by Todd Lewis
There’s not a chance in the world that any K-12 student has actually seen those old “can you hear me now” commercials. But there’s a good chance that at some time or another, most students have struggled to hear a lesson taught, a special presentation or the important points a speaker is making.
Oregon-based Lightspeed Technologies has been creating audio solutions specifically for the classroom since the 1990s. They believe that teachers and students being able to hear, listen and understand each other is one of the most important parts of education.
“We are passionate about improving the listening and learning environment for every child. We believe this will strengthen the connection between teachers and students that is at the heart of learning.” the company says.
The company makes portable and fixed audio solutions for the classroom, that once installed or setup are a breeze for teachers, and even students to operate. They’ve also taken the time to really identify how audio equipment is used in the classroom and the areas where it can be an improvement.
For example they Sharemike, a uni-directional microphone designed for kids to pass around the room. The first thing you’ll notice about the high-quality Sharemike is that it’s designed to fit in students hands. It’s also durable, kids like to play with things in their hands and they Lightspeed knows that. The rechargeable microphone lasts 8 hours, so it can be used all day and even left around the room. It also has one-touch sync to the audio system and is designed for very little feedback and virtually no interference. The microphone is uni-directional rather than omnidirectional which means that no matter how the student is holding it, their voice will be heard.
One of the microphones Lightspeed makes for teachers has a volume control on the mic so teachers don’t have to run back and forth to a control system to make sure students can hear them. The company’s TopCat, Redcat, and Flexcat systems have high-quality speakers that are designed so students can hear, from virtually anywhere in the room.
“Our Redcat and Topcat products utilize a series of exciters that apply sound energy directly to our unique sound panels “exciting” the voice signal. Since the energy from the exciters is transferred to the surface of the flat panel, every point across the panel radiates the sound—distributing it evenly throughout the classroom. The high frequencies of the human voice, so easily lost amid classroom noise, come through clearly and intelligibly so every child hears (and understands) every word.” the company says.
Audio in the classroom is often overlooked. It’s so much more than slapping a PA system together. Jamie Reese a K-3 teacher at Mountain View Elementary in Simi Valley California credits the ability for students to actually hear her voice and understand her with empowering students with emotional challenges.
“Last year we launched a pilot of Lightspeed Technologies’ Topcat (a ceiling-mounted speaker) and their Flexcat portable two-way communication pods. The pilot ran from February to May 2016. In that same year, I was awarded Teacher of the Year for Ventura County. The correlation was not coincidental. Because the system dispersed my voice evenly throughout the room, my kids could now hear me more clearly, which helped our students who were deaf and hard of hearing, but also made a significant difference to all kids in my classroom. They didn’t have to work as hard to pay attention, and could feel as if I was right beside them, talking to each student individually.” Reese said.
Learn more about how good audio affects the classroom by visiting Lightspeed Technologies at ISTE 2017 in San Antonio from June 25h-28th, booth #3226 and online at lightspeed-tek.com