Classroom Technology

Classroom Technology icon.

With a hybrid model expected for the Fall 2020 semester, some classroom technology may be availabe to instructors on campus; however, there may also be some uses and alternatives for the same technology in a remote teaching scenario. In some cases, technology may also be available to borrow and/or rent.



Availability: Both teaching hubs and majority of classrooms
Available to Borrow: Yes

Description of Technology

Blu-ray is an optical disc format designed to display high definition video and store large amounts of data. Many classrooms have a Blu-ray player installed with the audio-visual equipment. This device allows playback of video and audio from Blu-ray discs, DVD discs, and compact discs (CD audio). These devices also have the capability of plugging in a portable USB stick for audio or video playback. Blu-ray players are useful pedagogical tools for displaying films, documentaries, or other related videos.

How it is used?

Blu-ray players are not stand-alone units. These devices require a connection to a display medium—such as a monitor, TV, or classroom display system (projector). The classrooms at U of G contain projector(s) or monitor(s), and the audio components are broadcast though the classroom sound system.


Blue-ray player.


To use the Blu-ray player:

  1. Select Blu-ray in the classroom source selection on the AV control panel.
  2. Place the Blu-ray disc in the player and close the tray.
  3. Use the controls on the AV touch panel classroom control system or the front panel of the Blu-ray player. These controls can be used to navigate through the disc’s menu by selecting items in the disc navigation (chapters, scenes, different audio features, etc.). You can pinpoint the particular subject item you want to present to the audience. This saves time, displaying only the required material to the class.

Blu-Ray Player Controls 

Play   Begins playback of video
Pause  Pauses video playback 
Fast Forward Quickly forwards through video or audio 
Rewind Quickly reverses through video or audio 
Forward Skip Goes to the next scene or audio file 
Reverse Skip  Goes to the previous scene or audio file 
Stop  Stops playback
Navigation Arrows  Navigates through the menu on the disc
Eject  Opens and closes tray to insert or remove disc

Subtitles and/or Closed Captioning

Many Blu-ray and DVD discs have subtitles and/or closed captioning built into the videos. This feature is ideal to accommodate and include those who have a cognitive or hearing impairment. If you experience difficulty finding this, please seek help from Classroom Technical Support; the team is happy to assist you.

Availability of Media

See the Univerity of Guelph Library Video & Audio page for instructional use. 

Why should you use it?

A Blu-ray player can use video to demonstrate experiments, teach procedures, and show other video content for courses like drama, film critics, and language classes.

Features of Blu-ray DVD include:

  • Instant search for any video segment
  • High-quality video playback
  • Consistent video playback over time (no deterioration of quality)
  • Special features included on the disc
  • Consistent pause and shut down (unlike video tape)
  • Multiple languages and a subtitle feature
  • Durable physical characteristics

Several instructors at both pre-and post secondary institutions report having better student engagement scores and retention of materials when presented using video-based explanations. Sources listed below describe how this is effective in the post-secondary /higher education sphere:

Use in Remote Teaching

Certain laptop computers will have a built-in Blu-ray player which can be used for teaching from home; the video can be shared on screen. If your computer is Blu-ray compatible, it will have a little Blu-ray sticker. You can also access your computer's system settings to check whether your optical drive/disc player is made up of a Blu-ray drive.

If your computer does not have a Blu-ray disc player, there are several manufacturers that sell them online—such as Verbatim, Asus, OSGEAR, LG, and Pioneer. They vary in cost, starting at around $100. You will need software in order to play a Blu-ray disc. You will also need to check to see if your computer can display the appropriate resolution and has the proper components. There is software available that can check your computer for Blu-ray compatibility.

Alternatives for Remote Teaching

An alternative to showing video on a Blue-ray player is to try and find an online digital version of the video. The University Library may be able to help you access a digital version of the video. You may be able to ask the creator of the Blu-ray content if they have an online version or you may be able to get permission to transfer the information into a digital online format yourself. You would need to get the permission in writing; otherwise, this would be copyright infringement.

