I was in Walmart (shudder) recently and glanced at their offerings in digital cameras. I was amazed at the variety cameras available for under $100 that can take 1.3 megapixel images. However, when I checked their online options, most of their sub-$100 cameras seem to be out of stock.
That got me thinking, though, so I did a search for inexpensive cameras. Aiptek seems to be the leading producer. Their PocketCam 1.3 sells for $19.99, and features flash and built-in 16 MB of memory. That may seem paltry compared to today’s standards, but think about it in terms of classroom use. The old Sony Mavicas sold for around $500 each and only had 640X480 resolution. Because the images were stored on 3.5 floppies, they could be easily shared and incorporated into classroom materials. On today’s systems with XP and USB, most of these cameras are plug-n-play, so transferring images can be just about as easy.
For about the cost of a single Sony Mavica, you can now get an entire classroom set of digital cameras. So what if it doesn’t have great image quality? It will be perfectly adequate for printing on a laser or inkjet printer for classroom use. I can just imagine the uses – sending kids out and creating all sorts of writing projects. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the loss of an expensive piece of equipment. It almost makes me want to get back into the classroom.