Old Technology

A former colleague of mine at the University of West Florida, James I. Miklovich (1942-2020), used to jest that he was the keeper of old technology.  In the 1990s and until his retirement in 2019, he still used a portable record player and LP albums so students could hear recordings of historic speeches.  In the 2000s, when PowerPoint presentations were all the rage, he continued to use 35 mm slides and overhead projectors.  As he approached retirement, he began to characterize me as another keeper of old technology--a sort of heir apparent.  While I do not use slide projectors (I still have hundreds of slides that I digitize as needed) and have graduated to include PowerPoint presentations in a few classes, I still find certain types of old instructional technology useful.

One indispensable classroom tool for me is a roll-down map.  Poised at the far end of a blackboard, the roll-down map is easy for students to see and is available for a quick illustration at any time during a lecture.  With a roll-down map, there is no need to dim the lights for students to see a projected image (dimming the lights also is an invitation for certain students to doze because they spent long hours the previous evening analyzing the varied methods of brewing hops).  Furthermore, students benefit from constantly viewing a cartographic image of the time and place under consideration.  Unfortunately, online learning appears to have made the pull-down wall map obsolete.  To save that form of old technology as an instructional aid for my online classes, I gradually am photographing my collection of roll-down maps, and the images are available in The Map Room.