Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Audio Enhancement is Coming to your Classroom

As part of the bond program, audio enhancement will be installed in most BVSD classrooms to help teachers and students hear each other better. The need for audio enhancement was identified by the Capital Improvement Planning Committee (CIPC) for inclusion in the bond master plan.

Whittier 7.jpgAmy Lears, BVSD Audiologist, explains the vision for audio enhancement as a system that “allows for both teachers and students to amplify their voices. Students who tend to be more soft spoken and or shy will be able to use the microphone so all in the learning community can hear their voices, helping them participate and gain confidence in oracy.”

In her work, she encounters research about the meaningful impact of this technology on learning. She explains that “numerous studies have shown the benefit of classroom amplification on standardized test scores, spelling, reading fluency, phonological awareness, math skills and concept understanding, classroom behavior, attention and on task behavior, and increased classroom discussion participation.” Read more about audio enhancement research and background for additional resources.

The audio enhancement systems will be replacing and modernizing the current Calypso systems for sound in the classroom. Part of this change includes an upgrade to a single HDMI wall connection which will replace the two VGA wall connections. The advantages of HDMI (digital) over VGA (analog) include:
  • carries audio and video in a single cable
  • has flush connector pins that do not bend or break
  • has higher quality video output

This upgrade will require changes to many digital devices as well. Most old desktops and document cameras use VGA connections and require a converter in addition to the existing splitter to work with audio enhancement. This leads to a complicated setup that requires several cables and power sources that many would find daunting to use.

After research and testing, the Bond, Ed Tech, and IT teams have concluded that the best course of action moving forward is to adjust the Employee Technology Tools schedule to coincide with the audio enhancement installations. This means that your old desktop and document camera (if you currently have one) will be replaced with a new Chromebook (or an HDMI Windows laptop for CS, Engineering and Digital Arts) and USB document camera when audio enhancement is installed.

This new setup will:
  • simplify the teacher experience in connecting devices to project
  • eliminate converters/dongles/splitters
  • reduce setup and troubleshooting time
  • add a path for future connectivity to 4K TVs
BHGT 20.jpgI can't underestimate the change involved with this transition. With that in mind, IT will be working closely with the Bond office and key school staff to ensure teachers have the support and training needed for a smooth transition. More information will be available soon, as the install for audio enhancement for Phase 1 schools is going on now and will most likely begin for Phase 2 schools this summer.

The possibilities this technology provides for all of our BVSD students will continue to enhance instruction and learning opportunities in meaningful ways as it is implemented across the district.

Please chime in below with your thoughts.