By Scott Knecht The proliferation of machinery and electronic gadgetry in and around the classroom has been a real blessing in teaching and learning. I can remember using a mimeograph machine to make multiple copies of something for the whole class; also saving my nickels to go to the library because they had the only copy machine around and if I wanted something copied out of a book for my own use they charged me a nickel a page. I’ve used record players, filmstrips, cassette tapes, slide projectors, and 16mm films in the classroom. My personal favorite was/is the overhead projector. They were all good in their day but there was a high level of clunkiness involved with most of them (looking at it from our current vantage point).
Today I can use projectors that work with wireless wonder alongside my computer, tablet, or phone. I have PowerPoint and Keynote and other programs that make presentations come alive with an endless variety of typefaces and animation. This is a big step forward and, all in all, a boost to what we as teachers do. I love using maps in class and can now bring up an endless stream of maps of everything and every place.
However (that’s just a glorified ‘but’ and you could probably see it coming), these things have to be used with caution and restraint. I constantly talk to students before and after classes I visit and I hear some variation of this common refrain: “I’m so sick of presentations on the screen”. Last summer I taught at a conference for 4 days and after the second day’s class a young woman came to me and said “I must thank you”. She was urgent and sincere. “Thanks for not using any presentations on the screen. Thanks for talking with us and not Read More
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