By David Solomon
We’ve made some significant changes at Lightspeed, and we wanted to give you a little of the back-story on why. At ISTE 2017, we unveiled our new corporate identity, as well as our new Activate line of instructional audio products.
Lightspeed Technologies à Lightspeed, A Learning Company
For the past 25 years, we have been Lightspeed Technologies. When our product was simply a speaker system and a microphone, that name made a lot of sense. As teaching and instruction have evolved, we've become focused on showing educators the powerful impact audio systems have on learning and student achievement.
Teachers are no longer standing at the front of the room giving lectures. In fact, we see teachers employing many different strategies during the course of the day and even a single class. Our tools are designed to enhance what educators are already doing in the classroom. With our expanded focus on teaching and learning, we have evolved. We are now a learning company focused on supporting teachers and students by providing best practices during everyday classroom lessons.
This shift in thinking has been an evolution over the past eight years, and we now have the products, the knowledge, and the team to back up our claims that Lightspeed helps educators overcome challenges they are facing modern instruction strategies. As part of the rebranding, Lightspeed products are now split into three pillars: Engage, Activate, and Collaborate and Share.
Engage the Whole Classroom
Research proves that 30% of all students diagnosed with learning disabilities have histories of chronic middle ear problems, and nearly 100% of all children will develop some period of hearing loss related to ear infections, allergies, and medications from birth through 11 years. That’s an extremely large population of students that we need to serve. Lightspeed’s Whole Classroom tools include existing Access technology products: Redcat, Topcat, and 995. These products revolutionized the way classroom audio is delivered.
- Our Redcat product weighs less than 3lbs and the 15-inch speaker can saturate a 1,500 sq. foot room with highly intelligible speech.
- The all-in-one Topcat single speaker system has amazed users by delivering voice and media so evenly across the room through a single ceiling speaker.
With these products, we are proud to provide every student with an equal opportunity to hear and learn and every teacher the tool to deliver their message.
Activate Learning During Small-group Instruction
We believe your best teachers are not lecturers or even facilitators. They are “activators.” According to John Hattie, in his book, Visible Learning, active and guided instruction is much more effective than unguided, facilitative instruction. Lightspeed connects with educators all over the nation, and we’re seeing a major shift from teacher-lead learning to a setting that is student-lead, collaborative, and project-based. Methods such as reciprocal learning, teaching students self-verbalization, direct instruction, setting challenging goals, and monitoring learning, are all more effective than facilitative methods such as gaming, inquiry-based teaching, individualized learning and problem-based learning.
To support these proven methods of instruction, we created the new Activate product line, which includes:
The Activate Station charging and control center;
- Portable pods the size of a glasses case that doubles as handheld microphones; and
- The Activate App, which captures video and gives access to a cloud-based video storage platform.
This new line of products focuses on small group instruction and gives teachers direct insight into the conversations happening within small groups. Activate is an effective tool for informing and enabling direct interactions between teachers and student as well as among students when it is most appropriate. It also improves all aspects of these interactions including monitoring, direct instruction, student sharing and whole group instruction.
Collaborate and Share With Enhanced Professional Development Tools
With the simplicity and quality of existing personal mobile devices, most teachers are already equipped with a robust camera for a video that will effectively serve their classroom needs. However, being able to capture high-quality audio with the video, particularly in a classroom setting where the audio source is rarely a few inches from the device's built-in microphone, remains a significant challenge.
The Lightspeed Activate app combined with Lightspeed’s wireless microphones and student pods is intuitive. The IOS and Android cameras for integrated into our Activate App, which perfectly sync of audio from pods and microphones with the video without any effort on the user’s part.
There are a few main aspects of video PD that we’ve addressed with Activate.
- Audio Quality: The little microphone on your phone or tablet isn’t the best tool for picking up the sound, and using an external microphone means you have to run cords, which is a mess. The app connects directly to the speaker pods, eliminating poor audio issues.
Peer-to-Peer Learning: It’s a rare occasion if a teacher gets to sit in on a colleague’s lesson, but we’ve discovered that peer-to-peer learning is extremely effective. The Activate App has made professional development between teachers easy as they’re able to use the app to record a lesson, and share it so fellow educators can watch it on their own time. It’s a great way for teachers to have open conversations and share best practices when teaching specific lessons without taking valuable classroom time away from the students.
Shareability: Just capturing these videos means nothing if you can't share them. Educators can upload their recordings to a cloud-based server, and anyone in the learning community, including coaches, can watch the video, add tags, and make comments. Coaches can share best practices videos with others to improve instruction, dramatically decreasing the time they spend on teacher evaluations.
The Access family of audio and video solutions is not just an audio device or a recording device. It is real-time learning through listening--students learning from teachers, and teachers learning from students. While there are solutions for recording groups, they serve only as a reflection and review tool.
We spent many years evangelizing classroom audio because it was our mission, and research proves it was something educators and students needed to improve education. While audio is still foundational for our company, we are aligning our classroom audio systems with the vision of school leaders and their immediate needs.
David Solomon is the President of Lightspeed, A Learning Company
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