If you really need to show a video on Blu-ray but have no other options, you may consider recording the Blu-ray player that is hooked up to your TV. Position your webcam so the TV screen is clearly visible and in focus. This will require the position of the camera to be relatively square (90 degrees) in relation to the TV screen. Be aware of things that may reflect off the TV screen affecting image quality—such as windows and lights, your own reflection, and the webcam. Make sure there is adequate volume. On the other hand, it may be a video where you want to comment as it plays. If this is the case, you can continue to make comments into your microphone while the video is displayed on your webcam.

Document Cameras 

Availability: Both teaching hubs and majority of classrooms
Available to Borrow: Yes

What is a document camera?

A document camera is a stand-alone device, which, in real time, displays a variety of objects on whichever display device it is connected to. It is literally a video camera on an arm pointed at a stage on the desk. It is also known as a visual presenter, which, considering it’s function, is a more comprehensive title, but most simply call it a doc cam.

At the University of Guelph, you will find one in virtually every smart classroom on campus. It will be on either the teaching station or a dedicated rolling cart. In OVC, there are several ceiling mounted document cameras as well.

When paired with a data projector, as is the case in our smart classrooms, whatever is placed on the stage is displayed on the projection screen. While the primary function of a doc cam is to display documents (hence the name), it can be used in many creative ways. Some common examples would be:

  • Replacing an overhead projector by placing any document on the stage in the same manner as you would a transparency (including a transparency)
  • Replacing a whiteboard or chalkboard by writing in real time on a document on the stage
  • Displaying real objects that traditionally might be passed amongst the audience
  • Doubling as a low magnification microscope to show small items in detail
  • Showing large or oddball objects by rotating the camera head to point off the stage (a napping audience member for example)

These features bring versatility to the classroom. You can present images or documents that you may have on hand but have not yet incorporated into your presentation. You may also display work done by others in the class, annotate documents in real time, or take up exam questions.

Using the Document Camera

document camera.At the University of Guelph, virtually all of our smart classrooms have a document camera.

To use the document camera:

  1. Start the presentation system in the classroom.
  2. Select doc cam on the classroom touch panel.
  3. Power on the doc cam using the slide type power switch on the upper right of the stage. In dual projection classrooms, you can assign the doc cam to either or both screens. At this point, you should be seeing the doc cam stage on whichever screen(s) you have selected on the touch panel.

Diagram Labels:

  1. Camera Head
  2. Lamp Head
  3. Lamp Arm
  4. Camera Arm
  5. Infrared Receiver
  6. Control Panel
  7. Stage

There are two arms on the unit—one holds the actual camera above the stage, the other holds the lamp. The arm that holds the camera has two pivot points—one where the arm meets the stage, the other where the camera head is mounted to the arm. The normal position is the arm fully up with the camera head pointed directly down. There is a detent on the head pivot for easy alignment.

User controls on the front edge of the doc cam enable common and advanced functions. Most, but not all, of the doc cams that you will encounter at the University of Guelph are the Elmo P10. Below are instructions that pertain to the P10, but other doc cams will have similar features.

  • Lamp - A push button switch is located on the top centre of the control panel; push and hold to turn on. The lamp is on a separate arm from the cameral head and provides illumination of the stage. It is movable in order to provide the best light for your image.
  • Brightness - Directly beneath the lamp button are two dual purpose buttons marked with up and down arrows. During normal mode these can be used to adjust the brightness of the image displayed.
  • Zoom and Focus - On the right side of the control panel is a disc-style control with a push button marked AF in the centre. Rotating the disc to the right and left will zoom the image in and out. The zoom can be very useful in examining some remarkably small items in relatively fine detail (16× optical and 8× digital). Use the AF button for auto focus if the image is not in focus. On the P10, this is a single shot operation and is usually not required during routine operation.
  • Other Functions - There are several advanced functions that allow such operations as: displaying images from or saving to an SD card, or using the doc cam as a video switcher. These advanced features are beyond the scope of this document; refer to the user manual linked below.

