Webcams

What are they good for?!

Webcams are an often overlooked asset in the classroom.

These days, most computers have a webcam built in. These can be put to a variety of good uses, but don't throw away that standalone webcam, they can come in handy too!

Check out the ideas and links below to get more out of your webcam, for yourself, and your students.

Standalone Webcams

Webcams connected to a USB cable vary in quality, but even the oldest cam can be put to some use. Built in webcams are often restricted in their use by their position on the laptop / computer. With a standalone webcam you can be much more creative!

Two good examples of standalone webcams follow.

HueHD

One of my favourite standalone cams is the HueHD. These can be bought online for less than £40 on Amazon.

From my own personal experience, I know that Hue offer great customer service too and the camera is both robust and easy to use.

IPEVO

Another interesting cam which comes with a variety of optional extras such as an adaptor for a standard microscope eyepiece lens, a magnifying lens attachment and an angle-poise clamp/stand is the IPEVO.

Making Use Of Your Webcam

Make An Animated GIF

An animated gif is a typically a small image file which cycles through all of the images taken in a sequence, it's a bit like a "flick-book". One of the easiest ways to create one is via a neat website called GIFPAL - one word of caution, while the site specifically prohibits the uploading of obscenities, just like YouTube, there can be some unsavoury thumbnails on display on the webpage which may be tempting for your students to click on and view so check it out first and use your judgement as to whether this is just something you want to use or if you would be happy for your students to use it.

Story-scenes / processes or simple revision tips can be animated within minutes and shared by uploading and sharing the URL for the clip. An example I prepared using the HueHD webcam can be seen here.

It's totally free and there is no need to register or sign up!

Create A Comic Strip

With Chogger, an online free comic strip tool, you can incorporate your own images captured via the webcam with photos from the internet, shapes and text etc to create your own comic strip about anything - again, the products can be chared by simply uploading to the website and sharing the URL. No sign-up required!

You can search for existing strips, and of course some of them will not be what you want your students to be looking at but there are some good simple examples to illustrate what can be done such as Garfield's Scientific Method and Photosynthesis!

Use Your Webcam As A Cheap Document Viewer

There are a couple of websites (see the links below for Pixect and Fotofriend) which can enable you to do this, but there is also a neat program that you can install on your memory stick (it just runs from there so you don't need "Admin Priviledge" to install new software) which is a plain and simple webcam display tool which I quite like using. You can find instructions for installation here and the following link is a direct to the WebCam Viewer free download.

In my experience this standalone program, held on my memorystick, has enabled me to quickly and easily access webcams even on other people's computers without internet access so is really quite handy!

Create and Edit Photos

The best tool I've found for this which allows lots of basic edits without registering (although free registration brings a lot more access to different fonts and objects) is: Ribbet you can edit and add to photos here which you could save and use when making your comic strips etc. It can also act as a simple document viewer and you could add "stars" to indicate good bits of work which could then be saved and printed for later use?

Other Sites

About Me

Jon Haines

Secondary Science Initial Teacher Trainer / Lecturer

Newcastle University