The overall goal of the Activate audio system is to help teachers authentically gain insight into what students are talking about and working on when they’re in small group settings. As anyone who has ever taught in a setting where your students are working in small groups knows, it can be nearly impossible to have your attention everywhere it needs to be to ensure beneficial learning is taking place.
When I taught high school science I was constantly trying to sit with one lab group and help them, while still keeping eyes and ears on all the other lab groups in the classroom to make sure they were doing all right. And not just doing all right classroom management wise, but doing all right with the concepts, the procedures, and not developing any misconceptions over the course of the lab. All that can be incredibly hard to keep track of in a busy classroom, and the Activate system is a really great way that technology can assist with this task.
Here’s some additional information on why setups like this can be beneficial in the classroom:
But Activate is more than a way for you to listen-in on what your students are talking about in their different groups, it also allows you to jump into their conversation whenever you need to. If you hear that a group or individual is stuck or has a question, you can talk directly to their speaker from wherever you are at, rather than shouting across the classroom and breaking everyone’s focus.
This is an excellent way to help redirect students when they might need it, to answer a quick question, or to clear up a misunderstanding a group is having. And the fact that you can do it from anywhere means you can more quickly “jump” around the room to see what each group is up to and what they’re doing.
Another beneficial feature of the Activate system is that not only can teachers hear what they’re students are talking about, but students can talk to the teacher, or the rest of the class, through their speaker as well.
This can be hugely beneficial in so many different situations. From my own experience, there were many times where I had students who were more quiet when answering questions and other students in the class just couldn’t hear them. With the Activate system, those student answers can be broadcast out to the main speaker, so that it becomes easy to hear what everyone is saying in a discussion.
Alternatively, those student responses can just be broadcast to the teacher’s earpiece, so if it’s something only the teacher needs to hear and respond to, that’s possible as well. Plus, each speaker has a call button, so students can press that if they have a question for the teacher, making it easy to see where you might need to check in.
The Activate system also includes their new Activate app which allows you to control everything from any iOS device. This makes it easy to hear what student groups are discussing, or to jump in an answer a question.
What's even better about this feature, is that it includes a video recording option that automatically synchs with the audio from the Activate system. This makes it incredibly easy to get videos of student activities and presentations, from anywhere in the room, and still have high quality audio.
Lightspeed also offers the Redcat which I was able to test out. The Redcat is basically a larger portable speaker for the entire classroom (as opposed to the individual speakers for each student group). The Redcat is an excellent product if you just need to amplify the teacher’s voice within a classroom.
As for training, the team does offer on-site professional development for schools that purchase the system at no additional charge, so they can send out a team member to help teachers begin to use the system in their classrooms.
Finally, in terms of pricing, you can contact the Lightspeed team for additional details.
Overall, I am a big fan of what the Activate systems offers. It’s easy to set up, and it provides solutions to a number of problems typically seen with small group work in the classroom. The fact that it’s a 2-way audio system makes it infinitely more valuable, especially since it allows for students to broadcast their voices throughout the classroom as well.
In the end, if you have the resources, and you have the need, the Activate audio system works incredibly well for a wide variety of purposes. Whether you’re wanting to perform more accurate formative assessments of your students during group work, or if you’re wanting to create a more participatory atmosphere in your classroom where every student’s voice can be heard, or if you’re just trying to create better connections between students and the teacher, Activate can meet those needs.
The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
I was not compensated for writing this review.