Most K-12 technology managers understand the value of having a projector or a computer in the classroom, but the importance of sound quality may not be so obvious. If audio is not adequately distributed and amplified within the classroom space, students in the back of the room will not have the same learning experience as those in the front of the classroom, causing those children to miss part of a lesson. Purchasing a voice amplification system for your classrooms can eliminate inequities due to audio.
“Children who hear better, learn more,” says David Solomon, executive vice president for Sales and Marketing, Lightspeed Technologies Inc., a manufacturer of classroom audio systems. “You don’t want a PA system. You want a low-volume solution that increases intelligibility and evenly distributes the teacher’s voice. If you can do that, you can significantly increase the learning capacity in that classroom.”
Studies have shown that in classrooms with a voice amplification system, students typically see improvement in test scores and a decrease in special education referral rates. Teachers have also reported better classroom management and fewer sick days due to throat/voice issues.
“It’s an investment in the engagement of the students,” says James Pearcy, director of Technology for Harlingen CISD, of the decision to purchase a voice amplification system. His school district recently invested in voice amplification and his teachers have reported an increase in student engagement for longer periods of time.
The trick to purchasing this technology is to figure out how your teachers will be using the system. Is it for whole group instruction? Or, will you need a system that is meant for differentiated small group instruction? Do want an installed system or a mobile one? Your purchasing needs may change depending upon the answers to those questions.
“You have to consider if you want purely passive audio for the children to listen to or if they will be interacting via Skype or Google Hangout or VoIP,” says Tim Ridgway, vice president of Marketing at Califone International Inc., a provider of supplemental audio visual technologies for the classroom. Most of the jackboxes used for small group instruction are made for passive listening. If you want interactive capability and you’re using a mobile voice amplification system then you’ll need to purchase a jackbox designed for two-way audio.
Once you figure out how your teachers will be using a voice amplification system and whether you want it to be a permanently installed solution or mobile one, the above slideshow has some additional features to consider.