Ask me what technology I’d most like to see implemented in every single K–12 classroom and I’d say instructional audio. As a long-time audiologist, I’m admittedly biased. But research bears out the benefits and I’ve seen the results firsthand in my 27 years (and counting!) working in public schools.
Here are some of the ways we know instructional audio technology helps build students’ confidence and benefits all student groups—as well as a few suggestions on how to get started.
Amplifying students’ voices
Did you know a fear of public speaking affects an estimated 73 percent of the population? Unfortunately, that stress and fear can start in the classroom at a young age. Whether presenting a project, raising a hand to answer a question, or reading a passage out loud in front of others, students are often hesitant to put themselves out there.
At Rio Rancho Public Schools in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, we’ve seen how some students can be reluctant to participate and engage in the classroom. However, we’ve found that microphones can help boost confidence and classroom participation. Students often struggle to hear their soft-spoken classmates, someone with an unfamiliar accent, or someone talking from the opposite side of the room. Audio clarity particularly impacts the ability of non-native English speakers to follow discussions.
With all the hours students spend listening in the classroom, students must be able to hear clearly and without undue concentration. If it’s too much work for too long, they mentally check out. Instructional audio remedies that by giving every student in the room access to clear and comprehensible audio. As a result, students are more alert, engaged, and focused on what’s being said, not falling behind as they work to process sounds.
The Lightspeed microphones make it easy for our students to speak during class. One of our teachers commented that some of her soft-spoken and shy students especially like the microphone because it makes them sound more natural, not like a “karaoke voice.” She believes that while some low-cost classroom systems are intrusively “sharper and more amplifier-sounding,” instructional audio solutions designed specifically for the classroom don’t disturb the ambience of the classroom and help create an environment where all voices are heard.
Ensuring clear, concise instruction
If you’re a teacher, you know all too well the physical challenges of speaking day after day to a roomful of students inherently prone to distraction and disinterest. Projecting your voice to reach students sitting in the back of the class, speaking loudly to be heard above routine classroom noises, and using your voice to manage behavior can take a toll. Analysts report that teachers are more than twice as likely as non-teachers to have voice problems and almost 600,000 teachers miss a day or more of work because of voice issues.
The costs of voice strain go beyond the financial to impact teacher availability, retention, mental health and of course, student learning. With instructional audio, teachers don’t have to work as hard to engage students, and report less end-of-day fatigue and more enjoyable teaching experiences because of the ability to use the full expressive range of their voices.
Instructional audio ensures students hear your voice and, in turn, are aware of what’s being asked of them. As educators, we often assume our students will hear each word from us, but realistically, students often miss parts of words or sentences, or even fail to distinguish between similar sounds. Instructional audio eliminates the distortion that occurs when certain words and consonants are spoken loudly, making sounds like “th” and “f” much more audible and intelligible—ensuring students know what’s being asked of them and, in turn, they don’t second-guess what they need to do next.
Promoting engagement and discussion
With the potential for such positive impact on student learning, districts should be working to fully outfit each of their schools and encouraging every teacher to consistently use a lapel or pendant-style wireless microphone.
If your school already has an instructional audio solution installed, use it. Training can help teachers better understand the simplicity and benefits of using the technology. When training, I start with the system off then turn it on 5–10 minutes into the training so they can hear the difference. “Wow” is the most common response.
I also recommend that teachers leave their microphones on all day. It’s easier to use the mute/unmute control than to take the microphone off and set it down somewhere only to have to search for it when you need it. We also encourage teachers to give a microphone to anyone—including students—talking to a majority of the class.
Instructional audio is a fast, simple avenue for building students’ confidence in the classroom, and on top of this, it gives us the tools to create an environment where everyone’s thoughts and ideas are heard—all while promoting authentic discussion and engagement. While it’s scary for students to participate and voice their opinions with their classmates, instructional audio provides that little bit of confidence boost students need.
- Schools and districts that ignore TikTok’s lessons are bound to fail - December 5, 2023
- Excite, expand, equitize: Using data to support reading - December 5, 2023
- 9 ways collaborative learning benefits teachers and students - December 4, 2023