Pennsylvania District Encourages Learning through Hands-On Technology Use
Susquehanna County Career and Tech Center/Elk Lake School
Supporting seven schools within Elk Lake School District, a rural K-12 district with approximately 1,500 students, the Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center (CTC) serves close to 400 students in two semester-long sessions. The CTC provides exposure to a variety of career fields, including business education, cosmetology, culinary arts, automotive technology, carpentry/cabinet making, and building and property management (i.e., plumbing, electrical & heating). Through these six different departments or "shops," students learn essential career-oriented skills to achieve success in the workforce.
As the technology coordinator and business education teacher at the CTC, Dan McGrath is responsible for assessing the Center's technology needs, making necessary purchases, and training staff on proper use and implementation of new tools. After reviewing existing technology, McGrath recognized that the CTC needed new document cameras that were more user-friendly.
"We had purchased different document cameras in the past, but needed something more compact and flexible for the classroom," said McGrath. "Since the cameras are used in all of our shops, we really needed a product that not only was durable, but also user-friendly to make implementation quick and easy."
Considering these specific needs, McGrath searched for new equipment that could not only withstand use in multiple classrooms, but also provide real-time presentations or demonstrations in a format suitable for the entire classroom. In addition, he wanted a product that would help teachers enhance lessons and increase student participation.
After completing his research, McGrath purchased a quantity of Califone DiggidittoTM (DC596) Smart Document Cameras. The Diggiditto enables educators to engage the entire class by providing a complete audio-visual experience. Once connected to a computer, the camera's proprietary software allows the Diggiditto to be used as a content development tool by recording movies, recognizing saved images, and linking sounds to a file for playback in teacher- or student-created presentations.
The Diggiditto also has a detachable camera with an internal microphone for audio-video recording, as well as a USB connection for computer compatibility. With USB connectivity, the document camera can display presentations onto a screen, TV, whiteboard, or PDP screen in real-time.
"The Diggiditto helps save a lot of time getting images into classroom presentations," said McGrath. "By using the document cameras developed by Califone, our teachers are able to project information or demonstrate lessons instantly on screen."
"We're lucky to have such a supportive director at the CTC. Since he understands and appreciates the importance of technology, funds are already budgeted for these kind of purchases," McGrath continued. "After the new document cameras arrived, we decided to host technology training days before the school year began to familiarize all of our teachers with the new product."
The training days allowed McGrath and a fellow business education teacher to showcase how the Diggiditto can be used in more non-traditional ways, including creating short videos, taking snapshots, and developing on-screen demonstrations. They also emphasized that the document cameras would help teachers save time spent creating other materials (e.g., transparencies) since they can display images and presentations instantly.
"We've definitely received positive feedback from our staff," replied McGrath. "They've been impressed with the product, and have really utilized the document cameras in the classroom. Since preparation isn't required to use the product in class, teachers are able to share information or demonstrate ideas in real-time. As they're discussing a topic, they have the ability to stop and show their students an instant visual example."
achers from all "shops" at the CTC use the Diggiditto document cameras most often with classroom smart boards, which allow them to display presentations or supplemental materials to enhance daily lessons. "Since the cameras are more compact, they're very easy to use," said McGrath. "They're also flexible enough to easily remove from the attached stand and be moved around. This adaptability has really proven to be helpful when using the cameras together with the smart boards."
The camera's live camera and picture-taking functionality is especially beneficial during after-school tutorials. By providing short videos or demonstrations from prior presentations, CTC educators are able to review curriculum material from their daily classes and reinforce the lessons their students have learned.
Diggiditto™ Smart Document Camera