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Classroom cameras have been around for a fair old while now, and it always surprises me that many colleagues still shy away from them.
I have used them to zoom in on salmon eggs to see the embryos moving inside and to enlarge texts for students with visual impairments.
I’ve demonstrated objects, modelled stop motion animation, shown and assessed students’ work, and even whipped one out in staff meetings to explain forms.
A colleague of mine recently did a class ‘selfie’ using one – but then, he would. He’s the same teacher who used it for time-lapse photography, too, and featured it on the school website.
In short, as a piece of inexpensive and versatile technology, classroom cameras really are worth investigating. The choice has never been better, and it’s exciting to see how ‘camera on a stick technology’ has evolved.
One product that could get your pulse racing is the HUE HD Pro Camera. It weighs less than the jumper I’m wearing at 570g, and comes in a choice of red, blue, green and black. But there is so much more to it apart from being lightweight and aesthetically pleasing.
To be accurate, this isn’t just a camera, it’s a USB camera and visualiser – which means that whilst you do handstands, cartwheels, scissor kicks and a quad twist if you want, this versatile plug and play device can record it all, as well as scan A4 documents and project them onto a whiteboard.
When you open up the box, what you get is the HUE HD Pro Camera, the camera base, USB to mini-USB cable, installation instructions and a single user licence for some software.
It shares many of the features of its older sibling the HUE HD camera, but this version is called the ‘Pro’. To earn that title, it comes with a new design for the head and base and some brand new software too.
The cameras certainly look like they are from the same family, but there are obvious differences. The head of the Pro is squarer-looking and contains the manual focusing ring, a camera light and an integrated microphone.
The innovative flexible gooseneck – which you can disconnect, plugging it directly into a laptop rather than using it in its base – is around the 30cm mark. As good as it is for movement, though, I’d like to see a longer one. I’m not talking a sauropod neck necessarily, but just something with a bit more reach.
Some teachers will tell you it’s all about ‘the marking’. Others will say it’s all about ‘behaviour management’. But from a classroom camera point of view it is all about ‘the base’. Or at least it used to be. The base of the camera was often the thing that let the camera down – literally, as they often weren’t robust enough.
Thankfully that’s not an issue here. The oblong base is up to the job, and also features a handy light indicator that shows when it’s receiving power.
When buying a camera you’ll looking for a brilliant high resolution picture, as image quality is everything. I have no complaints regarding the HUE Pro as the images and videos it produces are excellent. The sound is spot-on too, with no issues regarding clarity.
I didn’t run my car over it but the camera seems physically strong enough. It survived being knocked off my desk accidentally, and I dare say would make it through much worse.
Even though this gem is supremely easy to use, it does come with some specially designed downloadable software called HUE Intuition, which allows you to get to grips with the full functionality of the camera with ease.
The software is very exciting, because it allows you to record video and sound and save movies locally, email or upload to YouTube. You can annotate any images you take, save them as JPG/BMP/PNG/GIF files take multiple images over time. This is clever stuff, and for £44.95 ex VAT you’d be a brave soul to grumble.
Some people say that lessons are more purposeful, engaging and rigorous to students when they involve real world examples, and they’d be right. Classroom cameras are the bee’s knees – indeed, you could use one to show actual bees’ knees – and allow you to build in lots of opportunities for collaboration, sharing and interactive work.
In terms of the engagement factor, using a HUE Pro Camera is ideal for getting together, getting focused and getting down to the business of learning.
Use the HUE HD Pro as a basic microscope, use it for student presentations, Vlogging, video chats with other schools, or whatever you like – but just get one. It offers more than a fixed webcam ever could, and may well open your eyes to the possibilities of teaching things differently than before.
Reviewed by John Dabell
Teachwire visitors can get exclusive special offers from Hue. Simply head to huehd.com/teachco.
Click here to find out more about school orders and check out Hue’s vast range of products at huehd.com/shop. You can also see what awards its products have won, here.
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