Posts Tagged ‘Soundfield’

Soundfields – improving focus and outcomes

One of the challenges  in many classrooms, particularly in older schools, is their acoustics. Every teacher has found themselves raising their voice, even to the point of straining it, to be heard above the general chatter and hubbub of the room, even when everyone is on task.

This may be because it is a big, airy, spacious room, with parquet floors and big windows, perhaps from Victorian or Edwardian times, or even from the post-war period, with concrete walls and linoleum on the floors. They are not, generally spaces, where the focus has been on  acoustic properties and the ability of the teacher to be heard without raising their voice.

The result is that teachers struggle to be heard, and pupils find it hard to make out what they are saying, even more so if they have a hearing impairment. A Soundfield might the answer.

What is it?

Essentially it is a classroom amplification system. The teacher wears a discrete microphone and anywhere  between one and six speakers ensures that their voice is subtly enhanced. Louder, yes, but also clearer. So everyone in the room distinctly hears what is being said. Handheld microphones can also be used, perhaps for pupil contributions and questions. And, with enough speakers, any space can be catered for, regardless of size, or additional distractions, such as extractor fans in design technology or science labs.

Who is it for?

Whilst pupils with hearing impairments will undoubtedly benefit from having a better quality version of what the teacher is saying – there are also add-ins that can connect directly to hearing aids – anyone in the room can find it helpful. It means not having to strain to hear clearly, which makes it easier to focus on what is needed to be heard, without extraneous sounds, and getting information clearly and accurately the first time – meaning less need to ask peers or staff what was said, or what needs to be done.

How do I use it?

At the most basic level you plug a speaker into a socket and put a microphone on, then adjust the volume to a comfortable level. For more complex installations speakers are hung on the walls at optimum intervals and peripherals added.

When learners hear clearly they understand better, and respond more quickly and accurately. Hence, outcomes improve.

What else is there?

It is possible to get classroom amplification very cheaply. Even an 8watt speaker hung on your belt, such as a tour guide might use on a walking tour of London, can make a significant difference, and can be had for as little as twenty pounds from Amazon.

You could also use a commercial amplification system. The difference with a Soundfield is in working to ensure even sound across the space, at volume levels that are not particularly loud.

There are a few companies providing Soundfield systems. For more information try these