Take the Mic

Andrew JenkinsCatchbox, Education Innovation, Lesson Recording

2017-01-31 17.24.59

Using wireless microphones in class makes a lot of sense although they tend to be a bit forgotten. These are flexible devices with bags of potential especially when combined with powerful video technology and lesson recording.

Microphone technology certainly isn’t new but it has evolved over the years and teachers now have greater choices and different options they can select or mix and match.

The Lessonbox Mobile system offers three professional wireless audio options that could make the world of difference to your classroom, each offering something special and something to help capture the range of interactions and rich dialogue found in class. Our options work together to help you access the vital visual and audio data you need to inform and progress your teaching, learning and CPD.

Lapel Mike

For teachers there is a powerful mike that you can attach to your clothing. This wearable microphone option accompanies you during a lesson and will broadcast your voice in a normal tone to an impressive level of clarity and crispness for easy teaching. It will pick up what you are saying, which for teaching purposes is what you want it to do, but there might be times when you want to talk privately and have a conversation that others can’t hear – good news then because the lapel mike has a mute button.

Desk Mike

Another option that you could go for is a desk mike and this is perfect for group work at tables. This mike benefits from omnidirectional broadcasting and will pick sounds from all sides and so captures more than a lapel mike. What’s impressive about this unit is that whatever is being said will be recorded which means for question and answer sessions, all communication is grabbed providing valuable data capture that might otherwise be lost because of external interferences. All you have to do is place the desk mike in the centre of a table or between a TA and pupil and the mike will sit and record. The desk mike can also be muted.

Both the lapel mike and desk mike look similar and are about the same size (between 3 and 3.5″) but the desk mike has rubber feet so it won’t slide off the table and it can be kept in place.

Catchbox

The third option is one designed primarily for boosting pupil participation which can be a problem when children realise they are being video recorded as they might be a bit self-conscious. Catchbox will soon make them forget they are on camera.

This ingenious mike is a world first and plays into the hands of learning. This friendly cube-shaped and foam padded ‘throwable’ microphone is playful, fun and designed to help get everyone talking so inspires participation. Perfect for active learning, Catchbox has lots of uses in schools and would be ideal for assemblies and classroom discussions.

The concept is simple enough: you hold the wireless Catchbox, you ask someone a question (or someone asks a question or wants to share something), you throw, they catch (hopefully) and the dialogue begins with a few smiles thrown in for free. What could be simpler? It is a fast and fun alternative that will promote thinking because everyone has to be ready – the box could come your way and you don’t want to be caught out!

What makes Catchbox such a great product to use is that there are no visible buttons. It connects using wireless 2.4Ghz technology from within the box to an external receiver and speaker. You might be thinking that a microphone will pick up all the sounds around it especially when being thrown across a room or if someone is a bit of a butterfingers and it ends up on the floor. But there is some clever technology at work called ‘Active Automute’ which constantly senses the motion of the device and switches off the audio temporarily when the Catchbox is caught, thrown, or dropped. Unwanted noise is eliminated in transit but when stationary it can project voices through an output speaker for all to hear as clear as a bell.

Things get thrown around the classroom all the time, but not like this. As a teacher you will need a good throwing arm and a good aim but don’t worry if your shot goes off course as there will plenty of takers willing to pick it up – Catchbox is a real crowd surfer! You might be concerned that it will be disruptive – slightly perhaps but it won’t result in hysteria!

What’s the catch? There isn’t one…but several and they are all pupil catches! The clever part of Catchbox is the engagement factor and this makes what happens in class memorable. Some children can be reluctant to take part but Catchbox is catchy, contagious and fun to use so will motivate even the shyest of learners to have a go.  Children will enjoy holding the Catchbox and this in turn encourages them to speak and speak for longer. There will be lots of hands up as children will all want to have a go and so this makes sharing more likely – conversation flows. It could easily impact on retention too as Catchbox has impact and helps what is being said ‘stick’ – if they hold a Catchbox then they won’t forget in a hurry the feeling of participation, speaking and being listened to.

Time to mike up

The use of microphones in the classroom is neglected by lots of schools yet they are a powerful way to record and capture the rich conversations and interactions that happen every day. The dynamic classroom recording options offered by Lessonbox will help boost learning, encourage engagement and improve teaching efficiency especially when combined with video recording.

Lessonbox provides robust combined audio and video solutions that are proven to enhance pupil and teacher interactions and increase outcomes – using microphones sounds like something all schools should be doing.