ICT leader, Fraser Malin explains how they use sound fields at Halswell School. Sound fields enable teachers to talk to the 180 students spread across various spaces in their innovative learning environment. Teachers can talk to the whole block, or selected parts of the block, and every student gets the same message at the same volume.
As a new school four years ago, we had to really think about how the digital technology was going to work within each block. We looked at each block and we thought well okay, there’s potentially up to six teacher groups in there, which could be up to potentially 180 children. We wanted to really see how we could use ICT to really help support the staff members to make sure that the block runs as efficiently and effectively as we can.
We got some really good advice from Bruce, when our Principal Bruce Topham went to Australia. He saw some schools in action that actually had some sound fields and teacher assisted technology. So we thought that as a space, we really needed to support the staff by having microphones that they could actually talk in large areas of space and large numbers of students in one space without having to strain teacher voice.
We started to think about how could we actually break this block up into areas? So we’ve broken it up into our main hub and side rooms and then we’ve broken it into so our main pods and actually the whole block. So the teacher actually has the ability to talk, not shout, to the whole block, so that every student can actually get the same message at the same volume.
When we started to think about the learning spaces, we thought we need to incorporate the speaker systems, and we thought if we’re using the speaker systems for voice, can we use them for music? Can we tie it into using them for the projectors? We are lucky that we had two years to really get that plan underway and to really have a plan that the board of trustees and the staff, actually could agree on.
Now that we’re actually in our working space, we’ve got a system that we think has really been future-proofed, we’ve got enough space in the amp if we want to add additional microphones. We’ve got enough space that we can actually future-proof with wiring. We’ve put sufficient data points in places where we think we might need them in the future. We really had to get some good advice from the companies that we’ve used and we’re really lucky that we’ve had some really good input from the companies. I think that’s really some good advice that I could give to people as well.