Monday, April 11, 2011

My Google-approved, high-tech, zomgilicious overhead projector

We have interactive whiteboards in our classrooms. They are relatively expensive, and a real pain in the arse if you're left-handed, especially if there's any delay in the projection. (This may not seem obvious, go ask a southpaw...)

The Amish do not have anything in particular against technology, but they do have issues with anything that separates the community. Much of modern technology does just that.

I am not opposed to high tech in the classroom, but I am opposed to tech that is no better than what it replaces, especially if it's more expensive. There are some things I can do with a blackboard that cannot be done with a whiteboard, and the interactive whiteboard, despite its flash, is more restrictive than my whiteboard when I am helping children learn how to think.

On a recent post, I wondered aloud about the use of the word "bitch"--I think it's offensive, many young folk disagree, and a brilliant young adult who happens to work for Google sent me a chat given there by Randall Munroe, the author of xkcd. The talk is fascinating, of course, but even more interesting (to me, anyway) was how Munroe illustrated his work. He used an overhead projector.

It was a fancy camera over an oh-so-cool desktop, but still, it was, in essence, an overhead projector.

I still have an overhead projector, and I still have acetate, but I have not used it, mostly because I cannot hear anything over the fan. I have a camera I use just about every day, projecting various objects on the board as the students wander in to class.

And now I have a Google-approved, high-tech, zomgilicious overhead projector--I simply aim my camera at a piece of paper, and I write. The writing gets projected onto a whiteboard where I can scribble some more. Students can scribble on their own whiteboards, or they can scribble on mine. ("Mine" gets less obvious every day in my class.)

Phenology notes for myself: first ospreys seen diving for fish on Saturday, April 9;
the cormorants are back, the loons have yet to leave.

Randall Munroe screen shot from video cited above.

I still think the word is offensive, so I deleted the original xkcd cartoon 

Sorry, Amanda, I just found your letter--it got stuck in the spam section.


John T. Spencer said...

I don't have an interactive whiteboard, because I like to draw on my board. Big pictures. Goofy pictures. Sketches of brainstorms in the spur of the moment. I like to shade with my marker. I like to color things in. I like webs that go across the whole board based upon massive brainstorms in multi-student handwriting. I like "graffiti walls" and long, strung-out formulas showing how nine different students answered an algorithm nine different ways, reminding us that as "objective" as math might be, there is always nuance.

I can't get any of that with an IWB. Seriously. Never. And, to me, that's the ultimate lesson.

I get accused of being a Luddite, despite how often I use technology. Perhaps I should be called Amish as well. I've always liked their litmus test for tech.

doyle said...

Dear John,

Here's a sekrit....

I sometimes pretend my IWB is broken, and take it down. I put it back up at the end of the day, because I share a room with another teacher. I miss the whitespace when it's up.

I no longer believe that the captchas are random.

doyle said...

Dear John,

I'm a knucklehead--I apparently deleted your CAPTCHA reference.

Incidentally, the first word verification was "paradox" and now it's "nuance." Sometimes the algorithm is more accurate than I could predict. Call it fate or chance or providence or the goofy side of pre-packaged CAPTCHAS, but I thought it was cool regardless.

So I put it back up....

Mr. L said...

I have an Interactive WhiteBoard for teaching K-3 Science. I don't use it on a daily basis because I spend more time with the kids exploring/creating/analyzing/recording/sharing/observing (not in any particular order). The digital camera that displays on the whiteboard comes in handy when we do the Animals/Insects unit - I point the camera at the caterpillars and record their behavior for students to observe later.

Of course, someone out there is making some good money selling these things to school districts and principals.