Advantages of Incorporating a Document Camera into Your Lecture

  • Engage the class. Over the years, we have seen many creative ways to use document cameras to enhance the student experience. In large lecture halls, it is essential, as it replaces the traditional chalkboard at the front of the room. But the real power of this technology is that it is a real time video camera that can display many more things than just prepared documents or real time writing on paper. It is well known that humans are visual animals. You can explain what a compliant mechanism is; you can show a video or a drawing of one; but, even better, plunk a real live compliant mechanism right on the document camera! You can point at the part you are describing, show it functioning, make it fail, and best of all, use it to answer questions that arise. The same principles can apply to so many demonstration opportunities. Would you like to show the differences between Folsom point and a Clovis point? Depending on your audience, these objects may be something you are reticent to hand around the class. We have even had instructors build a small stand so that the head of the document cameral could be laid on the stage and pointed up though a petri dish. How about a dissection or a rare live specimen?
  • Improvise your lecture. Have you ever forgotten to include an important slide or formula? Jot it down on a piece of paper and put it up on screen with the doc cam.
  • Save a "bad technology" day. Perhaps you misplaced your dongle and cannot connect your iPad to the AV system. While not the ideal way to present, you can just put your iPad on the doc cam and avoid cancelling your lecture.
  • Put up a quiz. Present a pop quiz without having to print out and distribute it; or, put up the test from last class and work through the answers
  • Double your images using dual projection. In rooms with two projectors, you can select Freeze on the touch panel and the image on the doc cam will remain until you de-select it, regardless of what you place on the stage. You can select the other projector to doc cam and put a new object on the stage. Now your old and new images will be projected simultaneously.

Best Practices for Using the Doc Cam

  • Use the Lamp - As with any kind of photography, lighting is important. It is strongly recommended that you use the lamp on the doc cam. The lamp arm and head are movable to allow the best lighting position for what you wish to display. (Pro Tip: If you are seeing a large black line across the top of your image, you have positioned the lamp head into the field of view of the camera head.)
  • Zoom - Once you have placed the object you wish to display on the stage, use the zoom control to fill the screen. (Pro Tip: You may need to press the auto focus button (AF) following a zoom operation.)
  • Distance Lens - All of our P10s have a flip-up lens on the camera head. For routine use focusing on the stage, the lens should be flipped into position to cover the camera lens. If you are using it as a video camera focusing off the stage, flip the lens up.
  • Camera Head - The camera head should be positioned properly to obtain the best image. To accomplish this, simply move the arm up until it comes to a hard stop, then rotate the camera head to the detent position.
  • Return to Normal - If you have put the doc cam in any unusual configuration to enhance your class, please be courteous to the next instructor and return it to the standard configuration.

Advanced Uses

It is outside the scope of this document to describe all the possible uses of a doc cam. There are, however, many useful features that may be accessed. If you wish to use any of these features, please refer to the user manual linked below.

  • Use as a stand-alone presentation device. You can connect a document camera directly to a display and connect a PC video output to the doc cam. In this configuration, you can switch between the PC and the doc cam directly on the doc cam without having to access the input switching on the display.
  • Record your presentation. The doc cam has the ability (with the use of a user supplied SD card) to store the images that are presented and to dump them to a PC.
  • Remote Presentation. With the addition of a simple capture device, you can take the output of the doc cam and run it into your PC. This allows you to stream directly from the doc cam and even use the it as a web cam.


No Image 
  • Unit is not turned on, or has no power; see No Power below
  • PC has been selected on the control panel; select camera
  • Video cable is disconnected or incorrectly connected; ensure the video cable is connected to the HDMI OUT, VGA OUT or DVI OUT depending on the model.
  • Classroom touch panel has not been selected to Doc Cam
Dim or Grainy Image
  • Lamp not turned on
  • Image brightness has been turned down; use the Dim (Medium Sun) Arrow Down\Arrow Up buttons to adjust image brightness. 
Out-of-focus Image
  • Auto Focus may be off; press the AF button in the centre of the Zoom control. 
No Power 
  • AC power adapter may be disconnected from doc cam or the doc cam cart
  • Doc cam cart may be disconnected from wall power 

User Manuals

Use in Remote Teaching

Many of the document cameras will be able to plug into a computer for remote teaching. A computer will see it as a video input device the same way it would see a webcam. Select that in whatever software you are using to teach remotely. By incorporating the doc camera into your teaching, you are able to show documents, physical objects, or write freehand the same way you may use a chalkboard or whiteboard. Document cameras are available in almost all classrooms, teaching hubs, and are available to rent/borrow from the Classroom Technical Support (CTS) Loan Counter in Day Hall.

