Literacy and Audio Enhancement

Literacy and Audio Enhancement

Audio Enhancement in the classroom can significantly aid literacy development by creating a more conducive learning environment. Here are several ways in which Audio Enhancement can support literacy:

Improved Listening Skills: 
Ensure all students can hear the teacher’s instructions and classroom discussions clearly. This is especially important for students who may have hearing difficulties. Developing strong listening skills is a fundamental aspect of literacy development.

Enhanced Pronunciation, Phonemic Awareness, and Auditory Comprehension: 
Intelligible and clear audio enables students to hear the correct pronunciation of words and the distinct sounds (phonemes). This can improve their phonemic awareness, which is essential for decoding words and reading fluently. 

Auditory Discrimination: 
Audio Enhancement allows students to differentiate between sounds and identify subtle nuances in pronunciation, aiding their ability to distinguish between similar-sounding words (e.g., “bat” vs. “pat”). This is critical for accurate reading and spelling.

Engagement and Motivation: 
Make classroom activities more engaging and enjoyable. Audio systems enable effective communication, fostering opportunities for students to ask questions, seek clarification, and engage in meaningful discussions about literacy topics. These captivate students’ interest and encourage them to explore literacy further.

Interactive Learning: 
Audio technology can facilitate interactive learning experiences, such as language labs where students can practice pronunciation, engage in language games, and receive immediate feedback on their language skills.

Inclusivity: 
Audio Enhancement systems ensure that all students have equal access to the curriculum and can participate actively in literacy-related activities.

Fluency Development: 
Listening to well-articulated and expressive reading or storytelling can model fluent reading, helping students develop reading fluency and expression.

Confidence Building: 
When students can hear themselves and their peers during reading or speaking activities, it can boost their confidence in using language, which is essential for literacy development.

Assessment and Feedback: 
Audio Enhancement can support oral reading fluency, pronunciation, and comprehension assessments. Teachers can provide feedback and monitor progress effectively.

Audio Enhancement in the classroom can remove barriers to effective communication and create a more inclusive and engaging environment for literacy development. When used strategically alongside other teaching methods, it can contribute significantly to students’ literacy skills, fostering their ability to read, write, and communicate effectively.

Our Savvy CFO Discusses Her Role In a Growing Audiovisual Company

Our Savvy CFO Discusses Her Role In a Growing Audiovisual Company

In advance of International Women’s Day, we sat down with Jennifer Crum, co-owner and CFO of Audio Enhancement, to get her take on dynamics within the family business and the future of audio in education. 

Jennifer Crum headshot

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

February 2021

Jennifer, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. First, please tell us about your mother, Claudia Anderson, who founded Audio Enhancement in 1978. What characteristics did you observe in her that you try to emulate in your own professional life? 

I was seven when my mother started Audio Enhancement, so I grew up watching her building and managing the business. Two of my brothers are deaf, and when they were very young, she considered the advice of audiologists and also what she felt was right for her sons. She determined that there was more than one way to solve a problem. She wasn’t afraid to look for better solutions.

My mother developed individual speakers to place on students’ desks, and a great thing happened. In the process, she discovered that enhanced audio helped everyone in the classroom, not just those hard of hearing. They started doing studies around that and proved that it absolutely helps all students. The concept then grew from a personal system to an entire classroom system. It was awe-inspiring for her to realize the impact her vision could have on education.                   

The biggest thing that she taught me on a day-to-day basis is to never give up. She has always decided on a course of action and keeps going until she gets there. This quality really relates to every aspect of her life, whether it’s work or home or play. She makes it happen. She’s one who doesn’t wait for things to improve but takes the initiative and goes out to find solutions herself. She’s still that way today. Everyone who knows her knows that she doesn’t wait to be invited to the party—she plans the party!

Even though she’s retired and my three brothers and I now co-own the company, we conscientiously try to keep our mother’s passion, determination, and drive at the heart of the business. Everything we do truly revolves around helping kids in education so they can have the best educational experience possible. 

My mother had a clear vision of who she was and what she could do. She didn’t see gender, education levels, or any other qualifiers as barriers but rather as characteristics that gave her the perspective the company most needed.  

–Jennifer Crum, CFO, Audio Enhancement

The theme of International Women’s Day 2021 is “Choose to Challenge.” How did your mother choose to challenge stereotypes in the business and technology industry as she built Audio Enhancement? 

My mother had a clear vision of who she was and what she could do. She didn’t see gender, education levels, or any other qualifiers as barriers but rather as characteristics that gave her the perspective the company most needed.   

The foundation of her company was itself a challenge to stereotypes. She didn’t start out to build a business or say, “I’m going to come up with a product to sell and make a lot of money.” She set out to help her own children. That determination came from being fully invested as a mother, not from wanting to make a million dollars. Her philosophy was. “I’m going to help my kids, and in the process, there will be other children who will benefit.”

