This camera does not capture the tools in A+ Interactive software, it only captures what is happening under the document camera.

AverVision Record – This eight minute video will show how to use the AverVision camera to record a video (avi) of what is happening under the document camera as well as the audio. This camera does not record the tools in A+ Interactive software, it only captures what is happening under the document camera.

AverVision Continuous Capture – This twelve minute video will show you how to set up the AverVision camera to take pictures (jpeg) for a span of up to 72 hours, taking pictures from every 5 seconds to 6 hours. These jpegs can then be put into Windows Live Movie Maker and turned into a stop action movie.

A+ Capture – This eight minute video will show you how to capture pictures (jpeg) using the A+ Interactive software tools along with whatever is under the document camera for future student use.

A+ Record – This eight minute video will show you how to capture video (avi) and audio of whatever is happening under the document camera along with what tools you have used from the A+ Interactive software. This is great to use for re-teaching content for those who need extra help or as an introduction if a student has been absent.

Virtual Transparency Mode – This five minute video will share how to use the virtual transparency mode over top of the other software applications that are loaded on your computer. This example uses the Internet, but it can be used for any software.

Video Resources for the Sphere 1 Software

Sphere Basics – This seventeen minute video will cover the basics of the document camera and the Sphere software. If you are used to the A+ Interactive software the look and feel of Sphere is totally different and this is the place to start to understand the differences and to put the power back into the software.

Sphere Settings– This six minute video will show you how to set up the default save location for all JPEGs and video. This is an important step since you will not be prompted where to save documents as you create them, this needs to be done in advanced.

Sphere Capture– This five minute video will show you how to capture JPEGs either choosing full screen (annotations included) or just what is under the document camera.

Sphere Record– This eleven minute video will give you the steps in the process of recording what is happening under the document camera, audio and any annotations that you used in the lesson. These videos can be played within the Sphere software or via Windows Media Player. This is a great tool for flipping your classroom or just creating video for introduction or re-teaching.

Sphere Time Lapse– This eight minute movie will show you how to take continuous capture pictures using the Sphere software. It will briefly explain how to get these JPEGs into Windows Live Movie Maker to make them into a stop action video.

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.