April 19, 2018

By Shaun Fagen

Over the years, I’ve seen Lightspeed’s audio systems make a positive impact on students across the nation. As a learning company, we have evolved our focus to include helping educators effectively use instructional audio and video systems to enhance the learning environment and improve student achievement in the areas of whole-classroom instruction, group learning, and collaboration.

With the launch of our new Activate system, we’ve successfully harnessed the power of technology to create a multifaceted tool that teachers can use to assess students in small groups, and also as part of professional development to make themselves better teachers.

The new Activate product line includes the Activate Station charging and control center, portable two-way audio pods the size of a glasses case that double as handheld microphones, and the Activate App. This is by far the most versatile system we’ve ever created at Lightspeed, including features like Whisper Coaching, Bluetooth connectivity, and teacher-to-teacher communication. Here are a few of Activate’s capabilities that explain why we are extremely excited about its official launch.

  1. Engage every student with whole-classroom audio (and share it, too). The Activate solution provides teachers with a powerful tool to ensure that all kids can clearly hear direct instruction. Teachers can also provide direct instruction to each individual group through the pod or to the whole class through a Redcat or Topcat classroom speaker. When a teacher hears an insightful conversation from a small group, she can immediately have that group use their pod to share with the whole class, promoting the kind of student-centered learning that is a vital part of any collaborative classroom.

  2. Activate student group learning.  With its two-way audio pods, Activate empowers teachers with insights into students’ needs in real-time so they can deliver the right support at the right time. Activate provides educators with a clear picture of what students know and understand. Designed to monitor students during small-group discussions, the two-way pods are easy for students to pick up and take wherever they may be working. By “dropping in” on students’ learning conversations, educators are able to listen to students collaborate and share their ideas in an authentic and natural setting. When students don’t actively participate in a whole-group setting, it can seem as if they don’t have a strong conceptual understanding of what they are learning. By capturing students’ learning in a small-group setting and without the teacher at their side, educators hear students think aloud and readily verbalize what they know.

  3. Lead a student-centered, whole-room discussion. The Activate pods also allow students to share with the whole class to lead a student-centered discussion. When students are presenting their work to the class, they amplify their voices using the pods. Students love speaking with the microphone because it makes them feel important, and they know they’re being heard. Teachers can also wirelessly connect the system to their interactive whiteboards so students can clearly hear videos, songs, and more.

  4. Catch students (and teachers) shining. With Activate, teachers are able to integrate the new pods with mobile devices to record video and audio. Activate builds on that “in the moment” capability with audio/video recording to capture high-quality evidence of student learning and teacher instruction. Rather than sitting down and having a conversation about moments they might remember, educators can drive parent conferences with video that displays exactly what the student has been working on in the classroom. Remember how exciting that breakthrough moment was for a student during a course they struggled in? A video record of that lesson illustrates the student’s “a-ha” moment better than any verbal description could.

  5. Encourage teacher-to-teacher collaboration. All teachers know that every moment counts during the school day, and more often than not, a teacher’s peer-to-peer collaboration time is during a four-minute passing period, lunch, or the few precious moments before or after students come into the classroom. Teachers can use Activate to record themselves in the classroom for PD purposes, including teacher evaluations and coaching. Video is changing the way teachers collaborate and share best practices. Using the device’s camera, the Activate App syncs up high-quality audio from the microphone or student pods, overcoming the inability of the device to capture high-quality audio beyond a few inches of its built-in microphone. Teachers can then easily share these videos with coaches and peers for feedback and professional development. Click here to read how teachers in Kansas are using video PD in their classrooms.

  6. Connect devices (and people). Finally, Activate adds advanced tools such as Whisper Coaching, Teacher-to-Teacher communication, and Bluetooth connectivity for wireless audio streaming from mobile devices. Schools want to get the most bang for their buck when purchasing technology, so tools with multiple uses are really beneficial. With Activate, educators use the pods with students for group work and during presentations. They can also use them to listen in on authentic student conversations, to assess student knowledge in action, and to formatively assess on the spot. And at the end of the day, the videos are valuable starting points for PD and evaluation, as well.

Learn more about our new Activate system!

Shaun Fagan

Shaun Fagan

Shaun Fagan's mission at Lightspeed is to continue to find new ways to create access to learning by studying the dynamics of the classroom. His goals include evolving our instructional audio systems to improve the learning environment for both students and teachers. Outside of the office, Shaun enjoys spending time with his family, running and training for marathons, and rooting for the Oregon State Beavers!

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