Search this site
Other stuff

All banner artwork by Brady Johnson, college student and (semi-) starving artist.

My latest books:


        Available now

       Available Now

Available now 

My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

 The Blue Skunk Page on Facebook


EdTech Update




« BFTP: Advice to vendors | Main | Getting the most from your tech dollar 8: Maximize your E-rate funding »

Getting the most from your tech dollar 9: supporting 16mm film

Over the next few days, I'll be addressing some strategies school districts use to get the most from their technology dollars. See the full list hereAny budget stretching strategies you're willing to share?

9. Stop supporting 16mm film projectors (and other obsolete technologies).

The adjective obsolescent refers to the process of passing out of use or usefulness--becoming obsolete. The adjective obsolete means no longer in use--outmoded in design, style, or construction. -

While these devices may need to be ripped from some teachers' hands, they are no longer viable classroom technologies, they are obsolete:

  • 16mm films and projectors*
  • filmstrips
  • cassette tape players
  • opaque projectors
  • MicrosoftWorks and Appleworks
  • any computer over 10 years old

and I would add that we should be phasing these obsolescent technologies out

  • overhead projectors
  • CRT monitors and television sets
  • VHS tapes and tape players
  • all desktop rather than web-based software

and it's pretty easy to see the day when these technologies are gone

  • CDs and DVDs
  • desktop computers
  • printers
  • cable television

I just felt a great collective shudder in education-land from those who use, value and understand how difficult obtaining many of these resources have been. They are known, they are used and they have benefited kids.

Budgets, however, need to be focused and they are best focused on technologies that still have a long lifespan, not propping up those that are dying.

 * One of the reasons that the transition from 16mm or VHS film formats to DVD or streaming video is tough is that many valued programs are out of print and no longer available in any format. What to do?

Here is my solution which you may or may not like ...

1. After thouroughly searching for a copy of the work in a newer format, convert the film to DVD or digital format. Warehouse the original.

2. Write a letter to the publisher of the work:

  • Asking if the work is available for purchase in a newer format and stating your willingness to purchase it.
  • Explaining that you have converted the original owned work to a new format for internal use within your organization only.
  • Asking that if the publisher objects to this conversion to reply in writing within 90 days.
  • If there is an objection, destroy the new copy.

3. Keep a file of any responses these letters generate.

4. Sleep well at night.

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (4)

I know several people that would love to get their hands on those old opaque projectors! Anyone out there have some?

June 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTori Jensen

Hi Tori,

Yeah, I actually caught a little heat for tossing one just a few weeks ago here, too!


June 6, 2011 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

We spent the month of May packing up the school cause we're moving to temporary quarters (don't ask). I was amazed at the ancient technology that came crawling out of the teachers cabinets. Remember Laser Disk Players? I sent 10 to surplus, along with cassette tape players. Thank goodness no record players or filmstrip projectors showed up - I did manage to get rid of all of those some years ago.

June 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGuusje

Hi Guusje,

I am beginning to think that the teaching profession attracts a higher than average percentage of packrats. Maybe due to a scarcity mentality?


June 10, 2011 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>