Also, when I was a teenager, I started to notice that my mom surrounded herself with really smart people. She didn’t have the educational background or expertise to create the equipment she envisioned, but she hired engineers and designers who had the skills to help her get there. She was not intimidated by them. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like the least qualified person in the room—and your confidence might take a hit for it—but she didn’t care. In fact, she thought it was great. In brilliant ways, she was able to invite others to share her vision and contribute their expertise. 

Jennifer modeling the Teacher Microphone

As you were growing up, how involved were you in the family business, and at what point did you decide to make it your career? 

I’ve been involved in the family business for as long as I can remember. My mom grew up on a farm, and she was taught to work from a very young age. Likewise, she taught us to work from a very young age and regularly assigned us small tasks. When my brothers and I were young, I remember sealing envelopes while we watched TV at night. 

Later as a teenager, I started doing more impactful jobs for the company like helping with the accounting and invoicing. Because of that, I decided to study accounting and finance in college, and it was then that I decided to make the family business my career. 

Claudia Anderson with her 4 children—Justin, Jeremy, Jennifer, Jeff

What individual strengths do you believe you and each of your brothers contribute to the business? 

The question my brothers and I are often asked is, “How do you really like working together?” Our response is always, “It’s the best! We sincerely enjoy it.” 

Each of us has a unique skill set, and we all respect what the others bring to the table. To be honest, we don’t want to do each other’s jobs! Because of the deep respect we have for one another’s talents, there’s never been vying for positions. 

Jeff is so talented with sales and design, Justin does a great job organizing the operations and inventory, and Jeremy and I work together in accounting and finance. Because we all have different interests, we make a well-rounded team. 

How would you say your perspective differs from other company leaders due to your experiences as a working mother? 

It’s definitely a juggling act to be an invested mother of six and a full-time CFO. Similar to what my mother experienced, I believe my role as a mother allows me to offer a different perspective when we talk about the where and what and why of the company and the benefits and flexibility we offer our employees. 

I’m so fortunate, though, that I don’t feel different from my brothers when it comes to prioritizing family in our workplace. My brothers prioritize their families too and sometimes need that same flexibility. We all watched our mother expertly perform this balancing act between motherhood and entrepreneurship, so the values were already in place for us. Perhaps at times I bring the perspective of a woman or a mother, but I never feel like I have to fight for it. We’re all on the same page. 

I’m grateful that my mom built this legacy of mindset for us, and I have seen it manifest in my own children. For example, when one of my daughters was in college, she heard the term “glass ceiling” for the first time in her political science class and didn’t know what it meant. What a wonderful thing to not know! We’ve all been shown that we can do anything we want to do and have always been told, “If you set your mind to it, you can do it and you can be it.” 

Rulon and Jennifer Crum Family

What have you found to be helpful in balancing your professional and family responsibilities? 

The most important thing I’ve been intentional about is being present wherever I am. Again, that’s something I learned from watching my mom. When I’m at work, I work hard. When I’m at home, I enjoy the time with my family. 

When my kids were younger, I made a concerted effort to be home by early evening so I could be with them and give them my full attention. Of course, work responsibilities often can’t be squeezed into an eight-hour workday, so if I needed to get back on my computer to finish some work once the kids were in bed, I’d do that. But I wanted to be very present during those key hours when we were all home together. 

I also prioritized my kids’ events, big and small. I volunteered for their school Halloween festivals and Valentine’s parties, and sometimes it was very hard to leave work in the middle of the day to do that. But I feel that my being there had an important impact on my kids. I didn’t want to miss their performances or activities. It was ideal to have the flexibility to do that. 

Now that my kids are older—I still have teenagers at home—my schedule has changed. They don’t finish their extracurricular activities until later, so I make sure I’m available to them later in the evening. 

Audio Enhancement West Jordan Groundbreaking with 4 Andersons, owners

What do you consider to be the perks of co-owning a family business, and what would you say are the biggest challenges? 

Working with my family is the best part of working in the family business! As a young mom, I was so grateful to be able to see my mom at work everyday. She gave me the flexibility to do what I needed at home and at work. 

Now I love working with my brothers, children, nieces, and nephews. I have four children who currently work with me, and the fact that I get to see them thrive in a work setting everyday is a pretty great thing as a mother. 

I have relationships with my nieces and nephews that I don’t have on the other side of the family simply because we don’t have the same daily connection. Since we interact with each other everyday, we always have things to talk about, and so we’re very close. We truly do value family and friendship. 

When my brother Jeff and I were first parents, we determined that we wanted our kids to be best friends. We would regularly plan activities for them to do together like taking them to the park or to McDonald’s, and to this day they still enjoy each other’s company. Our mother taught us that family relationships are so important and sometimes we may not like each other but we always do love each other. And she taught us how to figure out ways to get past any differences. 

