Overhead projectors becoming obsolete, but still in use

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Over the last few decades, classroom overhead projectors have slowly been going out of style.

The projectors across the UF campus, though hardly used today, have not been completely forgotten, said Mark McCallister, associate director of academic technology.

There have been three requests logged since Jan. 1 regarding overhead projectors, which cost between $200 and $300, McCallister wrote in an email. The last time projectors were replaced was in the early 2000s, at which point there was a projector in every classroom or classroom-like facility.

In 1998, 60 more projectors were purchased for the classrooms, McCallister said. The overhead projectors are reliable, he said. For the most part, a burnt-out bulb will need to be replaced, or the projector will be replaced by one in storage.

Sherry Tornwall, master lecturer in the department of mathematics, said the services provided for overhead projectors were always immediate when she used them.Today, Tornwall has replaced overhead projectors with document cameras.

“I think that they’re getting obsolete,” Tornwall said of the projectors.

Tornwall joined the UF faculty in 1985, when using overhead projectors was favored over chalkboards.

“It saved a lot of time,” Tornwall said. 

When Tornwall first arrived at UF, she would use two projectors at once to let students catch up on writing down problems while moving on to the next one.

But Tornwall said using overhead projectors came with complications.  

For one thing, Tornwall said, the clear sheets were green-tinted, which bothered her vision. The sheets also needed to be wiped down after being used — something Tornwall was often left to do.

Tornwall said the document camera allowed for professors to write on a regular sheet of paper with a pen.

Five years ago, Tornwall began using a document camera, abandoning the overhead projector altogether.

In math, you need to see each step as it’s written out and where it comes from, Tornwall said. She said she’s happy with the document camera.

In her lectures in Carleton Auditorium, where the document camera projects on three screens, the overhead projector sits quietly in the corner, outdated and overpowered.