Things To Bring

The three weeks before school starts has me as busy as a one-legged man at a butt kicking contest.  It’s been one of my favorite times of the year – presentation season.  I’ve had the honor of speaking with hundreds of educators on all things educational technology and the classroom management necessary to makes things work smoothly.

As you are running from event to event you quickly find out that your technology supports may be not as expected.  One of the struggles I had today and the purpose of this post is to share a few things to bring if you are a frequent presenter in unfamiliar locations.

First, convey your technology requirements to the building administrator well in advance.  Think of things like the room size, how many people will be there, is there audio support, and what about the LCD projector? Additionally, is there publicly accessible wireless or do you need the secret handshake to get on?  If no Wi-Fi, how about a nearby Ethernet port?  Finally, get the cellphone number of the local IT support person.

So as things go, what was supposed to be in place sometimes is not.  The well prepared edugeek always has a few things to make life easier during your setup (usually under pressure) while many people look on to see if you can actually make your laptop talk to the projector.

Here are a few things in my current just-in-case-bug-out-bag that stays in my vehicle:

An extra 15 foot VGA cable – with 3.5mm stereo audio cables attached.  This comes in handy for the times when there’s a projector… with a 3 foot cable and no place to park your laptop without hunching over a too low table.

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I buy these, and almost all of my other accessories at the best place in the universe for such things – Monoprice.com.  This particular cable costs a whole $7.82.

The next problem I encounter is that the computer podium may be hooked up directly to a LCD projector, but the cable end is buried behind the room desktop computer with little slack to get my laptop to connect to it.  What does one do?  Well, we use the aforementioned cable and add one more part called a gender changer.

imageThis little lifesaver costs a whole $2.61, again from Monoprice.com.

The next item is another just in case the room audio, or speakers are a bit too far away or again buried in a computer podium somewhere.  I use a lot of video clips in my presentations, and they lose their effectiveness without the accompanying audio.  Having an extension cord for audio is a great thing to have.

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Back to our friends at Monoprice.com (I should get some commission by now…) – get yourself a 12 foot male to female audio extension cable for a $1.02.

If you can’t get a room audio hookup, then your next bet for a small to medium sized group is to bring your own speakers.  Both of my laptops have OK audio, as long as you are within 5 feet.   By the way, have you ever tried to find a set of powered speakers in a school?  It’s like finding a needle in a haystack for some reason.

I’ve used quite a few sets of portable speakers, and at the moment, my favorite are a set of X-Mini MAX II Capsule speakers.  They costs about $29 to $39 depending on where you get them, and are surprisingly loud for their size.  image

One last thing before this post gets TL;DR – head back to Monoprice and get yourself a few CAT5 Ethernet cables to keep in your go-kit.  A nice 14 foot cable will set you back a mere $2.18.  They are very cheap insurance when you can’t quite make a cable stretch.  And throw in a CAT5 coupler for another $1.86 too.

I hope this post helps you think about your own technology bug-out-bag and points you in the direction of making you more effective and less stressed out when faced with a large crowd of educators.

Let me know if you have any other tips that can be shared with others.  We’d love to hear them.

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Things To Bring

by Ron Houtman time to read: 3 min
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