Alternatives for Remote Teaching

If you are not able to be on campus or borrow a document camera, some online retailers sell a variety of devices that might work for you. As an alternative to using the document camera to capture writing (notes/equation writing), you may be able to share your tablet’s screen and use a stylus to capture written work.

If you are teaching remotely, the easiest way to show an object or document would be to use an external webcam and mount it so it is above your workspace. This could be a camera mount that attaches to your workspace, or something like a tripod to hold your webcam. This allows you to position it to work similarly to a document camera in the classroom. Instead of using the classroom document camera controls (zoom, focus, etc), you may need to move the web cam to obtain the right sizing. Keep in mind that adequate lighting is needed for students to see what you are trying to show them.


Availability: University of Guelph is bring-your-own-device
Available to Borrow: Yes

Most Effective Ways to Use a Laptop in the Classroom

decorative image.At the University of Guelph, computers and laptops are not part of the standard equipment in classrooms but can integrate easily by using the connections provided. Other video sources—including tablets, iPads, iPhones, Microsoft Surface, etc.—can perform similar tasks.

The benefit of using a laptop in the classroom is the ability to prepare everything you need ahead of time. You can prepare from your home or office and test things thoroughly before coming to class. Upon arriving for your classroom presentation, all you need to do is connect it to the system.

Laptop Usage in the Classroom

decorative image.Laptops are a huge part of your pedagogical needs in the classroom setting. It is great tool for displaying PowerPoint, Keynote, or CourseLink content. The versatility does not stop there. With the growing amount of multimedia used for teaching, you can also use the laptop to do the following:

  • Play music (iTunes, MP3, Media Player, etc.)
  • Play movies (VLC, Media Player, etc.)
  • Stream videos from the internet (YouTube, Vimeo, Ted Talks, Netflix, etc.)

Laptops are also a tool for using other devices such as the i>Clicker Student Response System that is widely used on campus.

What You Need to Know to Connect

laptop connection cords.The teaching stations at the University of Guelph include up to four (4) different connections for your laptop. These connections include:

  • HDMI
  • VGA
  • Network Connection (for wired internet access)
  • Audio Connection (to connect to the headphone jack for sound when you are using VGA)

There are, however, many laptops that use connectors not listed above. Should you have a laptop that does not have the supplied connection, there are adapters for rent/sale at the Classroom Technical Support (CTS) Loan Counter in Day Hall. The CTS Loan Counter is stocked to ensure that all potential connection needs can be met—including those for tablets, phones, and other devices. It's a good idea to check ahead of time to see if your device is compatible with the technology in the room in which you are teaching.

Use in Remote Teaching

Most laptops on the market today include built-in audio and visual aspects, including web cameras, microphones, and speakers.

When combined with internet access and web conferencing tools, the addition of simple capture software can take the output of a document camera and will allow you to stream directly into your lecture.

No Laptop? Where You Might Find One

  • CTS Loan Counter - Laptops (PCs only) can be reserved. Email CTS, phone them at ext. 52778, or visit Day Hall, Room 108 in person to make a reservation in advance. Rental charges do apply. 
  • McLaughlin Library - Provides access to laptops/computers. Email the Library for more information.
  • CCS Managed Desktops/Laptops Support - Provides software programs and upgrades, and maintenance.

Adding peripherals to your laptop such as document cameras, i>Clickers or a USB webcam will provide more flexibility and increases your ability to accomplish certain pedagogical tasks.

Extra Resources That May Be Helpful

Student Response Systems 

Description of Technology

iClicker on a pad of paper.Student response systems (SRS) are systems that allow students or members of an audience to make selections from a list of possible answers, or to submit a short answer to a question in real time. Users provide these answers through a small remote device or by using a web/mobile app. The responses are collected electronically and can be displayed as part of a presentation and recorded for grading purposes. These devices can be employed for quizzing, participation, or polling an audience. i>Clickers are the supported SRS solution for the University of Guelph.

