What is the best microphone for a university lecture hall?

Studies performed by the education industry have shown that providing a classroom amplification system results in higher retention values, which in turn results in higher test scores for their students. The theory is that if a student doesn’t have to strain to hear the instructor, they will devote more energy toward paying attention to the topic at hand. For years, this knowledge has been focused on the K-12 classrooms, but it is every bit as applicable to the university lecture hall application. 

So, what is the best microphone to use for a university lecture hall? We contend it is a conference microphone, for the following reasons: 

Let’s start with the concept of “classroom amplification”. If you’re using a standard generic microphone in the lecture hall, chances are that you are amplifying the voice of the instructor through a ceiling mounted loudspeaker system and may only be amplifying the voice of the instructor, not the students.

  • Using a conference microphone system allows you to provide a microphone unit for the instructor and the students, thus assuring that everyone can be heard clearly and intelligibly within the lecture hall.  
  • An additional benefit of providing microphone units to the students is that you create “secondary learning” by allowing questions from fellow students to be clearly heard as well as the correct answer from the instructor being broadcast to all. So students that didn’t ask the question will get the benefit of hearing the question and the correct answer even though they didn’t ask it.
  • A conference microphone system allows you to provide a microphone per student or one for every two students and can flex into socially distanced seating if needed. 

Ceiling mounted loudspeakers, if used without other means of amplification and if not properly adjusted, can play a part in causing unwanted feedback from your audio system and disruption in the classroom. The result is usually that the sensitivity of the microphones gets reduced to avoid the feedback issue leaving the system’s performance anaemic. 

  • So, how does a conference system resolve this problem? First of all, a conference microphone is usually available with an onboard loudspeaker that mutes when the corresponding microphone is activated, thus eliminating any worries about feedback. 
  • Secondly, it provides a personal sound field for each student, allowing them to clearly hear the voice of the instructor and their fellow students. Optimum performance comes when you balance the room with the onboard speakers first, and then mix in the overhead speakers as needed. 

Let’s now add in the ability for an instructor to measure the retention level of the class at any time.  

  • Each conference microphone can be available with “voting buttons” that allow a student to respond to a quick poll about the topic. The instructor doesn’t want to know how each individual student responded, just what percentage of the class is “getting it” and what percentage is not. In this way, overall class retention can be measured quickly and easily while assisting the instructor on whether or not to move on to the next topic. 

Want to automate your PTZ cameras to automatically pick up the student speaking and facilitate distance learning? 

  • You guessed it – conference microphone systems make this facilitation easy and accurate. Beyond the distance learning application, these systems can be easily tied into cloud-based meeting platforms (Zoom, Teams, etc.) for another social distancing solution. 

Want to improve accessibility in your classroom? 

How about the ability to combine and separate classrooms on an as needed basis? 

  • Conference microphone systems can be outfitted with the ability to combine/separate divisible classrooms or can connect classrooms that are across campus from each other. So a classroom in the business school and a classroom in the law school could be combined, controlled by one instructor, and have the retention polling complied into one result. 
  • And going back to the subject of social distancing solutions, you can have students in every other seat with two classrooms combined to act as one. 

Plain and simple – conference microphone systems provide a wide variety of solutions for university lecture halls that provide useful flexibility and greatly improve the overall experience of the student and the instructor.  

In need of information or assistance?

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