Opaque Projector January 8, 2006Posted by Michael McVey in General Comment, Hardware.
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.