Writing using a document camera

Using a document camera you can create and share hand-written text using a pen and paper. If you don’t have an actual document camera, you can use a smartphone that is connected to the video meeting (e.g. on Zoom).

You will need to devise a stand for your phone. Take a look at these two videos to find out how to make your own DIY document cameras using a phone and common household items and use it in a tutoring session.

Writing using a document camera

Here’s an activity to try in a session with your learner. Adapt it to fit your learner’s needs and interests.

Level 1 (beginner): Getting set up!

Using the phone (document camera), the person with the phone linked to the meeting should:

  • click on the green share screen option in Zoom and share the screen or camera of this device
  • position their phone over a piece of paper using the box or cans that you brought to the session
  • place a piece of paper on the table under the phone camera
  • find a pen (high contrast is best)

Level 2 (intermediate): Start writing!

  • Start to write words on the paper – perhaps create a mind map on a topic that you and your learner want to write about
  • Invite your learner to tell you new words to write on the paper
  • Correct, motivate and encourage verbally and ask for input from your partner

Level 3 (advanced!): Make it more active!

  • Ask your learner to annotate the screen. You can find the annotate menu in the ‘view options’ menu on laptops and computers. On tablets and phones, you will see a ‘pencil’ icon when you tap the screen. Click on this and the annotate menu appears (or go to our blog on Using the annotate tool in zoom for more information and tips).
  • Notice that as soon as your learner starts to annotate, the screen camera clicks and becomes a still photo.
  • As your learner annotates, add notes to your paper copy.
  • When they have finished annotating. Click ‘resume camera’ on your phone document camera. The annotations disappear and you will see the updated paper in the screen share.


There are lots of ways to use this to create an active learning environment. Your learner can highlight or check lists they really connect with. They can cross out items that are not important. They can add to lists or ask questions?

Challenge: Try to set up a document camera and do a writing activity with your learner. Watch the DIY document camera videos together. Challenge your learner to set up a document camera and use it in a writing session. Think about:

  1. What did you like about using a document camera?
  2. Who was active?
  3. Do you think your learner could set up a document camera?
  4. How can you use the document camera in writing activities with your learner?

For more fun writing activities that you can do online explore the online writing resources section of the resource hub.

Back to Writing Remotely

Scroll to Top