Mixing Analog and Digital

I was on campus last week for a campus technology committee meeting, and I ran into one of the faculty I used to perform instructional technology support for. We started talking about the class I’m teaching next quarter, an introduction to literature and textual analyis, and she wanted to know about the technology I was using. She was enthused and interested in my description of using a blog, and requiring students to make posts, and in my plan to use my iBook’s DVD player and my iPod, connecting them with Apple’s nifty AV Cable to the room’s video monitor, controlled via BlueTooth, my Sony-Ericson T68i cell phone, and Salling Software’s Clicker, but astonished when I mentioned overheads.

Yes, that’s right, traditional overhead projector transparencies, not PowerPoint, or even Keynote. She seemed to feel it was “wrong” to use “old fashioned” technology. I had to explain why I wanted to use overheads instead of a software-based slide show.

I’m using overheads because I want to be able to interact with my students, rather than with the technology. I’ll be creating large-type overheads of poems so we can mark them up together, analyze them, annotate them, and notice the metrical and rhetorical features. I want to model the kind of close reading and analysis I expect them to engage in as they read and annotate their copies of texts and write their papers. It’s much easier to do that with transparencies than it would be in a presentation program like PowerPoint or Keynote.