Once in a while a disagreement will arise regarding the business, and it usually has to do with opinions over the best approach to something. When we do have business disagreements, we don’t let them spill over into our personal relationships. We really do have a deep respect for one another’s talents and decision-making abilities, and consequently there’s never hostility because that’s just not how we work. In the unusual case when we can’t come to terms, we’ll table it for a while. Our relationships are far more important than getting our own way. Typically a decision falls toward a department, so that person takes the lead and the rest of us respect their decisions. 

We all agreed years ago that we would never let anything tear us apart. Our family is the most important thing, and if we can work together in a meaningful business, even better. 

We all agreed years ago that we would never let anything tear us apart. Our family is the most important thing, and if we can work together in a meaningful business, even better. 

–Jennifer Crum, CFO, Audio Enhancement

What aspect of the company are you most proud of? 

Our passion for education and helping children in school is our main focus, and I’m most proud of how we’ve stayed true to that mission. 

In the late 1980s we had an advertisement slogan that said, “We woke up the back row!” That was back in the day when the teacher would stand at the front of the room to lecture, and students on the back row would fall asleep. Our products changed that dynamic. Again for my mom, it wasn’t a, “Wow, what a great business driver” but rather, “Wow, we can help every student and every teacher in every classroom.”

I’m pleased that we’ve stayed focused on education, even though there are so many other areas where our products could be adapted for productive uses. We haven’t allowed ourselves to get distracted.

What are your specific challenges as the CFO in a growing audiovisual company? 

Managing rapid growth is my biggest challenge as CFO. Of course our objective is to grow responsibly by having great teams in place, making fiscally responsible decisions that we won’t regret in five years, and working with our ever-present goal of helping students and educators. As challenging as the past year has been with the pandemic, we’ve been able to grow substantially as a business because our products solve many of the problems that COVID-19 has imposed on education. 

Jennifer Crum modeling the Audio Enhancement Teacher Mic in the Classroom
Jennifer modeling the Teacher Microphone

How have you had to adapt to rapidly changing trends in education due to COVID-19? 

Because our company is 100% reliant upon and dedicated to K-12, it was very unnerving when the country shut down in March 2020. When schools shuttered so suddenly, we were worried about students, educators, and our business. However, it didn’t take us long to realize that our products would be hugely beneficial to educators teaching remotely and in person wearing masks. We’ve been able to quickly conduct studies that show how drastically masks affect audio. 

All of us have now had the experience of not being able to hear the cashier at the grocery store—so much gets lost in translation between her mask, your mask, and the plexiglass. How frustrating to be a kid at school who can’t hear anything the teacher is saying! 

We have a great innovations department which was able to pivot our existing product and change it just enough to be more helpful for distance and in-person learning. Our product has been extremely helpful in both scenarios. Gratefully, we were poised and in the right position pre-pandemic, and as a result we’ve been able to help. 

How do you envision the future of Audio Enhancement?  

Audio has always been and will always be a need. Once students have experienced enhanced hearing in a classroom setting, they don’t go back. Students and teachers are going to know that and feel that, and the benefits will continue to be proven by test results.  

The great need for enhanced classroom audio was present long before masks were. I believe that remote learning options will continue, and even though there will be a new normal, I’m confident that Audio Enhancement will play an important part of it. We’ve proven that we can innovate under pressure, and we continue to find new ways to bring products to the market. I think the company will continue to have a growing impact on education in the future, whatever it looks like. 

My advice to anyone starting a business is to build off what you’re passionate about, what you love to do, what you want to spend your life doing and being.

–Jennifer Crum, CFO, Audio Enhancement

What advice would you give to women starting out in business? 

My advice to anyone starting a business is to build off what you’re passionate about, what you love to do, what you want to spend your life doing and being. You want to make sure you’re doing something that is meaningful to you because you’re going to spend a whole lot of time doing it. Never give up, and don’t limit yourself. Remember that you can literally turn your vision into reality.

The Best Classroom Camera Solution to Get You Back to Your A Game

Masked Teacher Microphone Remote Learning

The Best Classroom Camera Solution to Get You Back to Your A Game

Educators, got questions? VIEWpath has answers. Ace this school year with our innovative classroom camera setup.

You know teachers already had enough to juggle: lesson plans, effective instruction, behavior management, student assessments, parent communications, professional development, faculty commitments . . . just to name a few of your responsibilities.

Then without warning, COVID-19 attacked your to-do list, making it exponentially harder and longer. You had to frantically figure out how to convert to an online classroom, completely revamp lesson plans, accommodate both in-person and remote instruction, connect in a helpful (and meaningful) way with students, and troubleshoot every imaginable tech issue. 

And these were just the logistics! You likely felt stressed from social, emotional, financial, familial, and maybe even physical burdens as well.     

