How Sound Improves Interactive Whiteboards

Posted by John Merline

9/17/15 1:55 PM

We love interactive white boards and projectors at FrontRow — which is a good thing, since we make a living building tools to help you manage them. But as great as they are at helping you engage learners visually, IWBs and projectors are just half of the dynamic delivery duo that our lessons and presentations need for maximum learning. It's like peanut butter without the jelly. Nice, but not a sandwich. 

In most schools around the world, over half of students' learning requires listening. And we know now that it's not about visual learners vs auditory learners, but rather about chunking, reinforcing, and combining visual and auditory delivery modes that makes a difference. However, even interactive whiteboards that include a few well-intentioned speakers at the side of the screen offer little benefit in terms of auditory learning. 

The risk is that by assuming you're done with interactive presentation technology once you've installed a white board or projector or flat screen, you can actually lower student comprehension. If you're a teaching professional, you need a professional classroom sound system too.

As we've said oh...once or twice, the classroom space itself often undermines listeners' ability to understand the spoken word because of seating distance from the talker, background noise, and reverberation off hard surfaces. And listeners younger than about 14 have a particularly hard time simply because their brains aren't yet efficient at interpolating the words they miss.

A properly-selected classroom sound system improves the intelligibility of relevant audio, from a movie’s dialogue to the teacher’s voice. Effectively, it moves every student to the front row – so they can catch every word.

For whiteboard users, this is especially important, since interactive whiteboards encourage us to do more of the kinds of things that need audio reinforcement. For one thing, you're probably playing a lot more multi-media content — video clips, software packages, games — most of which have an important audio component that needs to be heard at the back of the room. You're certainly doing a lot of writing on the board...with your back to the class. Without a mic, it's hard to project to the class when you're talking away from them. And what about when you invite students up to write or present on the board? They need to be audible as well. 

And of course, a microphone used with Teacher Edition makes your lecture capture recordings MUCH more audible to students.

So next time you think 'AV,' remember that 'A' is for 'Audio!' :-)