When Bibb County students head back to class next week, their teacher won’t be the only thing watching over them countywide. Patrina Fulks is preparing for her new 8th grade science classes at Ballard-Hudson Middle School. She has everything ready including beakers, posters, and a camera hovering up above. “It empowers you in different ways,” Fulks said.
She’s been using the camera and audio enhancement system since 2015. That’s when Ballard Hudson started piloting the system for the district. Principal Eclan David says it’s designed to help teachers’ professional development so they can record and watch their lessons. They then meet with instructional coaches and administration for feedback.
CANANDAIGUA — Within two years, every student in the Canandaigua City School District will be assigned Chromebook computers for new learning methods in a technological world. The classroom technology project is among 154 Smart Schools Investment Plans recently approved by the state to help close what is being called the digital divide and equip students with the technological skills they will need to succeed in the modern economy.
Audio Enhancement of Bluffdale, Utah, didn’t start out as a school safety firm; it began in an attempt to solve a problem. In 1978, founder Claudia Anderson, mother of two profoundly deaf children, sought a way to ensure all students – regardless of hearing ability – could benefit equally from standard classroom instruction. Even today, the company remains primarily committed to its original mission of providing classroom audio solutions that distribute and amplify instruction. However, after receiving feedback from multiple longtime clients, the company has expanded its mission to include classroom safety.
“Audio Enhancement surround sound which research says students lose about a third of information presented because they simply don’t hear a third of what’s presented during the school day. So the audio is very critical and then a camera that is controlled by the teacher in every classroom. When the teacher turns their back to write on the interactive panel sometimes the information can be lost because you’re not hearing the teacher as she has her back turned. She will be wired with a microphone; every teacher will be required to wear an Audio Enhancement microphone. Students also use a microphone. On the mic there is also a panic button so if an incident like a medical situation happens with a student then we know exactly what we are walking into when he or she pushes that button we’re sent a digital photograph of what’s actually occurring in that classroom.”
WASHINGTON COUNTY, TN (WJHL)- Washington County, Tennessee commissioners will soon vote on a plan that could transform your students’ classroom. The school board last night voted to build a brand new kindergarten through eighth-grade school in the Boone’s Creek area. That proposal will now go before the full county commission later this month.
While that new school is years away, Washington County’s new Director of Schools, Kimber Halliburton, already has a vision to build it around technology. She said, “I’d like to equip every classroom in Washington County tomorrow with all of this technology.”
Halliburton says technology can greatly improve students’ learning with elements like the clear touch panel that’s being used in Ridgeview Elementary’s technology demonstration classroom.
About 2 weeks ago, a co-presenter (Alex) from an audio/visual (“A/V”) vendor at a start of year professional development offered me a wearable mic for my 3-hour stint – which I declined out of teacher-voice pride (maybe hubris?). When it was offered to me again about an hour into the training I was glad I accepted because my vocal cords came to appreciate the benefits of sound reinforcement. Regardless of where I stood or which direction I pointed, I could speak at a conversational volume and every single person in the room could hear me as if I was standing next to them. This experience got me super interested in the research and work behind Audio Enhancement, who have somehow slipped under my radar until this point.
At its simplest level, their sound solution is a wearable mic that projects a teacher’s voice at the ideal learning volume for every student, in every part of the room. I followed up with Alex to get some research on what effect this has on student learning and teacher retention. I was blown away by some data points from independent research institutions (non-Audio Enhancement sources):
Sustained year over year achievement gains in core academic subjects >10%
Fewer discipline issues and greater on-task behavior (up to 17% increase)
Reduction in vocal fatigue symptoms and as a result teacher absenteeism (as high as 36% improvement)
Washington, D. C. May 25, 2016 — Teaching is an occupation with a high risk of developing vocal problems — teachers have more than twice the voice problems than people in other professions, as the voice is the major tool in classroom instruction and is often used for long periods of time and in noisy environments. Additionally, females face a significantly higher risk than men of developing long-term vocal problems. Therefore female teachers, the predominate population of teaching workforce, face a dual risk for developing prolonged voice problem. In a collaboration between Harvard Medical School and the Gould Voice Research Center, researchers displayed that the cost of teachers’ voice injuries to the U.S. economy is estimated at US$2.5 billion per year. As a result, many scientists have worked on finding the physiological causes to help teachers prevent and treat voice problems.
Vocal fatigue is a common complaint among teachers and one of the most debilitating conditions that can lead to vocal damage. The typical symptoms include hoarseness, vocal tiredness, muscle pains and lost or cracked notes. However, the actual physiological mechanism of vocal fatigue is still being explored, and it is often difficult to accurately diagnose the cause as the patients’ vocal folds may look normal during an exam.
Now, a group of researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Utah have found a potential link between pulmonary function and the symptoms of voice fatigue unique to women. The study proposed a common, simple, low-cost tool that could aid medical experts in detecting potential voice fatigue at an early stage, which would help teachers to better prevent and treat voice problems. The researchers will present this work at the 171th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), being held May. 23-27, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Read More[PDF]
ACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Bibb County School District plans to put cameras in every middle school and Veterans Elementary next year.
Ballard-Hudson Middle School tested the new audio/visual system this year. Teachers received their classroom cameras and speakers in October.
It took some time for 6th grade teacher Doneshia Gordon to get used to her new accessory.
“When it first came in, it was very hard to remember to put it on, to charge it before you leave. I even got to the point where I was like I don’t even need this mic! You can hear me,” said Gordon as she gestured to the teardrop shaped microphone hanging from her neck.
The new teaching tool is now a staple in Gordon’s daily routine.
“It’s called audio enhancement and what ends up happening is there are speakers in our room so it enables [students] to be able to hear better,” explained Gordon.
She said it’s especially helpful for students who sit in the back of large classrooms.
“Some students can’t hear if you have a lot of students talking, if you’re trying to get everyone quiet. When they start hearing you through the speakers it’s like oh, okay, I can hear everything she’s saying,” said Gordon.
Based on gains in student achievement and teacher effectiveness many school districts across the country now include audio reinforcing technology in every classroom. Most of us can relate to conferences in large hotel rooms where the presenter fumbles with a wireless microphone questioning “Can you hear me now?” until someone in the back of the room acknowledges the volume is satisfactory. We have all been frustrated when a member of the audience states a question that no one hears and the presenter answers without repeating it. As adults we ask for presenters to speak up, adjust equipment or repeat the question because we are there for a purpose and the information is important to us.
Though the audience in a school classroom knows the information is just as important, the confidence and skill set needed to speak up and ask the teacher to do anything different is not likely to exist. If there is background noise, if the teacher speaks in low tones, speaks while facing the board, has an accent or talks fast, or if some children are hearing impaired; it is possible some students will not receive the information. Unlike adults, it is unlikely the child will complain they
cannot hear or make a request for the teacher to repeat information they did not hear.
Over the past few months, many Duncanville ISD students and staff have expressed their excitement about the new technology being implemented in classrooms across the district. Currently, about 85% of all eligible classrooms are fully equipped with the district’s standard equipment. The remaining 15% are scheduled for installations during the 3rd implementation phase beginning in April.
Hyman Elementary staff members have reported that they have seen a major difference in how students are learning since the arrival of our district’s technology classroom ecosystem. “My students think it is the coolest thing ever!” says Hyman teacher Claudia Galvan. “It has increased engagement in my classroom as well as participation from students who were previously reluctant to share their thinking.”