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Opaque Projector January 8, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in General Comment, Hardware.

Opque Projector   When I was in Grade Eight, I used an opaque projector for the first time. It was a large and heavy machine that I used to display photos I had cut from some of our National Geographic magazines. In hindsight I have a few observations on that experience.

I recall now that I was the only one in the class using the machine. Everyone else did their presentations on large poster board with images glues to them. After some experimentation, I found a little knob that activated a pointer. With a little practice it was possible to move the pointer to the place I wanted it. What was noteworthy was that I absolutely had to use the pointer. Just knowing it was there was not enough.

My thinking at the time was that simply standing at the front of the room and talking about the photos was far from enough. The technology of the opaque machine allowed me to amplify my voice and it helped me to show my classmates what I saw. If it was important enough to make it fill a screen at the front of the room, then it was certainly something important and attention had to be paid to it.

Perhaps that is why I get a little uncomfortable when I see people going to great lengths to fill screens with trivial items or worse with too much profound text. The big screen should be reserved for the big idea, highlights of texts, views of things that you cannot see ordinarily. It is a giant conceptual highlighter.

In much the same way, simply posting readings on a web site and calling it an online course is a lot like using a car to crack open walnuts. You are using one feature of the car, its weight, to effect but it can do so much more. Go ahead and crack nuts but please try to transform your life by using the car as a vehicle to explore the world.



1. Zs - January 8, 2006

I like your “teaching” about not filling up the entire screen space. It is the same with power point. It drives me crazy when I see my students filling one slide with lots lots of written information. So small no one is able even to see and read it -even from the front row is hard. Then with the hundreds of templates, they choose already a heavy design and fill it all with written text. Like red letters on black background…
I was just wondering if those people who design the templates, do they have any preparation in basic written communication? You might know more than I do. I did attend couple of workshops in power point presentation and NONE (!) of the masters who were teaching us ever said to choose a heavy dark colored power point template and write lots on it. Almost all were teaching us to use a light pastel colored background with light template and as less written text as possible. Now, I just wonder when, is appropriate (if ever is?) to use those all kind of dark colored and lots of background designed templates for ppt. presentation?
Just curious:-)

2. Zs - January 8, 2006

Oh, I forgot to ask you :-)
do you really skip lunch?
You must be on a strict diet :-) even on Sundays!

3. mcvey - January 8, 2006

Hah! I skip lunch many days but usually I nibble a little when I write. I could still stand to lose a little more. :-)

I heard one line of thinking that suggested we use dark backgrounds and light letters in PowerPoints. Another suggested the 7-7 rule: a maximum of seven words per line and seven lines at the most.

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