Audiovisual (AV) technology is at the center of many classroom initiatives. Whether students are watching videos in a one-to-one classroom setting or English language learners are working on speaking and listening activities, AV lets them connect with media during classroom time.
While innovations are certainly taking place in the world of classroom AV, it’s convenient that some edtech staples are still functional and effective. For example, as long as a classroom’s current headphones are comfortable, durable, and safe, they won’t likely need to be updated.
As you review your AV needs for the 2018-19 school year, keep this checklist of priorities in mind.
(Next page: the six questions to ask when selecting your district’s AV equipment)
- What’s in your current toolbox?
The first step to identifying what AV equipment you need is taking a look in your classrooms. Are your keyboards or headphones starting to deteriorate? Are your tools causing frustration in the classroom? Ask teachers to take notes on their tools so you can assess which ones are and aren’t meeting classroom needs.Taking the time to reflect on your current tools will also surface any gaps in your resources. For example, you might realize that having headsets with microphones would make it easier for students to work on video projects.
- What should you prioritize?
Determine where your largest needs are. Your technology budget will only go so far, and there are some items that fall in the nice-to-have category rather than the need-to-have. If you have less headphones than there are students, that’s going to cause serious problems when teachers want students to work individually on computers or tablets.
- Can you use one tool for multiple purposes?
Your dollars will go the farthest if one tool can support multiple classroom activities. For example, headsets with microphones can be used for game-based learning, podcast projects, listening activities, video conferencing, and more. Better yet, if your AV equipment can be used in multiple settings, such as in the classroom, computer lab, and at home, you’ll know it’s a worthwhile investment.
- Will your new tools stand the test of time?
In a school setting, with multiple students using the same equipment every day, the tools are more likely to get damaged.Explore what materials tools are made out of to get products that last. For example, ABS plastic is more rugged than other kinds of plastic and tends to last longer in the classroom. Another element to pay attention to is warranty. Some brands will offer commercial warranty to districts to ensure that products last. In the long term, these kinds of warranties can save you time and the headache of replacing equipment that gets broken within a month of use.
- Do you know what the specs mean?
Be sure to do your research before making a purchasing decision. If you do not know a lot about the design of PA systems or headphones, for instance, you may accidentally make a purchase that doesn’t fit your classrooms.When purchasing headphones, volume limit is a critical factor. Students can incur hearing damage if they play sound too loudly on their headphones. Restricting volume to 85 dB decibels is recommended by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Researching technology fundamentals like this will help you buy products that are both effective and safe for students.
- What’s out there?
Once you take these initial steps to determine your AV needs, explore the options that are out there. Even if you want to find a tool that is similar to an outdated product your teachers already use, you may find that the vendor has introduced an updated version.
If you still have questions after looking over product details, reach out to the technology provider and see if they have any additional insights, based on your teachers’ specific needs. You can also reach out to other district leaders in your network about what has worked for them. After taking the time to think through this checklist, you will be able to make any purchasing decision with confidence.