Even though you’ve taken a deep dive (or perhaps a forceful shove) off the gangplank into COVID-induced remote learning and have managed to stay afloat, the frustrations continue. 

What if a user-friendly all-in-one technology for school had been implemented before the COVID storm hit? And is it too late for some miracle like that to take effect now?  

Here’s some really great news—maybe even the best news to come out of 2020!  

Such a lifesaver exists. 

Audio Enhancement’s VIEWpath® (Video Interactive Education Window) solution simplifies all audiovisual tech so you can climb out of survival mode and get back to focusing on what you love. 

We know you probably have a zillion questions about simplicity, efficiency, management, and delivery, so we have you covered with our own teacher-style Q&A!

Q: What exactly is VIEWpath and why is it one of the best classroom camera systems on the market? 

A: Audio Enhancement’s VIEWpath solution is a remote and blended learning package that streamlines a classroom’s audio and video content. Designed specifically for educators, it enables you to easily create, manage, and deliver lessons to students who are learning remotely or at school.

Create

With an intuitive interface, VIEWpath allows you to record lessons not only from your installed or portable classroom camera, but also from your personal webcam or mobile app.

4 ways to record lesson

Manage

Quickly upload your videos, then organize them with metadata and in collections.   

Deliver

Best of all, keep your students engaged no matter which way you present content: live-streamed video, recorded video posted to your LMS, or downloaded video on a USB when streaming isn’t possible. 

With the VIEWpath Live feature, which allows you to take advantage of popular virtual meeting platforms, remote students participate in real-time classroom discussion and don’t get left out—or left behind.  

Download or embed lessons to common LMS

Q: What other problems can VIEWpath help me solve? 

A: We’ve done our homework! Here are some of our well-researched answers. 

Accessibility inside or outside your classroom

You no longer need to stand rooted to the floor so your remote students can see you. Our VIEWpath cameras allow you to freely move around your classroom. COVID has enough restrictions already—cornering you in your own classroom shouldn’t be one of them! 

Continuity for your face-to-face and virtual students

The unpredictability of COVID has disrupted the predictability of American education. Whether your school has adopted a fully remote, fully in-person, or hybrid schedule, there are significant numbers of students missing school at any given time, either because they’re staying home out of precaution or quarantining out of necessity. 

VIEWpath provides remote learners the same instruction as those who are physically able to attend school in the classroom. No more replacing teacher instruction with a packet of worksheets! Even more important, teachers themselves can teach remotely if necessary.     

Consistency for homes and schools

Another major hurdle for schools and families alike is the lack of consistency within school districts when it comes to online classroom configuration. 

The result? Different remote learning resources used across schools and families and platforms—and every parent-turned-homeschooling-director’s nightmare! Cue the frazzled parent memes.

With VIEWpath, everyone—from teachers, parents, siblings, superintendents, curriculum directors, tech directors, facility managers, and principals—can finally be on the same streamlined page.  

Q: Do you have any tech solutions along with classroom cameras that can make teaching in a mask less miserable? 

A: Glad you should ask. Yes, we do! 

As you know all too well, wearing a mask has a huge impact on classroom communication—and it’s not a positive one. An Audio Enhancement expert says, “Ensuring every student receives proper volume and clarity of instruction and can understand what is being taught can already be a challenge with the normal background noise of a classroom environment. With teachers needing to speak from under a mask, classroom audio solutions become an essential aid in student education.”

Luckily, our distributed audio solutions that allow for multiple speakers throughout a classroom can drastically help increase comprehension and decrease teacher voice fatigue. 

No need to tolerate muffled mask voice again.   

(See our research about how masks affect classroom communication.)

Q: What about other tech solutions for my students that can make learning in a mask less miserable? 

A: We have those too.

Other products include a variety of speakers, the XD Student Handheld Mic, and even a fun and colorful ball Mic360 that promotes student participation!  

Q: What’s your best tip for teaching with technology, especially with a virtual classroom camera? 

A: This one’s easy. Simplicity! 

We offer two VIEWpath packages, both of which deliver incredibly advanced yet user-friendly technology for school use. Whichever one you choose will make your life so much easier. 

Installed Cameras

Audio Enhancement’s installed classroom cameras allow remote students to see and hear their teachers giving instruction from any location in the classroom. They also make it possible for teachers to see the entire classroom and monitor and record multiple views.  

VIEWpath Blend

Audio Enhancement’s VIEWpath Blend classroom camera is an all-in-one audiovisual solution for the classroom: our audio system coupled with a portable camera (EduCamPTZ) that can pan, tilt, and zoom. With its adjustable height of over 8 feet, the camera can be positioned for a bird’s-eye view of the classroom or lowered to focus on the teacher. Because it is freestanding and easy to move, teachers can choose the best angle for any given activity throughout the school day. 

