Mr Finlayson

Education and Technology

Webcams – more than meets the digital eye!

Posted by alexfinlayson on June 18, 2009

An easy solution to a common problem!

I love my webcam!

I bought a good one (Logitech Quickcam Pro) to keep in touch with family and friends back over in blighty but I’ve ended up using it more in and for school than anything else.


There are some great features that come with the software – digital imaging effects, filters and add-ons (which can all be downloaded with upgrades) all of which are great for lessons but if you don’t have the same software then it is pointless me writing about that.

Instead I’m going to comment on a way I regularly use my webcam in class.

A visiting ‘somebody’ (one of those random people principals always seem to be showing around schools) saw me doing this the other day and said how unusual and great they thought it was. So in the off-chance you’ve never considered this, here it is…

Live Video Art Lessons

This use of my webcam came about when I had a class of 35 a few years ago – I had a nightmare getting them all around one table to demonstrate artistic techniques.

I solved this problem by rigging up the webcam above my shoulder and aiming it at my art pad – the live video on the IWB allowed the students to see in real-time (and great detail) how to complete the work as  I demonstrated from the front of the class.

The quality of the webcam does have a large impact on the quaity of the image on the screen but you can get round this by substituting a black art pen for a pencil – the line becomes much more pronounced on screen. In fact, the inability to see fine detail in pencil-work is the only draw-back I’ve found with this.

Also, if you record as you go – you can create art videos using Windows Movie Maker (sorry, I love it) which can be looped on-screen as the students work and then uploaded onto a class website as tutorials.



My grade 5 class recently did an art unit on creating caricature self-portraits (we also played around with digital avatars) As you can see in the picture (a screen-shot from a FlipVideo recording) I’m sat at the front of the class with the webcam over my shoulder; displaying the image on my art pad as I draw.

I showed the guys the techniques in a session before lunch and created the following video during the break (it literally took 5 minutes- I left it running when I went for a coffee – I’m one of those teachers that does not like to miss his coffee!) When lunch was over, I looped the video and the guys created their *ahem* masterpieces! (excuse the AC/DC – we love it)





2 Responses to “Webcams – more than meets the digital eye!”

  1. tammy butow said

    i love this idea it is fantastic! I used graphics tablets and jing to record and playback but never thought of this one. Excellent cheap alternative to a document camera

    • alexfinlayson said

      Thank you Tammy, I’ve never had the pleasure of using graphic tablets before and I’ve never heard of Jing but I’m definately going to have a look. This method really has opened up my art lessons and the improvements are sensational – I post all videos on the class website and I love it when the kids come to school with work they did at home; guided by one of the tutorials – great stuff!

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