A long, long time ago (not that far away), I began one of my first jobs at a multi-campus college that launched one of the first full-time distance learning classrooms in the US. It was my job to manage setting up the cameras, document camera, microphones, and other equipment the teachers needed to transmit their class to the other campuses. I never imagined that experience would now apply to the entire world of education, but here we are. However, the technology has progressed so dramatically from old CRTs and dial-up Internet, that my old distance learning classrooms would be jealous.
Now, there are almost too many choices, making it difficult to narrow down the best camera for your remote education experience. While smartphones and laptop cameras have decent built-in cameras, they can be very limited in their options and quite expensive at the highest end. Let’s look at the two sides—the teacher and the class participants—and at what cameras work on a scale from budget-conscious to higher-end applications.
The largest amount of equipment will likely be needed on the instructor side, since most work and document sharing will require separate software elements. In terms of cameras, consider how much fine detail is needed to convey your lesson (higher resolutions offer a greater amount of detail), how many cameras you will need, whether you have any help in the classroom to switch cameras while you teach, and how much money is in the budget to achieve high-quality remote instruction.
First, gather a list of what you might need: