Jan 25 2022

Three Things to Know About Audio in the K–12 Classroom

District leaders shouldn't overlook the audio component of educational technology.

While audio may seem like an afterthought when selecting audiovisual technology, high-quality sound is crucial in the classroom, says Gene Osborn of Albemarle County Public Schools in Virginia.

“Learners will limp through a grainy display, but if the audio’s not right — and I’ve heard this from other educators — we really will lose our kids,” he says. “The audio quality piece of the interactive panels is incredibly important.”

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There is research on classroom audio to back up these observations. However, these three points stand out:

1. Some Students Suffer from Hearing Loss

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 15 percent of children ages 6 to 19 have low- or high-frequency hearing loss in one or both ears. COVID-19 can further compound the issue due to social distancing and masking in some classrooms, leading to muffled sounds from both teachers and students.

2. Audio Amplification Can Help

Classroom audio distribution systems, also known as sound field amplification systems, provide benefits to all listeners in a classroom, according to the American Speech Language Hearing Association. So, in addition to installing interactive whiteboards with advanced audio, some schools also install voice amplification systems (which include microphones for teachers) to ensure that sound reaches every corner of the classroom.

3. Teachers Also Suffer in Noisy Environments

According to David Lubman, an acoustic scientist and consultant, teachers’ voices can become fatigued when they are forced to speak loudly to be heard over background noise.

LEARN MORE: Districts use interactive panels as a teacher-driven learning tool in K–12 classrooms.

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