Sometimes you gotta do the research 

Editor’s note: Much has changed since this column was published in 2011, we have updated to include additional resources. 

Tracing the efficacy of classroom audio 

Research is a big deal when considering adopting technology for the classroom. Decision makers must consider several factors before committing themselves and their dwindling technology funds. Manufacturer’s claims must be vetted. If you’re as cynical as I am, even the testimony of other educators can be twisted. So, what’s an educator to do? 

Several administrators at Miami-Dade County Public Schools had seen and heard classroom audio systems at trade shows. They listened to the sales pitches and scanned the data sheets but wanted to know what kind of research backed up the claims. If they were going to adopt a piece of technology for each of their classrooms, they needed a boat load of research proving its efficacy. 

That’s when Christie Blazer, then the Supervisor of Research Services Assessment of Miami–Dade County Public Schools took on the project. Blazer spent months poring over research that had been published over the previous 20+ years. “Improving the Classroom Environment: The rational underlying the use of classroom audio systems in general education classrooms” is a well-documented, unbiased compilation of the facts. 

Here are the top 4 takeaways: 

  • Today’s classrooms are becoming more tech-savvy but are noisier than ever. 
  • Children listen differently than adults and need a quieter environment and louder auditory signal to learn. 
  • Classroom audio is no longer just for those with hearing loss, but for the entire student population. 
  • Research shows instructional audio has a positive impact on student academic achievement. 

More resources:  

E-book: Improving student learning through clear, intelligible sound 

Research: The MARRS Project.: Mainstream Amplification Resource Room study 

Research: The benefits of classroom audio technology 

Case Study: An assessment of the efficacy of a classroom audio distribution system using Language Environment Analysis (LENA)Shape 

Infographic: 6 reasons a classroom audio system benefits teachers and students