My IPEVO setup for a Pi Day activity.
A little more than a year ago, I received an IPEVO Point 2 View USB Document Camera for serving on my school district's Technology Committee. If you haven't heard of IPEVO before, they are definitely worth a look (especially with a price tag of $69, making it feasible to purchase your own personal doc cam if you choose to do so) and make a collection of other products intended for educators and businesses.

I signed up for the company's program, called Wishpool, that gives away products to educators who show that they could effectively utilize the product in their classrooms. They ask for some contact information to confirm you are an educator and a brief response as to why they should make your wish come true and should receive their product of the month.

My wish was granted in early March and I received an IPEVO WS-01 Wireless Station for iPad and USB Document Cameras, which allows me to use the free IPEVO Whiteboard app from the App Store to quickly and easily display the live view from the document camera to show a demonstration, example, or other image to be shared with the class. On their iPad, users access the wireless signal broadcast by the WS-01, so they can tap into the live view or even take a still shot of what is seen. I was impressed to find that zooming in/out and panning around the camera shot is the same intuitive interface that makes the iPad so user-friendly by reputation. Nice job, IPEVO, in this aspect of your app's design.

One of the most obvious benefits of this product is that it is not confined to a single location in the classroom, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for math, science, social studies, and reading classrooms. Students can easily display their work to the entire class without having to awkwardly contort a dry erase board so everyone else can see their results, or crowd around a single lab setup where the students at the back of the crowd miss out, or point vaguely at a map and miss out on detail, or highlight a reading passage to one another when only one document is available. These all become available with this setup in the classroom in a quick, easy, and affordable manner.

A screenshot from an example I did with the IPEVO Whiteboard app.
Another inventive feature for use with the iPad is the fact that the WS-01 has a dedicated SD card slot on board. This makes memory card access from the iPad simple and practical in a number of situations, allowing the use and sharing of files on an SD card without otherwise tying up the dock connector on the iPad (which allows you to continue projecting, whereas the Apple Camera Connection Kit would require use of the 30-pin dock connector on the iPad). For the sake of continuity in the classroom, this convenience is a great piece of forward thinking.

The IPEVO WS-01 also works easily with PC & Mac computers to project a live view from the camera. Showing examples in the classroom is no longer limited to the reach of the document camera's cord. I would appreciate this convenience but have only dabbled in it enough to raise my eyebrows appreciatively and wait for the next time I'll need to utilize the feature (NOTE: I received this product in the midst of a struggle of projecting from my old school-issued MacBook, so having access to an iPad app that allowed me to work with a document camera was a saving grace). Being able to use the IPEVO Point 2 View camera in a wireless setting but still use my computer could prove rather convenient when considering screencasting potential in the near future.

As far as negatives go on this product, I have a hard time coming up with any downs. One thing I expected to see within the IPEVO Whiteboard app was the possibility to capture a live video clip, but that is the wishful screencaster in me speaking (and I also realize this is different if using the IPEVO Ziggi-HD camera instead of the IPEVO Point 2 View camera). Perhaps in a future update of the app, this could be included, but I am exploring other options to allow me to record through another app that does not have all the functionality that the IPEVO Whiteboard app DOES have. The other critique I came up with was the amount of battery life the WS-01 has, but after considering my thoughts more carefully, I am encouraged to find that I have already used it so much that I have to remember to plug the unit in when I leave school so that I may use it the next day. Also, the fact it is beaming a wireless signal continuously while providing power to a USB camera makes me relax a bit more. All things considered, it does a pretty good job at almost getting me through an entire school day without powering the unit down from one class period to the next. The unit has a built-in USB dongle that can allow for charging via USB on your computer, as well as a lengthy cord to its AC adapter (roughly 5 feet long) which is noted to be the only power adapter used for wall-outlet power for the unit.

My daughters have had fun "playing school" with this device as well. I've included a couple of screenshots from our lesson last night on measuring objects around the house (to the nearest half inch). We were able to use the WS-01 on a countertop in the kitchen, out of reach of their 2-year old sister and pinch-to-zoom as well as pan around the image to add a little clarity to specific measurements of the crayon and colored pencil we used.

All in all, I'm incredibly grateful for having the opportunity to implement this document camera setup in my classroom at such a small price. The IPEVO Wishpool program made it possible, so I want to include a note of thanks to them for not only a fine product line, but also for their continued support of educators. If you have the time, I highly recommend taking a look at the latest offering on the IPEVO Wishpool website, but moreso taking a browse around IPEVO's website at some of the unique classroom-friendly, budget-conscious products they offer.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go make sure I've plugged in my equipment so it is charged up for class tomorrow.