As students and administrators seek anytime, anywhere access to the cloud, higher ed IT teams must face their fears and get to work.
In my experience as a technology coordinator, the name Elmo has become synonymous with document cameras. Many teachers I work with refer to their document camera as their Elmo, even if it's from another manufacturer.
The company continues to innovate with the TT–12, the latest addition to its "Teacher's Tool" line of document cameras. I didn't test Elmo's CRA–1 wireless tablet, which can be bundled with the TT–12, but the documentation on Elmo's website made me want to see for myself just how powerful a fully integrated solution could be.
Any instructor who has worked with an overhead transparency projector will adapt quickly to the TT–12, which is extraordinarily easy to use. The arm on which the document camera is mounted is fully adjustable, giving users the flexibility to capture almost any type of image they'd like from almost any angle. And the images the TT–12 produces are bright and razor-sharp, thanks to its 3.4-megapixel CMOS sensor, 12x optical- and 8x digital-zoom features.
Zooming and one-touch autofocusing are possible through controls embedded on the arm and via a companion remote control, which also enables video and audio recording, playback, split screens, highlighting and content masking. Classroom demonstrations can be saved as still JPEG or MP4 video files and then posted in the school's learning management system for later viewing. The video files that I recorded were very smooth, given their frame rate of 30 frames per second.
The TT–12's presentation support tools are equally helpful to teachers. The mask feature, for example, allows them to hide areas of the document they aren't yet ready to show to students during a lesson. The split-screen feature allows them to show two images simultaneously — before and after images, for example, or still versus live images.
IT departments will find that setting up and supporting the Elmo TT–12 is a breeze. Users can save files on a USB flash drive or SD memory card and input from a notebook computer or output to a projector via a VGA connector. They may have to adjust the TT–12's output resolution, depending on the type of device to which they're connecting. I used the default setting — 1080p (1920x1080) — but other options include 720p (1280x720), SXGA, WXGA, XGA and NTSC/PAL.
Because the device is so easy to use, IT staff will likely have to do little, if any, training with teachers and staff. The included documentation is very thorough and provides excellent examples.
I'm not especially fond of the Image Mate software that's used to capture images and movies when connected via USB cable. The software looks rather dated, and it crashed after I recorded a 15-minute video, which it lost.
Additionally, the camera arm takes some getting used to. It has a 300-degree swivel and can be positioned in nearly every angle one might need. Yet, sometimes it wouldn't turn the way I felt it should. Once the camera reaches the stopping point for going clockwise, for example, it must be turned counterclockwise instead of continuing forward.