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It’s all about mic coverage and simplicity for education tech expert

Dave McKean
Posted by Dave McKean on Dec 13, 2021 6:00:00 AM
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It’s all about mic coverage and simplicity for education tech expert

“Mic coverage, it’s all about mic coverage in the classroom.”

That’s how classroom tech expert Jon Castelhano expressed his number one priority in selecting audio systems for classrooms.

Another important factor for Jon, who is on the advisory board for Tech & Learning magazine and has 21 years’ experience equipping classrooms with technology, is simplicity. “Technology teams don’t have time to engineer distance learning rooms and spend hours whiteboarding how systems are going to work together. They want something that just works – that’s easy to install and manage.”
As executive director of technology for Arizona’s Gilbert Public Schools (GPS), Jon had these and other factors in mind as he considered suppliers for remote learning classrooms in the 40-school system.

And while we may often think of remote or distance learning as students connecting to a classroom from home, in this case, Jon’s challenge was to enable “campus to campus” distance learning. GPS has programs where advanced junior high or high school students can take courses from a classroom in their school that is connected by audio and video conferencing with another classroom in the system. A teacher in one school teaches both classes.

It’s an arrangement that requires excellent microphone coverage so that all students in both classes can actively participate in discussions. But Jon’s initial forays into testing audio systems for this specific need were not promising. “With everything that we tested, we wanted to be able to walk to every corner of the classroom, speak with a normal teacher’s voice and be heard. But nothing that we had tried picked up people speaking from the back of a classroom. They just didn’t hold up as far as how well the microphones worked.”

Things changed when, as part of his involvement with Tech & Learning, Jon was able to bring in a Nureva® HDL300 system on a trial basis. They set it up and were amazed at the microphone coverage – even for talkers far away from the device.

Gilbert Public Schools classroom with Nureva audio

Nureva fulfilled Jon’s mic coverage requirement, but how about his desire for simplicity? “We wanted systems that were simple to install and use, and Nureva achieved that – 100%.”

A decision was made. “At that point we decided that the Nureva product was superior to anything that we had tested, and that was going to be the choice for each of our classroom setups. Hands down, nothing compared to Nureva.” Jon and his team went ahead and equipped 17 spaces throughout the district with Nureva audio systems.

The response from users has been excellent. As Jon reports, “Teachers and students told us they could hear their counterparts clearly on the other end. That’s the best feedback that we can get from them. The remote students feel like they’re in the classroom because they can hear everything. That’s what’s most important.”

Beyond audio performance, Jon likes how his IT team benefits from standardizing across the system with Nureva audio. “Standardizing was hugely important to us. It saves time, and it cuts stress, quite honestly. Our field techs are able to easily work remotely with other team members. They complement each other.”

Gilbert Public Schools classroom with Nureva audio

The GPS IT team also increasingly uses the Nureva Console audio management platform to access and manage their devices. “We’re too large of a district to not have a way to centrally manage devices in the classrooms. Nureva Console has helped us to do that.”

Nureva also gave GPS a tool to support soft-spoken teachers. The system’s Voice Amplification Mode employs a microphone headset to amplify a teacher’s voice in the room while ensuring that everyone in the room can be heard by those who are remote. “The headset works seamlessly with the Nureva system. It’s so simple,” said Jon.

For a closer look at how GPS teachers have responded to using Nureva audio, we talked to Dave Dickerson, who teaches calculus BC (the equivalent of first-year college calculus) campus to campus. First, he talked about what’s at stake in getting the audio and video tech right: “A big part of teaching is building those relationships with the students. And if I can’t have a conversation with them and I’m not able to communicate with them, then I can’t get that big piece of what education is all about – which is why online can be so difficult.”

That’s why he’s happy to be able to use Nureva audio. “With the Nureva systems in both rooms, I can hear the students and they can hear me and each other. We can have real communication. I’d rate it 10 out of 10. It does everything I need it to do. It’s the closest thing to being in person because we can get that communication back and forth, which is ultra-important.”

Speaking of grades, Jon also rated the performance of Nureva audio: “Five stars. It’s better than anything else we’ve used. We got good value, and working with Nureva has felt like a partnership from the beginning – they have been very helpful. We are very satisfied.”


Simplify your audio

Nureva has simplified everything about audio conferencing. Installation is easy and you can do in about 30 minutes. You get true full-room coverage without the cost and hassles of multicomponent systems. And you can manage Nureva audio from anywhere.

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Topics: Audio conferencing K–12 education remote learning