Changing the classroom experience with educational audio
At Simi Valley Unified School District, we are committed to making sure every learner feels welcome and can access the resources they need to be successful. This commitment is what inspires us to find impactful new ways to support our student body.
So when we realized that our deaf and hard of hearing population in Mountain View Elementary needed more support, we looked for a solution. This came in the form of an instructional audio system.
We were hopeful that the system would alleviate some of the difficulties our students were experiencing. The result was even better than expected: a district-wide change that not only improved the classroom experience for our hard of hearing students, but also changed the classroom experience for all of our students and teachers.
Advocacy for educational audio
Studies over the past four decades have highlighted the crucial link between the ability to hear clearly and learning.
In the Handbook of Acoustic Accessibility, Joseph Smaldino, PhD., And Carol Flexer, PhD., Explain that as the noise level in a room increases, children can lose the ability to multitask or perform demanding learning activities.
This became particularly clear during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our schools have adapted safety protocols such as face masks, social distancing, and distance learning to keep students and staff safe.
The changes related to the pandemic have presented new challenges for schools and districts. Although necessary to prevent the spread of the virus, face masks muffle sound, making it more difficult for teachers to relay information and for students to hear it.
Challenges like these have prompted us to accelerate our plan to implement audio instructional in every classroom in Simi Valley. We knew instructional audio was effective, and by bringing the technology across the district, we were able to better support all of our teachers and students. Federal pandemic relief dollars helped fund the district-wide deployment.
Improving learning for all
In addition to improving speech perception, educational audio has been shown to improve student learning and social behaviors, including increased communication with peers and teachers.
Conducted and certified by the U.S. Department of Education, the Mainstream Amplification Resource Room study determined that a variety of student groups benefit from instructional audio, including:
- Hearing-impaired students
- Children under 15
- Students sitting at the back of the classroom
- Students with academic difficulties
- Students in a noisy classroom environment
- Students in a team teaching environment
- Students with a soft-spoken teacher
- Students with learning differences
- English learners
Clear sound is especially important for students with auditory processing disorders and attention problems – and can help avoid unnecessary referrals. The MARRS study found that the number of students referred to special education in K-6 grades decreased by 43% in amplified classes – for students with and without hearing loss.
Other studies have identified associations between the use of educational audio systems and academic achievement, including literacy, reading fluency, listening comprehension, and reading vocabulary.
We feel these effects firsthand. We quickly realized that educational audio could benefit all learners, not just the hearing impaired.
However, the need for educational audio does not end with students.
In Visible Learning for Teachers, it is revealed that teachers speak an average of 70-80% of class time. However, teachers who use instructional audio systems report easier speaking and greater vocal endurance, as well as decreased fatigue and greater clarity of voice. This has certainly been the case in our own district. Some of our soft-spoken teachers have reported an increase in energy because they are no longer forcing their voices to be heard.
Mountain View teachers led the charge in our search for an educational audio solution. It was important for us to allow enough time for research, as these were the staff members who would be using the technology in their classrooms every day.
Ultimately, our district decided to implement Lightspeed’s instructional audio system. Even our teachers who aren’t so tech-savvy feel comfortable using it to the fullest in the classroom. They see that when students have fair access to sound, they can capture more than what their teacher is saying – they are also able to capture the instructor’s tone and intonation.
Investing today benefits the learners of tomorrow
Clear communication between teachers and students has never been more urgent. As we rethink what education looks like, what it looks like and what it looks like, it is essential that we reflect on the changes we can make today for the benefit of the students and teachers of tomorrow.
In Simi Valley, educational audio has a tremendously positive impact on the lives of teachers and students. We have cultivated an environment where every learner can hear every word – a goal other districts can achieve.
With pandemic relief funds available to support reopening schools, we suggest that school and district leaders consider including instructional audio in their plans – it has the potential to become one of yours. most essential tools.
Jennifer Goldman is the principal of Mountain View Elementary School in Simi Valley, California. Sean Goldman is the Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services for the Simi Valley Unified School District.
Like this article ? Sign up for SmartBrief on EdTech to get news like this delivered to your inbox, or view all of SmartBrief’s education newsletters, covering vocational and technical training, educational leadership, teaching math and more.
/ ** /“);});}