Colorado school district improves hearing, listening and comprehension with innovative audio solutions

audio-technology-benefitsIf students can’t hear, they can’t learn. It’s that simple, which is why lead audiologist Dr. Donna Massine has spent the past 23 years working hard to make sure the students in the Douglas County School District (DCSD) just outside of Denver, can hear their teachers, peers and the multimedia used in the classroom.

Massine and three other audiologists support the district’s 300 students with hearing loss. They also work with principals and teachers to ensure students are able to clearly hear allowing them to fully engage in learning.

Watch how the new Lightspeed Flexcat system works:

(Next page: How students benefit from new audio systems)

Big victory! Audio systems now a standard part of construction plans

When Massine first started in the district, she would meet with educators, parents and principals to figure out creative ways to fund audio systems. Often, the school PTO would step in to fundraise. Sometimes a school would receive a donation from a local company or foundation. But things have changed a lot thanks to the dedication of Ms. Massine, one principal and a special education director.

Ten years ago, this trio researched the importance of audio systems and approached the district’s building committee with a proposal to include audio systems as part of any new school construction plan. The team succeeded. For the past seven years, all new elementary schools in DCSD have been built with fully integrated Lightspeed audio systems in every classroom.

“Students need access to spoken instruction. Every student, even those without hearing loss or auditory processing challenges, benefit from the Lightspeed audio systems,” said Dr. Massine. “When students move from classrooms with this technology to classrooms or schools without it, they really miss it.”

Wired, wireless mobile–finding the right audio system for every student and teacher

Even though the new elementary schools in DCSD are all now benefiting from audio systems, there are still other schools in the district that lack the advantages to learning that the audio systems provide. She and her fellow audiologists continue to work with teachers and principals in older schools to find funds for retrofitting with products like Lightspeed’s Redcat wireless audio systems.

“DCSD teachers really use today’s technologies and digital learning tools with their students,” said Massine. “Multimedia resources are much more effective when students aren’t straining to hear audio through a teacher’s laptop speakers. Whether it’s Redcats or a whole-room wired system, the sound is distributed much more effectively and students are better able to comprehend the material.”

It’s not only students who are benefiting from Lightspeed audio systems. In buildings without built-in systems in every classroom, many teachers struggle with vocal fatigue.

“It’s amazing the difference that an audio system can make for a teacher. A few teachers have told us that they thought they were going to have to consider other options besides teaching in the classroom because they could no longer comfortably project their voices loud enough for students to hear,” said Massine. “Lightspeed has allowed these teachers to continue comfortably and effectively teaching their students.”

Leveraging audio technologies to aid in 21st century learning

Massine is excited to continue to implement audio technologies throughout the schools that she serves and to expand how these can assist teachers as they adopt new learning strategies such as project based learning. Teaching philosophies are evolving to include greater student-centered learning and collaboration. Audio technologies such as the Flexcat, a group audio system, are an exciting addition to the field.

“The Lightspeed audio technologies have become an integral part of our district,” said Massine. “Our younger students take them for granted because they’ve never known a classroom without an audio system. That’s how much our students depend on the systems and how much they know they help them learn.”

Tips from DCSD to Get the Most from Your Audio Technologies

Here a few strategies that Dr. Massine and her team use to ensure that DCSD teachers and students can easily use their Lightspeed audio technologies.

Recruit assistants. Have teachers ask a few students to be their audio assistants. Teach the students how to turn the equipment on, charge microphones, and do basic troubleshooting. This helps teachers get going at the start of a busy day and ensures someone is available to help substitute teachers use the equipment in the classroom. This strategy is also a great way to empower and engage students.

Have a substitute plan in place. Make sure you have written instructions for substitute teachers and identify their Lightspeed assistant students.

Use pictures. Younger students will find picture versus written instructions helpful in getting started with their Lightspeed equipment.

Create a HAT. Recruit two to three teachers per building to join a Hearing Assistance Technology team. The Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT) team trains other teachers on how to use the technologies and is available to troubleshoot.

“Students need good access to spoken instruction. Every student, even those without hearing loss or auditory processing challenges, benefit from the Lightspeed audio systems,” “Lightspeed has saved the careers of some amazing teachers.”

“Multimedia resources are much more effective when students aren’t straining to hear audio through a teacher’s laptop speakers.”

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