Setup is as simple as it gets, requiring only a network drop and a power outlet. With no installation required, you can start recording crystal-clear audio and visual content immediately.  

Q: Was VIEWpath originally created as a camera for online teaching?  

A: No, actually. Good question.  

Developed in 2011, VIEWpath proved to be an effective tool for professional development and learning; teachers could record themselves for a variety of reasons: to review (like athletes analyzing game film), to promote best practices among faculty and teaching teams, and to use with instructional coaches or administrators during employee evaluations. 

The camera could also be used to record video lessons for absent students or those who needed instructional reinforcement. For example, when a student was homebound for an extended period, VIEWpath was installed in his classroom so he could keep up academically. But VIEWpath wasn’t frequently used for this purpose since remote learning wasn’t a priority that most educators needed to think about. Yet. 

Enter COVID-19. 

Schools everywhere were shuttered and students sent home. Suddenly, this product, with 10 solid years of development under its belt, became a critical tool for remote learning. Our original VIEWpath solution has an installed 360° classroom camera. During the global pandemic, we developed a portable camera + classroom audio system called VIEWpath Blend

Incredibly high demand is proof that VIEWpath Blend is a solution that educators desperately need.

Q: When can I stop wearing a mask when I teach? 

A: We don’t have an answer, but hopefully soon! One thing is certain, though—unlike face masks that we can’t wait to ditch, the classroom camera is here to stay. 

Experts have known for a long time that cameras can provide huge benefits to educators, and now with a surge of camera use in education, we’re seeing how helpful—and even crucial—they are for students as well. Even when we can ditch our masks, we’ll definitely be keeping our classroom cameras.

Q: Since VIEWpath is one of the best cameras for teachers, why did I not find out about it sooner?  

A: Again, we have no answer for this one, but we’re glad you’re here now!

Let us help you streamline your classroom’s remote learning resources and eliminate tech drama so you can focus on what matters most—your students’ success. We’re excited to show you how our innovative classroom camera systems and simple technology can change your professional life!

Q: I’ve needed VIEWpath Blend in my classroom since March 2020! How do I schedule a free demonstration with an Audio Enhancement representative? 

A: Please discuss your interest with your principal or district leaders. Call 800-383-9362 or visit https://audioenhancement.com for more information. 

Continuing Effective Learning Through Classroom Video

Continuing Effective Learning Through Classroom Video

Educators, students, and parents across the country started the 2020–2021 school year with many questions. When will students return to the classroom? How long will they continue learning online, or will they move to a hybrid model? Two school districts in Florida, Indian River County and Osceola County, reviewed the best options to prepare for these possibilities. Both districts chose to install Audio Enhancement’s VIEWpath® Blend, making it easy for teachers to Create, Manage, and Deliver video content for remote and blended learning.

With VIEWpath Blend, teachers can:

  • CREATE with camera control options and multiple recording choices
  • • MANAGE files with unlimited portfolio storage and ability to edit and merge videos
  • • DELIVER content through downloadable videos, connection to existing Google Drive and OneDrive, and video embed options

With VIEWpath Blend, educators record using a Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) camera mounted to the BEAM, a portable all-in-one audio system, making it easy to capture lessons for student learning. Teachers then deliver those recordings to students by embedding videos directly into their current learning management system (LMS) or by downloading files for students. VIEWpath Blend enables teachers to deliver synchronous or asynchronous learning to students regardless of their location while removing the barrier of internet access.

  • • Download to a USB or embed files to existing LMS
  • • Live stream video through platforms like Google Hangouts, YouTube Live, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom

Indian River County School District is led by Dr. David Moore, Superintendent

Osceola County School District is led by Dr. Debra Pace, Superintendent

Department Spotlight—Tech Support

customer support agent

Department Spotlight—Tech Support

Tech support can feel like a thankless job—people call when they have a problem, and you don’t often hear about all of the things that are going right. It’s critical work, though. We need people to help us troubleshoot when our tech isn’t doing what we’d like it to.

We found an opportunity to chat with members of our tech support team to gain some insight into their roles and the experience they bring with them to the department.

A variety of experience

Our tech support team has an array of technical experience gained from work and personal interests. They’ve worked with telecommunications and geospatial information systems, computer software, commercial audio, and have years of experience and product training with Audio Enhancement products. Their understanding of the front end of technology and supporting/managing systems on the back end give them a solid background to guide our customers to the most effective use of their equipment.

What do their jobs entail?

Tech Support team members spend their days at Audio Enhancement helping customers get their equipment and solutions set up and working efficiently. If something isn’t functioning as expected, the team is ready to help customers fine-tune their systems and ensure they’re running smoothly, enabling educators to focus on their schools and students and not worry about technology.

