Classroom Technology: Opinions on Mic/Speaker systems to Amplify voice in classroom?

Hi, I recently ran across this blog that shared some statistics about the usage of amplified classrooms and what some of the benefits are.

I have had teachers that have used them in the past and they seem to have really helped.

Have any of you used this method?  What are your likes/dislikes?

I can image it might create some technical problems and even if it is not in the budget, the stats show that it will help students so much more than the cost would hurt.

Thoughts?

Tags: amplified, classrooms, education, in, microphone, speaker, special, systems, technology

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Most of the classrooms at my school have them. Most of the teachers prefer them. They usually have 2 mics one for teacher and one to share for students. Some drawbacks are the sound can be loud in other classrooms if not careful. Not sure what brand they are, they were supplied with our model classrooms.
I use a classmate 1000 system and I frankly could not live without it. Of all the technology I've used/added the last 8 years it is by far the most effective.
We used this in our classroom and the results were amazing. The students behaved better and we were able to directly pinpoint it to the use of the mic/speaker. Cost is definitely an issue, just like anything else. Classrooms with students with special needs are able to get the resources more than a classroom with out students with special needs, but where there is a will there is a way.
Dear Kevin,

My most impressive teachers had booming voices and engaging personalities. I could not ignore them, no matter how hard I tried!
The audio amplification/enhancement systems, just make palin sense.

I have a generic description on my website that I am posting here. I think that it will help.....a little.

"Simplified Classroom Audio Guide
Improving the volume, clarity, and dispersion of a teacher’s voice makes sense!
If a child can hear the teacher clearly, it is more likely that the child will understand what the teacher is saying.

We need to capture, receive, amplify and disperse the teacher’s voice.

Capture: Microphones. They can be wired or wireless.
Wired microphones limit a teacher's movement around the classroom.
Handheld microphones are fine for singers, but teachers need their hands. A wireless microphone is more practical. Wireless units transmit (rf) radio signals or (ir) infrared signals to a tuned receiver. Wireless microphones can be worn on the lapel, over the head, as a headset or around the neck as a pendant.
Lapel and headset types need to be connected to a belt pack transmitter, the pendant type and some athletic headsets are complete microphone and transmitter units.

Wireless Receiver: A sensor that converts the microphone signals to an electrical sound wave signal.
Infrared receivers need a wide field of view and must be centrally mounted, preferably on a ceiling.
Radio frequency receivers utilize antennae and can be out of sight, mounted directly on or near the amplifier. Radio signals penetrate walls and may interfere with other devices that monitor similar frequencies. This interference is minimized by using high frequency ranges (2.4GHZ) that are not in wide use.

Dispersion: Speakers
The number, size and placement of speakers are the most critical components of any classroom audio system. Speakers need to be matched to the amplifier and should be mounted as high as possible above the floor.

The acoustics of each room is important. Sound reflects off of floors and walls, the returned sound waves produced can interfere with or feedback into the microphone. Test different speaker placements for the best results.
Just listen, you'll know.

Minimum: One centrally mounted or two wall or shelf mounted speakers placed on opposite corners facing the students, or in the rear corners of the room aimed toward the center of the room.

Better: Four speakers are better than two. Each setup is different, depending upon the size and shape of the room.

BEST! Four to six, evenly spaced, ceiling mounted speakers. These usually are aimed straight down, however, some ceiling speakers can be aimed for better coverage. This setup provides an even dispersion of voice and music at a lower volume. The room literally fills with sound.

COST! A small desktop PA or Stereo 2 speaker setup should cost between $70.00 - $400.00
A fully installed ceiling system, will cost from $2,000 to $4,000 for each room.
A do it yourself setup is under $1000.00.

Assisted Technology: Individual student wireless headsets are available and can be incorporated into any class environment. They provide amplified audio to individual students. "

JJC
How many students are in your classroom and what is the actual size of the room itself? Is there any other technology you can leverage? Such as, if you are in a computer lab or have 1:1 in your classroom, there is software that can allow you to use a basic computer microphone that will broadcast through all of the computer speakers in the classroom.
We have Lightspeed-tek infrared microphone systems in all of our classrooms. We started with Shure radio mics but found that there are not enough channels to allow for forty plus classrooms.

The mics work great. The teachers and students who use them really like them. Our biggest problem is getting the teachers to use them. Most think that yelling is cooler than hanging a mic around their necks. Even when I demo the mics and they see how well the sound covers the classroom and how much better a talking voice sounds, they go back to shouting across the classroom. Old habits die hard.
Hey Mitch,

I think there's a little more depth to your teacher's resitance to PA systems , than just old habits.

When we communicate through speech, inflection, volume and tone allow us to enhance our ideas. It provides a more precise control.
Amplification in a restricted space may inhibit these verbal tools. One may lean toward a more monotone delivery. "Bueller......Bueller,,,,,,Bueller" We've all had that Ben Stein character as a teacher, at least once.

I visited a classroom that had an installed 4 speaker amp system a year or two ago. After my demo, I asked the teacher to show me how the system worked. The spread and volume of her voice was uniform and smooth. Great! Right? Well, I immediately thought of Nurse Kratchet's voice, over the PA system in "One Flew Over the CooCoos Nest". The sound of the teacher's voice seemed institutionalized, somewhat less personal.

What do you think?

JJC
I have used sound systems for over 30 years. There is actually much greater opportunity to modulate your voice with a sound system than when you are trying to make sure the person in the last row can hear you. Have your teachers (and students) observe comedians, newscasters, and Discovery Channel narrators. With just a little thought and practice, an amplified voice can add a whole new dimension to a presentation.
Hey Mike,
I actually do not have a classroom at this point but am just interested in hearing your opinions and experience to be more informed when I will teach more regularly.

I didn't know the computer software option, what are some of the best programs for that?

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