Friday, November 18, 2005

Projector fetish

Farewell to overhead -- a tribute in lyric, image, and song to the lowly overhead projector.

As a writing teacher and research of writing technologies, I have a special place in my heart for the overhead projector. There's something about the flexibility of the overhead projector that PowerPoint, digital projectors, and whiteboards don't quite capture. It was crucial for one teaching stunt I pulled spontaneously one class period a few years ago.

I was trying to get my students to really understand the flexibility of language. They often know when they'd written something that doesn't sound right, but don't have revision strategies. I find it helpful to rewrite a bad sentence or phrase several times and pick the best version. I stole this method from Desiderius Erasmus who, in his Copia, wrote hundreds of versions of sentences such as "Your letter pleased me greatly." I had a picture of him on an overhead and, while we were trying a similar exercise, it occurred to me to turn the projector 90 degrees and project his picture on a blank wall to our side. At that distance, his bust covered the entire wall and there he stayed, looking over us, like the patron saint of linguistic flexibility. It really created a moment.

Nostalgia aside, I didn't have a projector in my class this quarter and seemed to get along fine without it, from a pragmatic standpoint.

[Ode link via Boing Boing]

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