Microphone Check

March 18, 2008 1 min read

Technological advances have fueled a growth in the use of special microphones and speaker sets in the classroom that promise even the most soft-spoken teachers the ability to be fully heard by their students. Originally intended only for classrooms with special needs students, many schools are planning to install systems in all of their classrooms at a cost of up to $1,500 a room, according to a report by The New York Times.

Some experts however, suggest that the technology is being used to address the symptoms and not the causes. Says David Lubman, a fellow of the Acoustical Society, “In most cases, they’re putting [microphones] in as a substitute for good acoustics. In other words, instead of cutting down the noise, they’re blasting over the noise, so the net result is more noise.” Kindergarten Teacher Michal Linkar permanently switched off her microphone after finding it was not conducive to the kind of learning she wanted to provide. “I would rather they stop and pay attention than make it easier for them to hear me so they don’t pay as much attention,” she said.

Still, it’s hard to argue with results. In the West Orange district in New Jersey, a stereophonically-enhanced elementary school reportedly saw an increase in the percentage of students reading at or above grade level by an impressive 30% in just one year, with no changes to faculty or curriculum. There’s no mishearing those results.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.