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What is a Visualiser?

Visualiser A visualiser is a powerful digital camera device that points downwards. It is connected to an LCD projector and/or your computer, enabling the teacher or presenter to display objects, documents, pictures etc with superb clarity. Most visualisers allow you to zoom in and out, and when connected to a PC capture the image as a digital photograph or a video clip. Some also allow you to freeze the image on screen, so allowing you to remove the object while it continues being displayed. You may even be able to then split the screen and therefore display two objects at once, to compare and contrast.

Another feature available on some visualisers is ‘negative’ (which transforms the image into a negative, therefore if you place a photographic negative under the visualiser it can be viewed as a ‘positive’ photograph.)  Some allow you to ‘scroll’ by using a button to move the camera slowly up or down the image so that you can scroll through the text being displayed. You may also be able to switch between colour and black and white display.

How Can it be Used in School?

Example of imageDepending on the visualiser you have, it can be used from the very simple – eg to display the page of a book on your screen, to the more advanced, eg zooming right in on an object to observe its features is immense detail. It is a great way of sharing pupils’ work with the class, and is quick and easy to use as all you have to do is place something under the camera for it to be presented on the screen. It also is very useful for visually impaired pupils as the images can be magnified. A visualiser means no more crowding round a desk to watch a demonstration or observe an object.

Some examples of use include:

  • Numeracy: place coins under the visualiser to practise counting money. Easily add and remove coins to change the amount.
  • Literacy: display the page of a book and zoom in on particular paragraphs or words.
  • Science: use the zoom to display an insect in great detail to observe its features.
  • History: display artefacts to the class quickly and easily.
  • Geography: display maps, zoom in on particular features and symbols.
  • Music: display sheet music and zoom in on features such as clef, key signature, rests etc.
  • Art: use the visualiser to highlight different brush stroke techniques in great detail.
  • Assembly: if you have a projector in your assembly hall you can use a visualiser to present certificates, good work etc. to the whole school.
Here, a Year 2 teacher at St. Peter's School in St. Albans describes how she has used a visualiser:

"We found many ways to use it in the classroom. For science, we were examining the variety of leaves in our school field, so we collected a bundle and looked up close at them on the visualiser. The class was very impressed!
We also had a lesson of 'show and tell' and the class each placed their item on the visualiser, and everyone could see it really clearly.They were able to point out details on photographs, books, drawings etc.
In music we placed one of our sing along books on the visualiser, and everyone learnt the words very quickly!
I was able to display children's work, and point out spellings, neat handwriting and punctuation."

How Much Does it Cost?

VisualiserVisualisers come in different shapes and sizes with a range of functionality from basic to highly sophisticated.

An example of a low cost visualiser is the EasiView from TTS. This is a very basic no-frills document camera which nevertheless offers much of the functionality required in the primary classroom. They cost around £99 EX VAT. Lower cost models generally have lower maximum zooms (or no zoom) and do not have the illuminated ‘flat bed’ of the higher priced models. Some also require manual focusing.

Mid-range models are usually around £350 - £600. These have more powerful zooms, more features and some of them have the ‘flat bed’ on which to lay the items being displayed. These flat beds can usually be illuminated from above or below. Some mid-priced visualisers have automatic focus. 

Higher priced models start at around £750 and go up and up. These models have more features, more powerful zooms and automatic focusing. When considering the price range for you, think about how you will use the device, and what you want to achieve from its use.

What is Available?

Some of the suppliers of visualisers are listed on the BESA website

Visualiser Case Study

Cunningham Hill Infants School Drawing of a Kiwi began 2007 Autumn Term with plenty of enthusiasm for their new visualiser resource and were keen to introduce it to Year 2. This was where the WOW factor came in. All the children were very enthusiastic and wanted to try all sorts of ideas on the visualiser. More...

St Lukes School in Redbourn is a Special School for children and young people with moderate learning difficulties and associated needs. Recently a number of the classrooms have been equipped with GeneeVision 6100 Visualisers. More...

Online Visualiser Training

The Hertfordshire ICT Team has created an online visualiser training module in iLearn, called '30 Ways to use a Visualiser' which is available to users for £25. An iLearn account is needed which is free to create for Hertfordshire employees. Click here to go to iLearn 



For more information or help, contact Chris Carter at Herts for Learning.
Tel: 01438 843918

Disclaimer: images used on this page are for illustration purposes only and do not represent any recommendation.