What does a typical day look like in Tech Support? Team members start by reviewing any tickets that came in during off hours and reaching out to help troubleshoot the situation. When new calls or emails come in, they work together to manage new requests. With products that include hardware and software, the support needs are varied. Each team member draws on their experience and product training to walk customers through any troubleshooting that needs to happen to ensure their solutions are working optimally.

A temporary shift

Tech support jobs don’t generally involve much travel, but our support team expanded their roles during the COVID-19 pandemic. With schools closed, many educators weren’t in their classrooms using the products and weren’t needing much support, so the team added to their role by helping with system installs. Their in-depth understanding of the solutions and equipment enabled them to jump in and help install products in empty schools. They demonstrated a much-appreciated team spirit during that time.  

Now that they’re back to their usual roles as full-time tech support, the team is enjoying their favorite things about the job—interacting with customers and helping them solve problems. They like the challenge of approaching different situations every day to find optimal solutions.

A message for our customers

We asked our support team if there was anything they’d like to share with our customers. First of all, they said our customers are awesome and they love working with them. They also encouraged our customers to call in whenever possible. As nice and easy as email can be, interacting live with customers is often the fastest way to find answers and come to the best solution.

We’re grateful for the hard work and dedication of our Tech Support team. You can reach them during our business hours at 800.932.3578. They’re ready to help when our customers need it, and they go the extra mile to make sure schools have efficiently working systems every day.

VIEWpath®—A Simple Solution for Remote and Blended Learning

VIEWpath®—A Simple Solution for Remote and Blended Learning

As we’ve recently seen, schooling is not always isolated to the classroom. When students are participating in remote learning due to blended learning models, schools closing, teachers on leave, or student absences, how do we maintain effective learning? VIEWpath® (Video Interactive Education Window) enhances remote and blended learning by making it easy to Create, Manage, and Deliver video content to students outside the classroom.

How do we keep students learning outside the classroom?

VIEWpath is an intuitive platform designed to help teachers heighten instruction through personal video. Combined with cameras, this solution helps teachers create video content for students, easily manage files by creating collections with searchable metadata, and deliver content through video recordings and live-streamed lessons.

4 Easy Ways to Create!

VIEWpath’s multiple recording options make it easy to create video content. Video can be captured directly from the mobile app, with an installed EduCam360, a mobile EduCamPTZ, or with a web cam.

Multiple Delivery Options

VIEWpath provides multiple ways to share digital content. Users can download video files or use embed codes to add recordings to a preferred LMS. VIEWpath can also be shared live, streamed through platforms like Google Hangouts, YouTube Live, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom—perfect when students are learning inside and outside the classroom.

Whether it’s due to schools closing, teacher leave, or student absences, learning doesn’t always happen in a traditional classroom setting. VIEWpath offers a streamlined way for educators to create, manage, and deliver content to students, helping them learn anytime and from anywhere.

Teacher Masks and the Need for Audio Enhancement

Teacher Masks and the Need for Audio Enhancement

These are unusual times. As students and teachers return to schools, wearing masks may become the next normal. Ensuring every student receives proper volume and clarity of instruction and can understand what is being taught can already be a challenge with the normal background noise of a classroom environment. With teachers needing to speak from behind a mask, classroom audio solutions become an essential tool in student education.

How does wearing a mask affect classroom communication?

We conducted research to understand how wearing a mask would affect communication in the classroom. The study was conducted with a video camera and type 1 real time analyzer/sound level meter positioned 25 feet from the speaker to capture what a student sitting furthest from the teacher would hear. The results show there is a significant difference in the quality of the teacher’s voice when he or she wears a mask.  From a student listener’s perspective, masks interfere with the teacher’s ability to communicate effectively.

The figures below represent the same sentence spoken by a teacher. Figure 1 shows the sentence spoken with no mask or microphone. Figure 2 shows the sentence spoken through a mask, still with no microphone. Figure 3 represents the sentence spoken through a mask while using a Teacher Microphone. The colors within each data block represent the levels measured at 1/3 octave frequency bands—green illustrates normal conversational level; yellow represents a quieter speech level at risk of being lost in background noise; and blue shows audio that is mostly lost in background noise.

This research demonstrates that using a microphone has a substantial impact on the clarity of teacher communication from a student listener’s perspective. Without sound enhancement, much of what a teacher says may get lost in the normal background noise of a classroom. This indicates that Classroom Audio greatly reinforces a student’s ability to clearly understand what is being taught.

5 Strategies for Leading Through a Crisis

A crisis has been defined as a “low probability, high consequence event that threatens the most fundamental goals of an organization.” It could be a natural disaster, act of violence, criminal act, an epidemic, or even a pandemic. Crises have happened throughout time, some on a small scale, affecting just one school or company; others on a large scale, affecting entire states, countries, or even the world. Leading during a crisis presents a unique set of obstacles and can prove challenging for even the best leaders. Below are some strategies that have served others well when leading their organizations through one or more crises.  

