Boulder Valley School District

Can you hear me? Audio technology boosts student attention and participation

Randy Barber

New voice amplification systems in classrooms are making a big difference by helping students and teachers hear each other better. 

The systems are being installed in all BVSD classrooms through the Building for Student Success program. Hand-held or lavalier microphones coupled with ceiling mounted speakers project teachers’ voices clearly throughout the learning environment at a conversational volume. 

“The audio enhancement at Emerald is AMAZING! We are using them in every classroom and learning space. One hundred percent of teachers and students are using the devices!” said Emerald Elementary principal Samara Williams.

While especially beneficial in larger, open spaces, like the new learning studios and flexible spaces of BVSD’s new schools, the difference is being heard at every school where the system is being implemented. Birch Elementary Principal Tanya Santee says her students, especially those with additional needs, appreciate the increased clarity in communication.

“[The audio enhancements} make the teacher's voice clear to all students no matter which direction, or where in the classroom the teacher is located. The Audio Enhancement has been particularly helpful for students learning English, as well as for students with any type of hearing loss,” Santee said.

While a primary focus is amplifying instruction by teachers, Williams says the microphones also foster student voice in the classroom.

“They somehow work magic on even the most shy and reluctant child and get them talking and sharing,” Williams said.

“Students love to use the microphone when they are sharing their work,” added Meadowlark third and fourth-grade teacher Sarah Mattison.  “It seems to make them feel important, and they often share more ideas than they would otherwise.”

Research has shown meaningful impact of audio enhancement on student learning as well as on student attention and classroom management. Mattison says students are better able to hear instructions and respond when transitions are happening in the classroom. Because teachers can communicate without raising their voices, classrooms remain calm and manageable. 

Teachers report less vocal strain and reduction of voice/throat related illnesses are other significant benefits of the systems.

“I absolutely love having the system in all of our spaces,” said Meadowlark K-8 first and second grade teacher Allison Trautwein. “I used to get laryngitis at least twice a year, but for the past few years of having the system in our rooms I haven't gotten it once. You can whisper and the students get the message loud and clear.”

The systems have been installed in 22 schools to date. The remainder of the schools’ systems are scheduled to be installed in step with the bond-funded renovation projects. Learn more about how the Building for Student Success program is improving learning environments across the district at


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