When you go to a concert, a movie or most professional conferences the sponsors always provide a sound system capable of projecting the sound throughout the space so that you can hear clearly. Why do we not do that for students in a classroom? Most classrooms are rectangular in shape, have tile floors, flat walls with little soundproofing and ceiling tiles that are not acoustic. Then there are the internal sounds like the fans of computers, projectors, air conditioning, and chatting students. Externally we often have sounds from other classrooms, lawn mowers, cars, airplanes and loud people. This is about the worst possible scenario for making sure everyone in the class hears equally.
One solution is for the teacher to just raise his/her voice to compensate for the poor acoustics and noise. But if they do this they may very well end up with a vocal health issue. Another solution is to improve the acoustics and soundproofing in the classroom. This is an excellent solution but can be extremely expensive.
Another solution is a voice reinforcement system that consists of a high quality wireless speaker and wireless microphone. The speaker should be omnidirectional and high quality. The microphone should be small, lightweight and also high quality. The entire system should be extremely easy to use, easy to install and, if possible, optionally portable. No teacher has time to learn a new system just for voice reinforcement.
Most importantly though is the quality of the sound and the Engagement Factor. Does the voice and audio sound reinforcement system help with student engagement? When the teacher’s voice sounds as though it is all around the student’s head it is much more likely that the student will be engaged. No one learns anything unless they are engaged.
A normal speaker placed in the front, back or side of a classroom cannot create this effect. Even a stereo speaker system cannot accomplish this. A Bluetooth™ speaker from a consumer electronics shop is not going to provide the type of soundfield required for the Engagement Factor and connecting a microphone to such a system is problematic. Even a Karaoke machine is not going to provide the type of soundfield required.
Only a surround sound or omni-directional speaker system can provide this sort of soundfield. A surround sound system is extremely expensive and not practical for normal classrooms. There are omni-directional speakers that are quite affordable and accessible.
There is now more research into this area being conducted. As I find more of this research I will post more information.