Communication

Leaders always need to communicate well, but during a crisis communication becomes even more critical. Members of an organization rely on clear and open information from their leaders—they want to understand what is going on, how it’s being handled, and what they might reasonably expect. The same is true of community members. When dealing with the COVID-19 crisis in her district, Samantha Fuhrey, Superintendent of Newton County Schools, GA, said, “…because this is such a huge issue for communities, you have to be even more judicious about the things you say, how you say them, and the level of transparency you provide to your community.”  

“…because this is such a huge issue for communities, you have to be even more judicious about the things you say, how you say them, and the level of transparency you provide to your community.”

Samantha Fuhrey, Superintendent, Newton County Schools, GA

When a crisis forces schools to close for a period of time, It’s important to give some additional focus to connect with students. Some students receive the majority of their support and structure from school—losing that can be a significant struggle. “We know some of our students, the only structure they have is at school and the safest place they have is school,” said A. Katrise Perera, Superintendent of Gresham-Barlow School District, OR. Specifically reaching out by phone to individual students to check in with them can be a key to helping them stay on track and feel supported.  

Self-Care and Wellness

“You cannot serve from an empty vessel,” is oft-quoted wisdom from Eleanor Brown. It holds true in a time of crisis just as much as any other time. It can be even more difficult for leaders to take time for themselves when others are struggling, but it’s critical. Planning time to maintain physical, mental, and emotional health can cultivate strength and energy to continue leading through the entirety of a crisis and after it’s resolved.  

Deliberate Calm

Leaders can set the mood for their organization through choosing to remain calm during a crisis. Nobody wants to see insincere positivity, but a sense of calm is appreciated and helps everyone to feel like they can manage their way through things. Fuhrey received feedback during the COVID-19 crisis from one of her staff, “It helps us so much, in the moment of crisis when we all feel like the world is falling apart, we hear your voice and you are so calm.”  

A strategy that can help with this is following the 80-20 rule—instead of spending 80 percent of their time and energy dwelling on the problem, leaders can choose to focus 80 percent on the solution and 20 percent on the problem. “When you turn it around, you’ll likely find you’re less stressed and more productive,” advises Lolly Daskal, national bestselling author of The Leadership Gap

Growth Mindset

Times of crisis present a perfect opportunity to practice a growth mindset. Leaders should avoid worrying about doing things perfectly. They can focus instead on taking what comes and working through it, always reviewing what’s been done and how well it worked. Jason Glass, Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools, CO spoke of their experience during the COVID-19 crisis, “We are in this cycle of implement, reflect, adapt, and repeat…”  

“We are in this cycle of implement, reflect, adapt, and repeat…”

Jason Glass, Superintedent, Jefferson County Schools, CO
Delegate

It can be easy for leaders to feel like they need to be at the center of everything and try to manage all facets of the situation, but different members of an organization have different areas of expertise. Sharing the load with others can ease stress and help things run smoothly. Hugo Bague, an executive at Rio Tinto during the Ebola crisis in 2015–16, experienced the value of seeking input from local teams who possessed a clearer view of the situation in their area. Giving local leaders autonomy helped them make the best decision in each circumstance.  

Nobody wants to lead through a crisis, but being ready to tackle the challenges that come with one is important for any leader. Staying focused on strategies that help an organization continue working together as a team, moving forward, and adapting as needed can help everyone work through tough circumstances in the best possible way.  

Do you have any additional strategies or tips that have helped you in a crisis? 

An ELL Student’s Experience with Classroom Audio

An ELL Student’s Experience with Classroom Audio

Classroom Audio Systems have obvious benefits for students with a hearing impairment, but there are benefits for many other student groups as well. From students with ADHD to specific learning disabilities, from English language learners to typical students, classroom audio promotes learning for all students, in every classroom.

We recently talked with Jimy Erekson, one of our sales representatives, about his experience growing up as an ELL student. He offers valuable insights and a unique perspective into the experience and challenges present when a student is learning a second language and new content at the same time.

An Active ELL Student

Jimy Erekson was an active student. He was adopted when he was five and spoke only Spanish. When he began attending an English-speaking school, Jimy didn’t understand what was being said. He found it easy to get distracted and focus on other things that he could understand. Jimy’s teachers worked with him as well as they could, but it was hard to keep a student engaged with a language he didn’t understand.

Jimy sometimes had an interpreter that would help him in class, giving Jimy an opportunity to learn the content in his native language. This helped, but sometimes even the interpreter couldn’t hear and understand what the teacher was saying. When the teacher spoke quickly, was far away, or was facing the board, Jimy’s interpreter did their best to quickly figure out what the teacher said, translate it, and move on before missing anything else. The challenge was considerable.

