Upfitting schools with the right technology will benefit students by providing new opportunities and removing old obstacles from their learning path.
TOP PRIORITIES IN EDUCATION
What are a school’s priorities? Ask school boards, superintendents, and principals, and overwhelmingly you’ll hear the same top two:
High student achievement
Safety of students and staff
In Part 1 of this 2-part series, we will review technology that can easily be added to any classroom and the multiple benefits it provides for students and teachers.
Learning Begins with Hearing
So how do you increase success, starting with quality learning in the classroom? This question was a particular concern of Claudia Anderson, the founder of Audio Enhancement. Her motivation? She was a mother of six children, two of whom had hearing disabilities; so, in 1978 she created technology that would keep those two sons out of special education classes- by adding enhanced audio for the courses they attended. She understood and promoted the concept that “learning begins with hearing.” An exciting thing happened: teachers said the classes with Claudia’s sons in attendance were the easiest classes to teach.
The technology improved the ability for all the students to hear clearly and allowed the instructor to speak in a normal voice. The goal of the system was easy: make the teacher more clearly understood.
If you measure a natural conversation level between two people, the reading would be between 60 and 65 Decibels (dB). As distance is added from the source of a sound, the sound begins to deteriorate. The Principle of Physics known as Inverse Square Law states that sound will decrease by 6 dB with each doubling of distance.
Based on this information a student at the front of a room at optimal levels will hear the teacher as 65 dB, where a student at the back of a basic classroom will lose about 15 dB, hearing the same conversation at 50 dB. At any given time, averages show that about 30% of people are not hearing at optimal levels, whether this is due to illness such as cold or sinus issues, medications, other external noises, or hearing impairments.
High-Achieving Classrooms 5% to 7%
Urban-At-Risk Classrooms 10% to 16%
Special Education Classrooms 30%
“Teachers’ Voice,” the higher tone teachers speak to be heard across the room, is a health concern for the profession. Not only do many teachers use this “teachers’ voice” in the classroom, but become so accustomed to talking at this level, they often continue to speak at this elevated level in their personal life.
Effects of using “Teachers’ Voice” (Source: Harvard Medical):
Teachers are more likely to see a physician about vocal issues
Female teachers are at an even higher risk of suffering from vocal problems
A teachers’ voice disorder can hamper student learning
Two separate studies completed by schools with enhanced audio classrooms, which allow teachers to speak in a normal tone, showed significantly less absenteeism by teachers. A study by Dubuque Community Schools showed a 36% decrease, while Orange County Public Schools showed a 25% reduction.
The result of evenly distributing sound across the classroom is a win-win-win: less teacher absenteeism; more focused teaching time; and higher student listening and achievement.