Today's teachers face many hurdles in the classroom from keeping students engaged, interested, and encouraging participation. We call these invisible barriers to learning in the classroom. Developing tactics to overcome these barriers is something that every educator strives for. One such tactic that has been gaining popularity over the last decade has been the use of audiobooks and podcasts to reinforce the lesson plan.
For younger students, this type of media helps with decoding or word recognition, and in older students, it provides a means to practice listening comprehension of both conversational and formal speech. According to Jamie Martin, an assistive technology specialist at the New England Assistive Technology Center (NEAT), “Decoding involves learning what sounds each letter makes (phonics). Hearing words while seeing them helps her make those sound-symbol relationships.” Reading along with audiobooks has been shown to keep even easily distracted students focused. Students report that reading along with audiobooks helps to keep them from "tuning out" while listening. Plus, many students inherently recognize that they can go back and reread the parts of the book they didn't understand when they first heard it. “One of the greatest benefits of audiobooks is that they can motivate struggling readers.” Says Martin. As the common core standards push more toward nonfiction, podcasts have become more popular for educators as well. Because of the casual tone of podcasts, the contemporary topics, or both, students have the feeling of participating in a conversation rather than having adults reading or talking at them.
Teachers are finding new and innovative ways to bring outside modern media into the classroom, but huddling around a phone, tablet, or laptop is not the ideal means to deliver this content. Classroom audio systems like FrontRow’s Juno or ezRoom provide an easy solution with Bluetooth® capabilities that allow educators to wirelessly stream audio for the entire class to hear. Both the ezRoom system and Juno with Bluetooth®® further maximizes student engagement by enabling wireless audio streaming of instructional content. Bluetooth® is an important addition to FrontRow’s audio reinforcement technology because media audio is frequently part of instructional content and needs to be heard just as clearly as the teacher and student voices. These systems help to overcome poor classroom acoustics and high ambient noise levels, enveloping the entire classroom with sound so that every student, even the ones in the back of the room, can hear adequately. Bluetooth® is so ubiquitous, that most teachers already have a capable device and are familiar with its use. Pairing devices like the CMBT in FrontRow’s ezRoom or the Juno speaker is as easy and familiar as pairing with a Bluetooth® Speaker at home. Teachers can control audio levels, pause or play, even select new media through the device they are already familiar with and know how to use, their own phones. Since the connection is wireless and does not require line-of-sight to maintain the signal, teachers are able to effortlessly move throughout their learning environment.