Amplify Learning Series: Get to know SMART Audio (part 1)
Classroom amplification systems have the power to make learning more accessible for all students – especially language learners, young learners or students with hearing difficulties. These systems can also reduce vocal strain from teaching and enhance the multimedia experience of your lessons.
The Amplify Learning blog series explores the SMART Audio classroom amplification system, and discusses how its design details and integration with SMART Notebook collaborative learning software make it a valuable addition to any SMART-enabled classroom.
Our first post in the series talks about the specific benefits of SMART Audio for teachers, students and administrators.
The sounds of learning, unfortunately, can be noisy and make it difficult for your teaching voice to rise above the rest. By using the system’s infrared microphone, it’s a lot easier for your words and any lesson audio to rise above the ambient noise of your classroom.
Spread the sound around
SMART Audio includes four wall- or ceiling-mounted speakers that ensure the sounds of your lessons are evenly distributed throughout the classroom to reach every student – it’s more effective than front-of-room speakers alone. SMART Audio’s four 15-watt speakers offer an even, clear sound with no distortion in virtually any small- to medium-sized learning environment.
Enhance your lessons
Multimedia – whether it’s an audio file of the famous Iron Curtain speech, a video of lions in their natural habitat or an interactive math game with sound effects – can be a motivating and meaningful way to teach students a concept. SMART Audio ensures all the important sounds are broadcast eve nly through its four speakers throughout your classroom for all your students to hear.
Centralize your audio control
There’s no need to leave your SMART Notebook lesson when you need to adjust the volume of the SMART Audio system or other multimedia devices – you can control all the audio in your classroom from one central place. This system is seamlessly integrated with SMART Notebook collaborative learning software, so you control and adjust the volume from inside your lesson. You can easily adjust volume on up to five audio inputs – whether it’s your DVD player, MP3 player or second microphone. This integration also ensures that you can seamlessly control audio when using the SMART Board, SMART Podium, or SMART Slate.
Engage students fully
Numerous studies indicate auditory learners make up between 20 and 30 percent of the classroom. Add that to the number of language learners and students who have hearing difficulties in your classroom and it quickly becomes apparent how important classroom acoustics are!
But even in good acoustic classroom environments, with minimal background noise and reverberation and a high signal-to-noise ratio, students with good hearing still recognize only 71 percent of the speech they hear. * And as younger students do not have fully-developed brain networks for auditory processing, when they miss a word, they are unab l e to ‘fill in the gaps’ of a conversation.
SMART Audio system helps im prove your classroom acoustics by enhancing the quality and clarity of sound in your classroom. Improved sound quality helps engage all your students in learning, which can impact their overall performance. In fact, research has shown that classroom amplification can improve standardized test scores by 10 percent. **
Encourage student participation
With the system’s microp hone, students can add their voice to a discussion or present on a topic and the sound will reach everyone. You can either hand them the included lightweight infrared microphone or purchase an additional infrared microphone for your students’ use.
Reduce the strain on your voice
Teachers typically have to raise their voices when teaching to be heard over the ambient noise. A variety of research studies show that classroom amplification systems, like SMART Audio, reduce vocal strain risk that teachers face, from their ‘vocally demanding’ jobs. The amount of time that teachers spend using their voice makes them more significantly more at risk for voice problems than non-teachers, according to findings by the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Utah. And in fact, teachers are more likely to miss work due to vocal strain, than non-teachers.
Researchers at the National Center for Voice and Speech also say that female teachers are more at-risk than male teachers due to differences in laryngeal system, respiratory system and other factors. But by using the SMART Audio system’s microphone regularly, you can protect your vocal health, while ensuring your voice rises above the ambient noise of your classroom.
Extend the return on investment
SMART Audio connects to your school’s existing intercom systems, so when a school-wide broadcast is on, the classroom audio will mute or duck, and broadcast the announcement being made over the system’s four speakers. If you have a room control system, it can be connected to SMART Audio, thereby allowing teachers to activate either a security alarm, your blinds, a projector or another device, through a programmable button on the teacher microphone.
Complete your classrooms
SMART Audio is designed to seamlessly integrate with the other SMART products you already have in your classrooms. That’s because it’s part of SMART education solutions, which make it easy for your teachers to create and deliver extraordinary lessons. Each product in our integrated solutions is designed to add interactivity and foster student engagement.
Up next: In Part 2 of the Amplify Learning series, we’ll explain how SMART Audio works and how you can use it in your classroom.
*Crandell, Carl C. & Smaldino, Joseph J. (2000). Classroom acoustics for children with normal hearing and with hearing impairment. Language, speech, and hearing services in schools. Vol. 31. October 2000: 362-370.
**Gertel, S., McCarty, P., & Schoff, L. (2004). High performance schools equals high performing students. Educational Facility Planner, 39(3), 20-24.