Mercy Romero

romeroh@sonoma.edu
Fall 2014-Spring 2015

Short Throw Project

The Short Throw Project was a wonderful introduction to the Sonoma State University. Participation in this project allowed me to utilize new tools and materials to enhance the classroom learning experience for my students, appreciate the resources offered at the Faculty Center, and structured productive meetings that fostered a sense of community with the members of the project cohort (who were also newer members of the university community) throughout the academic year.

I used the Elmo BOXi Short Throw Projector and iPAD mini to show interviews and short TED talk lectures with authors and cultural critics in each of my five classes over the course of the academic year. During the spring semester short media clips enhanced our study of art and social protest. For example, the class read poet Claudia Rankine’s recent collection Citizen: An American Lyric, which focuses on the poetics of everyday life and anti-Black racism. I used the iPAD mini and Elmo BOXi projector to exhibit images from the “#Black Lives Matters” movement across the country, some of which happened just the few days before our course meeting at UC Berkeley. The students appreciated the dynamic encounter between text and visual material, as well as the immediacy of connection between the classroom and the very contemporary historic moment. The iPAD and projector were brought as technological forms into the service of the course, and enabled students to witness and make meaning (between text/context) during stressful times.

The Elmo BOXi projector was also central to student presentations. During the fall, students exhibited individual Powerpoint presentations to the class. They saved their presentations to a flash drive that they connected directly to the projector. Students enjoyed creating a representation of their final project (their own family’s migration story) and sharing it with the course. This technology enabled students to critically understand via a visual narrative of family photographs and images of heirlooms, that a sense of nostalgia was central to their understanding of migration. They unpacked this complex relation to migration stories and related it to the anti-immigrant sentiment that many undocumented and immigrants of color face today.

Using the equipment, both the iPAD mini applications and the Elmo BOXi Projector opened me up to the uses of technology in the classroom. I was skeptical of introducing this technology, as I imagined it would isolate/individualize learning. I like the idea of student’s writing on the board, sharing their handwritten notes. Small seminars in a humanities classroom hinge upon student participation and collaboration. During the fall semester, my first year students appreciated displaying notes and poetry via the Elmo BOXi projector display. Indeed, they enjoyed the projector as part of our classroom culture. It added value to their sense of the classroom, and they would “ooh” and “ahh” when it was in use on our seminar table! I shared with them that this was a pilot project and they felt good about being able to enjoy this resource. Indeed, in Hutchins, my office is also my classroom and the seminar table takes up most of the room. The small projector and short throw were critical to meeting the limitations of the physical space of the office/seminar room. During a Friday symposium when all of the first year Hutchins students were gathered to hear a lecture from a guest speaker I used the Elmo BOXi projector when the regular AV equipment in the room failed. The speaker appreciated being able to insert her flash drive into the projector and display the images that were central to how she’d planned her lecture.

I would recommend the future continuation of the Short Throw project. It has given me an exciting sense of possibility in terms of interdisciplinary teaching methods, and the tools and applications that enhance student excitement and engagement.