Help! The SMART Board isn’t working?
Well, that’s usually the call, or email, that I get as a teacher is trying to teach a lesson in their classroom, the lab, or for a special event. When I get that call, I know that I have to go there in person to see what the real problem is so that I can better troubleshoot the issue. This week, our trouble shooting group, at both VES and CRES, discussed diagnosing a problem to better understand how to solve the issues behind it. Below are mini-scenarios that we came up with, along with some possible ways around the issues. We hope this helps!
Mini Scenario 1: I get a blue screen, a black screen, or my SMART Board keeps checking inputs and cannot seem to find my computer. What do I do?
This is very common. In this case, it really isn’t the interactive white board that is the issue. It’s most likely something do with the cables connected to the projector. Check the VGA cable at both ends, and the VGA adapter if you are on a Mac (sometimes called a dongle.) I also find that unplugging it, if it was already plugged in, and checking for dust before you replug the VGA adapter back into your laptop or desktop computer helps. This often is the fix for a blue screen. A black screen usually means that the projector input is set for something other than the computer input you are looking for. The last person to use it may have hooked up a VCR/DVD player to the board and used a different input. Using the projector’s remote you should be able to toggle between inputs and make sure you get the right one.
Mini-Scenario 2: A display is showing on the projector screen, or white board, but it’s just the background and doesn’t show what is on my laptop. Now what?
Mirroring an image is when you mask your view on your laptop, or computer, to the view on the projector. In other words, what you see is what you get on the board. Most of the time teachers want this to be the case. To mirror your image on a Mac, click on the black apple in the upper left hand corner and select system preferences. Click on displays in system preferences, and while you are plugged into a VGA adapter, you should see three tabs on the top of the display window (note you will only see the third tab while you are plugged into a VGA adapter for a projector or SMART Board). The middle tab should say “arrangement”. To mirror the image, click on the arrangement tab, and check the box in the lower left hand corner to mirror displays. It’s that simple!
Scenario 2.5: So why would you ever want to un-mirror the displays?
Good question. We talked about that in our troubleshooting group. Let’s say you are going to present a movie that’s of descent length, or share notes like a morning routine or message up on the white board. If the display is mirrored, you cannot use your laptop until the activity is completed without interfering with the assignment. However, if you have unchecked the mirrored display, you can drag the movie, or document, to the right of your laptop screen off of the monitor and you will see it appear on the projected image up on the projector screen or white board. Now you can share a movie with the class on the projector, or SMART Board, and still be able to check email, take attendance or plan out another lesson on your laptop without fouling up the student lesson.
Mini-Scenario 3: I can see the picture fine, but when students go up to the board they cannot interact with it. Either it’s way off from where they touch the board, or it doesn’t register at all. What can I do?
First thing is to take a look at the little light in the bottom right corner of your SMART board. It should be a solid green. If the light is red, reconnect your USB plug from your laptop to the white board (the one that has a trident looking symbol on it). You should see the lights flicker across the marker tray on the SMART board and eventually the light should turn to a solid green. You will then need to orient the board.
To orient the SMART Board, hold down both the buttons on the marker tray (right mouse click and keyboard buttons). After 5 seconds you can let go and make sure you touch the center of each little target on the board to re-orient the SMART Board to your display.
If the light is green, but blinks, it’s a software issue. Sometimes you can find a little file called SMARTBoardServices and double click this file. It doesn’t appear to do anything, but it sends a signal from your computer through the USB plug to the board and usually fixes itself. Otherwise you will want to call a member of your school’s tech team. They may have to reinstall your SMART software, drivers, update the firmware on the board, or upgrade to a newer version of the software. This usually requires an admin password.
As always, we hope this helps and if you have any comments, questions, or advice, please leave us a reply so that we can discuss it at our next meeting. Cheers!