Dominik Lukeš

By Dominik Lukeš

Transferring handwriting to video with pen and paper: Technique for live and pre-recorded sessions

Note: The applications mentioned below are not endorsed or procured by the University or School IT department.

As everybody else, educators in STEM fields are transferring their teaching online. But a lot of teaching involving mathematics still relies heavily on handwriting. This is much less straightforward to replicate in a video let alone a live Zoom call. There are several obvious options:

But all of these require additional technology plus the adjustment to new software and a different feel of the digital pen. Particularly, the graphics tablets take a lot of getting used to.


Screenshot of a video recorded with this process

But for those who would like to continue using pen and paper to teach online, Alan Morrison, Professor of Law and Finance at the Business School figured out an ingenious way of using his iPhone as a visualiser that can be recorded or simply chosen as the video source for a Zoom call. The entire set up cost about £30. Below are the slightly edited instructions he shared for replicating his set up.

Note: An alternative solution with MS Teams in mind is written up in the Teaching Remotely resource by the Oxford Mathematical Institute who also have Android-based instructions.

Hardware and software required

This assumes that you have an iPhone or iPad but it should work with Android, as well.

  1. Install the CameraVision app on your iPhone or iPad. It is used to make your camera full screen. It only costs £1.
  2. Install software called AirServer on your computer. It is used to be able to wireless transmit the iPhone/iPad screen to your PC. This is not strictly required if you use Zoom but it makes life easier. Academic licence costs £10.
  3. Clamp your iPhone or iPad above your desk. Ideally, use a clamp such as this.

Recording process

  1. Run AirServer on your PC.
  2. Turn on Screen Mirroring on your iPhone or iPad. (Swipe up from the bottom of the screen or top right-hand corner depending on iOS version and select “Screen Mirroring.”) Assuming phone and Mac are on the same WiFi network, the Computer appears as an option and the iPhone screen is mirrored on the Mac.
  3. Run CameraVision on the iPhone or iPad. That creates clear image for projection.
  4. Rig up phone above your desk.
  5. Share the AirServer screen in Zoom, Teams or in Panopto. You can record in Zoom or you can also record directly with the Airserver.

Alternative without Airserver using Zoom

Zoom has a built-in feature that makes it possible to share an iPhone or iPad  screen directly into the call. This essentially replicates what Airserver does.  That works well but the iPhone or iPad has to be connected every time screensharing is started so it is a bit disruptive if you need to stop and start screen sharing during a live session. If you share the screen throughout, Zoom will function as Airserver.

Note: You don’t even have to run a live session to use Zoom to record. It is even possible to do this with the free version of Zoom as long as the recordings are shorter than 40 minutes.

Note on lighting

It is important to have good lighting. A normal desk lamp may be enough but it’s best to have one that casts a white as opposed to yellow light.

Having a lamp from each side would help cancel out shadows but another option is to point the light at a white surface (such as a wall) nearby which will diffuse the lighting more evenly.

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