Learning to speak, write, and understand a second language created an extra challenge for Jimy. He couldn’t only focus on the content but had to give extra attention to learning the words as well. He remembers watching friends excel and learn quickly. He felt the disadvantage he was fighting through and could see himself falling behind his friends’ learning. He had to work harder to catch up. It was hard to feel like he couldn’t keep up with the other students in his classes.

The year things started to change

School continued to be a struggle and discouraging until Jimy’s fourth grade year when Jimy’s teacher wore a microphone. Suddenly, he was able to hear clearly. He could tell the difference between words like “tree” and “three” that had previously sounded the same. He could hear what his teacher said, even when their back was turned so they could write on the board. Jimy’s interpreter was able to decipher what the teacher was saying and confidently interpret for Jimy.

Jimy’s ability to take the English he heard and connect it to the Spanish he confidently spoke grew that year. He began to build confidence as a student and feel he could overcome the disadvantage he’d experienced. This was the year he started picking up more content and became more engaged and less distracted at school.

An unexpected bonus came during the story times that Jimy’s fourth grade teacher enjoyed holding. During story time, students had the opportunity to use a handheld microphone to read aloud. Jimy previously avoided speaking in front of the class because he felt self-conscious about his broken English. When he heard other students working hard to decipher and decode the words, he realized he wasn’t the only one who didn’t have a perfect knowledge. He learned it was okay to make a mistake with a word and be corrected. This helped Jimy have courage to speak more English, and when he spoke more, his learning accelerated.

When Jimy grew up and started his own family, he took a job selling Classroom Audio Systems for Audio Enhancement because he knew for himself the difference it could make for students. He had experienced the enhanced learning environment an audio system can create, and he wanted to help other students receive the same benefits he found when he was in school.

Jimy enjoys working in areas that have a significant number of English language learners. His background offers a unique perspective that can help school leaders understand what their ELL students are experiencing. Jimy is able to advocate for these students and help school districts understand the long-term benefits and growth ELL students gain when given the opportunity to hear clearly what their teacher is saying, year after year.

Restorative Justice in Schools

Restorative Justice in Schools

Many discussions in education revolve around behavior management and discipline. Different people subscribe to different philosophies, but one that is receiving a lot of attention is restorative justice or restorative practices. What is restorative justice? What are the advantages and disadvantages of implementing it in a school? Here’s what we found.

What is Restorative Justice?

According to We Are Teachers, “Restorative justice is a theory of justice that focuses on mediation and agreement rather than punishment.” The focus is on helping students learn to work through conflicts, coming to a solution that serves everyone well. “It aims to help students understand how their actions have harmed other people and give students a chance to right their wrongs,” is another explanation from Stephanie Wang at Chalkbeat.

Schools that practice restorative justice take a proactive approach—building relationships and developing a sense of community before incidents happen. Students are given opportunities to talk to one another, discussing goals, dreams, and fears so they get to know each other, understand one another, and build respect.

When an incident occurs, the offending student is given an opportunity to repair the harm they caused. They meet with those they hurt, along with a mediator, and discuss how they can make things right. All involved talk about what happened, why it happened, and the harm it caused. They then come up with a plan for righting the wrong.

Benefits of Restorative Justice

Implementing restorative practices promises many benefits. With the focus on building relationships and developing a sense of community, schools often establish a more positive climate. Students come to know and understand each other and learn to be more considerate of one another. Trinity, a fifth grader at a school practicing restorative justice in Denver, said, “When you go to school here, you get to know each other. At my old school, we never got to know each other—or to understand each other.”

Teachers and students develop a greater sense of mutual respect. A study shared by Hechinger Report found that students felt they had a better relationship with teachers who fully embraced restorative practices. “And the strong relationship in turn linked to a great sense of respect between teacher and student.”

Discipline issues may take away less from instructional time. Some teachers implementing restorative practices feel they spend less time disciplining and more time teaching. The focus on keeping students in school and avoiding suspension when possible can also help keep students in class, giving them greater opportunities to learn.

Restorative Justice Roadblocks

Restorative justice isn’t just an easy fix, though. Adopting the practice is not just a matter of flipping a switch. It takes time, effort, and buy-in from everyone involved—teachers, students, and even parents. If students aren’t willing to participate in the necessary conversations, the process will be halted. If teachers don’t see the value in shifting the way things are done, they will struggle to find the motivation to take on another new program and change current disciplinary practices.

Implementing restorative practices requires a shift in mindset. “Restorative justice can’t just be a set of things we do. It has to be a framework for how we view teaching and learning,” said Kathy Evans, associate professor of education at Eastern Mennonite University, as quoted in an article from Hechinger Report.

Research on the impact of restorative justice is sparse and not conclusive. The practice has been around in other settings for hundreds of years, but it is unclear how real and deep the benefits are in an education setting.

Have you implemented restorative justice in your school or classroom? What has your experience been?