IN PRAISE OF THE OVERHEAD PROJECTOR
10 February 2013
There was a time, maybe as recently as ten years ago, when every office and school had cupboards full of overhead projectors. Then came Powerpoint and Smartboards, and most institutions happily threw out these space-hungry devices. But fortunately not all of them. I'd guess that about half of the schools in the UK, and most conference centres, still have one OHP lurking somewhere in a broom cupboard.
For my primary school and parent talks I still use an OHP in preference to a laptop or whiteboard, because it's versatile, tactile...and there are times where it simply beats every other technology.
Here are six reasons why you should hold on to your OHP, if you still have one:
- Sometimes low-tech is best. You won't find your OHP crashing, or infected by a virus. I've been to a couple of schools who were thankful that they had this device as a back-up when the school computer system went down.
- OHPs are 'real time', there is no annoying time lag.  Visualisers with cameras are great for many things, but with most visualisers there is a delay of half a second between writing something and it appearing on the screen.  In situations involving rapid movements and responses, that 'small' time lag can kill the spontaneity.  I have a counting trick involving a chocolate doughnut that was completely ruined when I tried to do it using a visualiser.
- You never have to turn your back on your audience when you're writing something.
- Kids go 'awwww!!!'. Most children under 10 have never seen an OHP. They are amazed that there's a machine that can make your writing magically appear on a wall.
- You can do the ice cream trick. In capital letters write various ice cream flavours on an acetate, such as STRAWBERRY, VANILLA and MINT. Add CHOC ICE at the bottom. Then flip the acetate over top to bottom.
All the ice creams are ruined except for CHOC ICE, which stays the same.
- Comedian Milton Jones uses one to great effect in his act.  And since 'How to Take a Penalty' is one of his favourite books, who am I to argue with a man of such good taste.