As webmaster and an active tech teacher, I am sometimes asked to review products for my readers. Since
I don’t work for the company doing the asking and receive no compensation (other than the product), I am able to provide an unbiased review of my experiences and conclusions based on the 400 students I teach.
Recently, I had the opportunity to review Learning Resource’s Luna™ Interactive Projection Camera. I don’t have a document camera in my classroom and there are times when I would trade all the chocolate in my snack drawer for the ability to share a 3D object or picture with students. So, when Learning Resource’s marketing group asked, I quickly agreed. The box arrived containing the projection camera, a CD with the Easi-View software, and a few pages of documentation (very very brief).
The projection camera is a lightweight, gooseneck contraption exactly like the inset shows. It has a sturdy base that includes a snapshot button, a light and the microphone, and a wide head that holds the camera. I wanted to test the intuitiveness of installation so rather than read the directions, I just jumped in. The cord was obviously for a USB port, so I popped that into my computer, loaded the CD and started. Easy-view installed quickly with no hitches. Here’s a screen shot:
My school was in the middle of accreditation (which went well), so I didn’t have a lot of time to play. I decided to experiment as the need arose. In most cases, the process was easy to figure out, and worked as I hoped it would. Here’s a run down of how I used the Luna during the first two weeks:
- I took a picture of a magazine page, saved it to a file folder and shared it with students on my smartscreen.
- The art teacher wanted to document her student artwork. We slipped the sometimes bulky projects under the camera, took a picture and saved it to student digital portfolios. No problems.
- I wanted to share a video with teachers on how to create email distribution lists. I twisted the gooseneck so the camera faced my screen, narrated the steps while I performed them and saved the video to our school internal Moodle site. Yes, I could have done this with Jing (for free), but then I wouldn’t retain control of the resulting video. And, I wanted to see how this sort of documentation worked with my new toy.
- One of the kindergarten teachers borrowed it to create a video on how to use a set of manipulatives, then played it on her smartscreen for students to replicate
- Part of my tech training for 5th graders is problem solving. I taped students solving a variety of problems and uploaded them to a resource page that all grades could access. The students enjoyed making the movies and loved the idea of a library of problem solutions.
- I had a non-techie teacher use the Luna to share a poem with her students. For those more comfortable with computers, this could have been done by typing the poem in Word, then displaying it on the smartscreen, but this teacher was less intimidated by being able to put the poem under Luna’s camera and have it show up on the screen. She even pointed out parts of the poem with her finger that students should pay special attention to.
- Here’s my favorite: The same non-techie teacher I mentioned above had the most amazing use of Luna I’ve seen. Using the Luna document camera to share live action, she put her hand inside a newly-carved pumpkin during our school chapel to show the assembly how the inside of the pumpkin was tangled and mushy (she tied that into man’s journey, but it’s a long story I’ll save for later). This came across on Luna as no video could do–seeing her fingers squish through the stringy, squishy, seedy insides. The entire kindergarten eewed in unison!
I did find one drawback to the Luna. Despite its intuitive nature, I think a bit more documentation would be welcome. It took me some effort to figure out the web camera, and I didn’t know what the extra pluggy thing on the cord was because I didn’t understand the terminology in the booklet. I googled Luna, found a video from the manufacturer on Amazon, got quite excited (I thought I’d found the answer to all my questions), but it covered only basics. A demonstration of Luna’s web camera and mic for teachers who aren’t as tech savvy as others would be welcome.
Overall, I found it a great value for the price. Comparable document cameras are twice as much. This served my needs just fine. Anyone have feedback of your own to share? I’d love to hear.
Note to readers: Luna has a special needs option, but I had no occasion to use it so I can’t report on its effectiveness.
Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office, WordDreams, or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.