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Benefiting Everyone in School. The impact of classroom audio distribution systems on teaching & learning: A Local Authority Perspective Roger Turner RDT Consultancy: Aural Neural Development & Language Knowledge. Distance & Noise pollution (+15 dB SNR).

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benefiting everyone in school

Benefiting Everyone in School

The impact of classroom audio distribution systems on teaching & learning:

A Local Authority Perspective

Roger Turner

RDT Consultancy:

the benefits of classroom audio distribution systems

Aural Neural Development


Language Knowledge



Noise pollution

(+15 dB SNR)

Hearing impaired




Dialogic Teaching





Which Learners?







Age of building

Size of teaching spaces

Classroom Management


Efficient use of Lesson Time

Even distribution of intelligible speech and all other sound sources

Wireless / Portable

Integrates multimedia & systems for hearing impaired

5-year guarantee

Classroom Acoustics

Why Teachers?




Voice welfare



NXT Technology








Supply Teachers




The Benefits of Classroom Audio Distribution Systems
why learners
Why Learners?

“Talk has always been one of the essential tools of teaching, and the best teachers use it with flair. But talk is much more than an aid to effective teaching.

Children, we now know, need to talk, and to experience a rich diet of spoken language, in order to think and learn. Reading, writing and numeracy may be the acknowledged curriculum ‘basics’, but talk is arguably the true foundation for learning.”

Towards Dialogic Teaching (2010): Prof Robin Alexander, Director Cambridge Primary Review

why learners1
Why Learners?

Barriers to understanding

  • neural immaturity
  • limitations of vocabulary
  • distance from teacher
  • noise pollution / signal/noise ratio
  • audibility and intelligibility
  • lack of consonance clarity resulting in pupils inability to close/complete words and understand sentences
  • mild to severe hearing loss (30%+ on a typical day)
why learners2
Why Learners?


  • The MARRS Project (1979 – 1994)
  • Crandell and Smaldino (1995)
  • Leavitt and Flexer (1991)
  • Rosenberg (2004)
  • Flexer (2002)
  • McCarty and Ure (2003)
  • Chelius (2004)
  • Shields & Dockrell(2008)
why learners3
Why Learners?

Preliminary investigation (2011)

  • Typical American primary schools classroom (8.23m long x 8.13m wide x 4.6m high)
  • Very close to ANSI recommended classroom acoustics standards
  • Placed a Redcat in the classroom on alternate days
  • Used LENA technology to collect and then analyse all sound source material
  • Result: Without Redcat approx 10,000 intelligible words per day / With Redcat approx 15,000 words per day.

Dan Ostergren: Research & Consulting Audiologist

which learners
Which Learners?

“Making a mainstream school more inclusive will create advantages for all the children taught there. For example, an amplification system provided in all classrooms (called a sound field system) will specifically assist children with hearing impairment, and will also help audibility for all other children. It sends a clear message that all children are equal, regardless of their needs, encouraging greater understanding and tolerance throughout the whole school community.”

Creating Excellent Primary Schools (2010): CABE

which learners1
Which Learners?

“Because hearing loss is invisible, the negative results of poor acoustic accessibility and/or unmanaged hearing loss of any degree (behavior problems, attention problems, spoken language difficulty, reading, and academic deficiencies) are erroneously believed to stem from causes other than hearing loss.” (2011)

Carol Flexer, Distinguished Prof Emeritus, Univ. of Akron & NW Ohio

which learners2
Which Learners?

“Children with language disabilities have auditory processing problems with common consonant-vowel combinations that are spoken quickly. The children have trouble hearing them accurately and, as a result, reproducing them accurately.” (1999)

Michael Merzenich: Prof Emeritus of Neuroscience, UCLA)

which learners3
Which Learners?

Pupils with SEN who benefit

  • hearing impairment
  • speech and language processing difficulties
  • attention deficit disabilities
  • behavioural problems
  • developmental disabilities
  • other sensory impairment
  • a lack of self-confidence
  • EAL
why teachers
Why Teachers

Teacher’s health & well-being

  • many suffer voice strain and loss of voice
  • absence as a result of sore throats
  • pupils taught by supply teachers
  • schools incur high supply teacher costs
  • the cost of purchasing CADS technology recovered from reduced supply teacher costs.
  • teachers with vulnerable voices retained in the profession
why teachers1
Why Teachers?

Teacher benefits

  • an ability to more quickly settle pupils
  • give instructions, ask and answer questions, give feedback etc. once
  • engage pupils in work more quickly
  • a calmer, more industrious working atmosphere
  • use their voice with much greater variety of expression and character
  • increase usable lesson time
  • increased energy throughout the day
classroom acoustics
Classroom Acoustics

Criteria affecting student achievement

  • Human Comfort – i.e., temperatures within the human comfort range
  • Indoor Air Quality – i.e., appropriate ventilation and filtering systems
  • Lighting
  • Acoustical Control

Prioritisation of 31 Criteria for School Building Adequacy (2004)

Glen Earthman: Prof. Emeritus, Virginia State University


“A number of studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between appropriate acoustical conditions and student achievement. Good research indicates students simply do not learn when they can not hear well. As simplistic as this statement sounds, numerous students suffer through school in buildings that are too noisy for them to learn properly, yet nothing is done about it. The ability to clearly hear in the classroom is vital for student learning and teacher performance.” (2004)

Glen Earthman: Prof. Emeritus, Virginia State University

classroom acoustics suffer from
Classroom acoustics suffer from:
  • low public & Government concern
  • insufficient school capital funding targeted at the quality of teaching and learning environment (only 13% focused on scenery and classroom settings)
  • value engineering during the build or refurbishment stage where educationalists are not included
  • the creation of many large and very large teaching spaces
  • a severe reduction in the new Government’s school capital funding budget and in school budgets for the upkeep of schools
  • no funding for ICT in new school building contracts
more positively
More positively
  • It appears that the Government will require new school buildings to meet good acoustics standards in line with BB93
  • Classroom audio distribution systems are a highly cost effective way of achieving higher acoustic standards than BB93 at a time when capital funding is scarce.
more positively1
More positively
  • CADS are now:
    • easy to install with some systems being completely mobile
    • using NXT technology to ensure even voice distribution with no dead areas
    • using high frequencies bands that optimise speech intelligibility
    • instantly controllable through volume control microphones
    • able to integrate all other sound sources including computers, CDs, i-pods, interactive whiteboards etc
    • fully compatible with specialist hearing aids
    • of very high quality, aesthetically attractive, with comfortable light-weight microphones and high reliability with some systems now providing 5 year guarantees.