Why should you use this and what can you use it for?

student response system kitTeaching using interactive pedagogy and student engagement methods has long been considered by instructors to provide increased student engagement, learning retention, and augmented academic performance amongst higher education students. i>Clickers provide this type of engagement through active learning.

While there are a number of products on the market, OpenEd supports and provides technical training for the i>Clicker system. i>Clicker reports and registrations can be integrated with your CourseLink (D2L/Brightspace) Gradebook. Visit our Clickers page for technical support information and other details.

Teaching with the i>Clicker

The i>Clicker response system is available for free for teaching purposes from the Classroom Technical Support (CTS) Loan Counter in Day Hall. We have kits available (pictured above) that include a receiver to connect to a laptop with a USB cable (included). The kits also include a presenter remote that can be programmed to advance slides on PowerPoint as well as show the results with the click of one button. Another feature added to the presenter remote is a laser pointer, making the presenter remote an all-in-one tool when presenting. Also found in the kit is a student remote for testing the system before you start your class..

Use in Remote Teaching

The physical i>Clicker system is not usable for a remote teaching format, as the remotes will not transmit beyond the classroom; however, the system can be used with an online subscription, allowing students to vote from their remote locations using their phones. Other alternatives also exist, including the polling options and Nonverbal Feedback available in the web conferencing tools. 

Instructions for Remote Teaching with i>Clicker

The following steps are intended for student participation in i>Clicker polling sessions from home:

  1. Create a REEF account (if you do not already have one).
  2. Add your course in REEF, so you can search for your course or instructor's name.
  3. Add the correct student ID in the REEF account at creation, or even later by following the guide below.
  4. Redeem the Access Code in REEF.

For more information on how to use REEF to participate in classes, please see Checklist: Getting Started with iClicker Reef, and watch the video demonstrating iClicker for Remote Instruction.

Related References

Wireless Microphone 

Availability: Both teaching hubs and majority of classrooms
Available to Borrow: Yes

Description of Technology

Wireless microphones are devices that allow an instructor to amplify their voice in the classroom. The user wears a transmitter (a small box about the size of a deck of cards). There is a small antenna on the transmitter, and a long wire (about one-metre in length) with small microphone at the end of it.

How does it operate?

A wireless microphone consists of two pieces of equipment: a transmitter and a receiver. It has a small battery-powered radio transmitter in the microphone body, which transmits the audio signal by radio waves from the microphone to a nearby receiver unit, which receives the audio signal.

The user of the microphone wears the wireless transmitter, which runs on rechargeable batteries. They can clip the microphone on their chest and clip the transmitter body-pack to their belt or put it in a pocket. The receiver is plugged into the sound amplifier unit by a cable in the classroom so the user will most likely never see this part of the equipment. Both the transmitter and the receiver must be tuned to identical radio frequencies so they will be able to communicate with each other. This allows the instructor to clip the microphone on themselves and turn on the microphone power to begin speaking.

At the bottom of this tip sheet are more detailed instructions on the operation of these wireless microphones.

What can I use this for and why is it so great?

Research Showing Benefits of Good Audio in Classrooms (exerpt from The benefits of classroom audio):

Studies have shown that students who sit in the back row of their classrooms miss 30% of what their teachers say because they cannot properly hear the lesson taught at the front of the classroom. When combined with the fact that hearing loss is on the rise in young people (an estimated 12.5% of students aged 6–19 have permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise, according to studies conducted by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association), it is obvious that students need assistance to hear better in their classrooms.

When properly amplified, sound in a classroom improves students’ attention and thus their interactions increase. In other words, students learn and retain more through increased hearing ability. Classroom amplification systems allow students to hear more clearly and learn more. These systems improve speech intelligibility, comprehension and retention through proper engineering. Studies have also found that test scores can improve from 10%–30% with amplified sound in classrooms.

