Teachers trying to use more modern ways to communicate information and develop understanding might not consider overhead projectors as their first choice. When overused, they bore students and lose their efficacy. However, they can still prove extremely beneficial when used appropriately.
An overhead needs an appropriate space in the classroom. Ideally, it should sit near an outlet and have an extension cord if necessary (one that won't trip students by lying across a walkway). The projector should sit in the front of the room on a flat surface; classroom desks that have an angle are often problematic unless you can use books to prop the machine up.
Writing on transparencies and using an overhead projector to share them with the class helps facilitate group discussion easily. Groups in the class can also quickly record their work and conversations to share with the rest of the class. Such strategies particularly benefit students who respond to visual learning cues.
Although overhead projectors seem outdated in more technologically advanced classrooms, they provide a valuable back-up if the Internet or another technological tool fails to work, and the teacher needs to share visuals with the whole class. Teachers can keep salient information on a transparency to continue with an alternate lesson.
Deaf or hard-of-hearing students benefit from overhead projectors used to display visual aids to the lesson or discussion. Although teachers need to remember to dim the lights to make the image visible, a deaf student may also need to see her classroom translator in conjunction with the images on the projector.
- school room image by Alfonso d'Agostino from Fotolia.com