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The Most Troublesome Technology Problems in the Classroom (and what to do about them)

Every substitute teacher can sympathize with the panicked feeling that sets in when all goes wrong with technology in the classroom. While instructional technology is a tremendous resource that motivates and engages students, it can also serve as the single point of failure in an otherwise great lesson. Here's how to handle the two biggest technology problems you will face in a classroom:

No Video Signal

It is commonplace for classrooms to be equipped with document cameras, LCD projectors, or interactive whiteboards such as SMART Board or Promethean. If the lesson calls for one of these tools but it is not displaying properly, it may be because the device is having trouble finding the signal coming from the computer. First, make sure that all plugs are secure – especially if they are connected to a portable device such as a laptop, notebook, or tablet PC. Next, check on the device for a search button. Most projectors have multiple inputs. Pressing the search button will cycle it through all inputs until it finds the one sending a signal. If that does not work, you may be able to force the signal from the laptop or computer. One of the function buttons on the keyboard will either say “LCD” or have an image of a screen or display. This key varies by laptop brand and model, but it is usually the F5, F6, F7, or F8 key. Hold the function key and this key to force the computer to send the signal to the projector.

No Internet Connection

School networks are designed to handle a lot of simultaneously connected devices transferring large amounts of data. Unfortunately, they occasionally experience problems that cause the network – and Internet connectivity – to go down. If you find that you are unable to connect to the Internet, first try using a different device in the room. It is possible that not all devices will experience problems, especially if they are connecting to the network via different network switches or routers. If it appears that all connectivity in the room is down, it’s a good idea to check with a teacher in a neighboring classroom. He or she will also be able to contact the IT department or help desk to alert the proper people of the outage.


Fortunately, even if these tips don't solve the problem, substitute teachers are experts as being flexible. When encountering a job that includes technology in the lesson plan, it's always best to have a backup plan. In the end, a good lesson is a good lesson, with out without technology! 

Have you experienced troublesome technology in the classroom? Tell us about it in the comments!


photo credit: BrittneyBush / CC BY-NC-ND

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