Instructors use the classroom microphone to enhance the acoustics in the room so that students can hear easily with less strain placed on the instructor’s voice. Using a microphone reduces the stress of lecturing by decreasing the effort required to project the instructor’s voice loud enough to be heard and understood. Students who require hearing assistance devices will be able to hear the lecture using equipment built into the classrooms. The benefits for the instructor will be the reduction in repeated questions during the lesson. In larger classrooms, wireless microphones are essential due to the size of the classroom and the number of students rustling around making noise. In classrooms equipped with a hearing assistance system, the instructor MUST use the microphone, or the audio will not pass through the sound system to the hearing assistance system. Students who are dependent upon hearing assistance technology will not have their accommodations met, rendering the lecture inaccessible to them.

Use in Remote Teaching

When capturing a live or pre-recorded lecture remotely, you may not be wandering around a large lecture hall; however, having a wireless microphone can still significantly improve the quality of the audio in your recording.

Alternatives for Remote Teaching

If you are mobile, you have several options—including a headset, Bluetooth earbuds or Lapel Microphones—that can be purchased locally or ordered through Amazon. If your location is fixed, a desktop microphone may provide better quality than your built-in laptop or computer microphone.

More Information on Audio and Student Engagement in Learning

  • Using Classroom Amplification in a Universal Design Model to Enhance Hearing and Listening
  • Why Classroom Audio Technology is Important

Operating Instructions - Sennheiser Wireless Microphone

Larger classrooms have microphones installed. Smaller rooms of 60 seats or less currently do not have microphones installed.

The wireless microphone is inside the drawer located in the teaching station desk or in the AV cabinet, depending on the room setup. This drawer is unlocked by entering the passcode into the touch panel and pressing the drawer unlock button.

The microphone sits in the charger. One side of the charger will have the microphone inserted and the other side will contain a spare set of batteries. Note that in some rooms, there will be two wireless microphones instead of one. Both units will be in the charger.

Note: Please be observant of the orientation of the microphone transmitter when inserting it into the charger. There are two metal contact strips on one side, and one metal contact strip on the other. Please match these with the corresponding contacts on the microphone transmitter. Upon inserting the microphone, the charging indicator on the charging base will show a solid red light indicating it is inserted correctly and is charging.

To use the microphone:

  1. Remove it from the charger and open the door on the face of the microphone by pressing the tabs on both sides of the door simultaneously.
  2. Press the On/Off button located on the left side of the microphone above the battery compartment. On the unit’s digital display, you will see the battery indicator, the frequency setting for the room, and a signal strength indicator.
  3. A Mute switch is located on the top portion of the microphone body.
  4. If the digital display has a battery indicator that says, “Low Battery”, please switch the battery pack. There is a small tab on the upper right corner of the battery pack. Pull this tab up and out of the body of the microphone. Remove a battery pack from the charger and insert it into the microphone with the tab positioned to the upper right side of the battery compartment. Insert the used battery pack into the charger.
  5. Place the microphone about 4 to 6 inches or 10 cm below your chin. The microphone has a small tie clip attached to the cable so you can clip it to your clothing. The microphone works best when centered. Be careful not to attach it where clothing covers the microphone as this may cause the sound to muffle, have low signal, or cause static and rustling noises.
  6. The microphone volume has been pre-set for the classroom to prevent feedback and unwanted audio noise. If the microphone is not loud enough, reposition the microphone closer to your mouth and speak louder. The microphone requires your voice to be loud enough to transmit.
  7. Once you have finished using the microphone, open the battery door and press and hold the microphone On/Off button for a couple of seconds until the unit powers off. Be sure to place the unit back into the charger correctly, so it is ready for the next instructor to use.

Please Note: The microphone will only work in the assigned classroom. Every classroom has a different frequency for each microphone installed.

Image Gallery

Sennheiser wireless microphone.



microphone transmitter inserted into charger.

metal contacts on charger.

Senheisser wireless microphone with door open

Microphone charger

Microphone transmitter inserted into battery pack

Metal charger contacts

On/Off switch. mute button. On/Off button. microphone.
On/Off button Mute button Battery pack Microphone