Here is an overview of the more common types of connections and cables that you will come across in your classroom and their functions.
SD Card Slot
This slot allows you to use SD cards as removable storage. SD cards function like flash drives. They hold different kinds of files. You’ll often see them in cameras.
Anything that you can connect your computer to that uses USB (officially called “USB Type A) can go here. The most common things that you will connect via USB are your SMARTBoard, Promethean Board, document cameras, and printers.
This is where you connect your projector or external monitors. This is sometimes called a “Mini Display Port” or “Thunderbolt Port” in the Mac world.
This is where our Macs draw their power. This port is magnetic so be aware of metal objects that may be nearby.
The same as on the other side of the computer, it connects other devices to our Mac.
This is where we can connect audio devices that will use the sound coming from our computer. Headphones and other speakers will connect hear.
This is where ambient sound (like our voice) is collected and used in video or audio editing programs.
This is used to connect different devices for display purposes. You will see this port on projects, document cameras, and external monitors or even TVs. This is slightly older technology and some devices have replaced this port with an HDMI port.
This is another kind of USB connection called “USB Type B.” It functions pretty much the same as the typical USB-A. You will see this type of connection on printers, SMARTBoards, and Promethean Boards. You may also see them on some document cameras.
This port can be found on the Chromebook. It functions just like the Display Port on your Mac. It is used to show your computer’s screen display on another device such as a projector or external monitor.
This cable connects devices for display purposes. You will most often use this cable to connect your MacBook to your projector or an external monitor. You could also use it to connect a document camera directly to a projector. You may also see it used to connect a desktop computer to a monitor or projector.
HDMI is the updated version of VGA. It is used to connect devices for display purposes, though you will likely see it on newer technology, like the student Chromebooks. HDMI allows for better picture definition than VGA.
There are many iterations of USB cables. It will be important to check your ports to see what kind of USB cable you will need. USB cables are used to provide connectivity between devices, allowing them to “communicate” with each other. You will most often need these cables for printers, SMARTBoards, Promethean Boards, document cameras, external hard drives, robots, digital cameras, or any other type of external device you want to control from your computer. Here are the cables you are most likely to encounter with school-related devices.
Audio cables will be used to direct the sound from your computer to other devices, such as headphones or external speakers or even the sound on your interactive whiteboard if it is equipped with speakers.
Adapters (aka Dongles)
Adapters allow us to change the connection of a cable in order for it to work with our devices. The most common adapter we see at school is for our projectors. The projector may have a VGA cable, but we do not have a VGA Port on our MacBooks! So, we use a VGA-Thunderbolt (mini display port adapter) adapter, plug the VGA cable into it then plug the adapter into the Thunderbolt Port and voila!
Like USB cables, there are many different types of adapters. Here are some that you may use for school devices.