Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Overhead Projector by Patrick Barlow

The overhead projector is a very versatile piece of technology that allows you to share both graphics as well as text with students to help aid their learning during class. I’ve been amazed by the capability of increasing the size of the information by a mere twist of the focal knob or by altering the distance between the projector and screen. This kind of technology adds a certain level of engagement with the students and the course material that is not easily achieved by lecture alone. For that matter, you can turn off the machine at any point to allow the student to focus more on your instruction.

I refined my interest in the overhead projector during my time at Iowa State while in graduate school. I soon found that I was able to share almost any kind of chart or graph quite easily by just using a word processing program to create the content and printing them off onto clear plastic sheets. This was a much more refined approach compared to writing all the notes for the students on the chalkboard. It’s important to note that many of the textbook publishers offer sets of transparencies that match the content of your text. Don’t forget to ask for these when you make your course adoption. There are also some models that allow for a continuous sheet of transparency film to be written on and then hand cranked so you can progress from one page to another, especially useful for those that want to more easily navigate back and from previous ideas.

Another advantage to the projector is that you can easily review each line of text or graphic slowly so as to not overwhelm the students with too much information. This is achieved by having a sheet of paper block the light from shining through lower parts of the transparency. If you find that a student brings up an issue not already addressed in your pre-printed transparencies, I have often taken out a blank one and began to handwrite a response with my Vis-a-vi wet erase markers which come in a variety of colors. It’s important to consider having a set of these markers, wet wipes, and an extra bulb handy as you use this learning tool.

While it’s hard to find many projectors on campus, there may be some available by special request to the Audio Visual Services Team. Most any office supply store will have the markers, transparency sheets, and extra bulbs. I encourage my colleagues to make use of the gem of technology.

Submitted by Patrick Barlow, CATL