January 28, 2020

By Shaun Fagan

The primary channel for learning is something that can’t be seen: listening.  

In fact, children spend 75% of their school day listening. But research has verified that thousands of children are at risk academically from classroom audio inequality created by mild hearing loss, distance, and noise. 

Mild hearing loss is holding kids back 

An incredible 30% of children K-3 have some form of mild hearinglosswhether from ear infections, allergies, developmental conditions, or other reasons. If left untreated, 70% of kids who have mild hearing loss will fall behind and suffer academic deficiencies by sixth grade. 

Physics and noise prevent equal access for all students 

Kids sitting closest to their teacher may be able to hear the instruction just fine. But with the combined effects of distance and inherent background noise, a teacher’s voice level drops by 75% for a child 12 feet from their teacher’s position in the room. Using the “teacher voice” and projecting does not overcome this issue. Being louder does nothing to improve clarity. (Educational audiologist Daniel Ostergren explains the difference between loudness and clarity here.) That difference has a significant impact on learning because 

Young listeners can’t fill in the blanks 

While adults need to hear only 50 – 60% of words to comprehend what they hear, children need to hear 90-100%. Immature listeners don’t have the experience to help them understand the context and fill in the blanks when they miss part of what the teacher is saying.  

These barriers can isolate students, restricting their ability to engage with the teacher and one another. If they can’t hear properly, students will disengage and become bored—and ultimately, their learning will suffer.  

Classroom audio creates a better learning environment  

Classroom audio solutions ensure that all students can clearly hear the teacher, regardless of where they are in the classroom. Lightspeed’s all-in-one Topcat or Redcat Access solutions produce crystal clear sound from a single speaker, minimizing or eliminating installation costs. Teachers wear a wireless microphone, and a speaker system distributes clear audio to the whole room. A second microphone is available for student sharing and presentations to the class. 

As collaborative learning strategies have students spending more and more time working in independent groups, classroom audio plays a more critical role than ever in education. Lightspeed’s Activate builds on the whole room solution allowing teachers to communicate with multiple small groups to listen in and gain insights into the collaborative learning process. 

Ensuring that every student can hear the teacher properly results in significant reductions in student off-task time, teacher redirections, even teacher vocal strain, and absenteeism. Next-generation classroom audio creates new access to listening and learning like never before. 

To learn more about the different benefits classroom audio can provide, download the 
“6 Reasons a Classroom Audio System Benefits Teachers and Students infographic. 

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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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