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Fenton Avenue Charter School, Lakeview Terrace, California, recently installed 45 Sennheiser DirectEar SAS (Sound Amplification System) to handle the school’s simple, yet effective, SR system.
SENNHEISER HELPS ONE SCHOOL MAKE HIGH TECH AUDIO SYSTEMS
A PART OF EVERY CLASSROOM
LAKEVIEW TERRACE, CALIFORNIA: In an era when children begin using computers before they can ride a bicycle, Fenton Avenue Charter School in Lakeview Terrace, California, is a prime example of a school where the use of technology is in lock step with the ever-expanding needs of its students and teachers.
Recently, the school hired Digital Networks Group, a technology integrator from nearby Irvine, to oversee a tremendous technological upgrade encompassing virtually every classroom.
“We had done some educational systems with the school several years ago,” said Joe Perez, project manager and designer, Digital Network Group. “They were satisfied with the business we’d done before, but they wanted to do a little more. They called us in to build a very easy-to-use system that wouldn’t be hard to maintain and could function just as a turnkey.”
Initially, the school asked the team at Digital Networks Group to put together a system featuring a computer input, a VCR, a DVD player, and a second input for a document camera. The goal was to put this system in each room, so that teachers and students would first gain familiarity with the technology, and then become proficient at using it. Everyone at the school not only learned to use the technology, they embraced it. Quickly, students and teachers alike began asking, “What’s next?”
The response overwhelmed Chris Ursetta, co-owner of Digital Networks Group. “Once the teachers came in and saw the technology, they all wanted it,” Ursetta said. “It just spread like wildfire. Now it’s in 45 classrooms.”
As a result, Perez and his team have expanded the original classroom design to incorporate higher quality video screens in the classroom – including a projection system that features a 120-inch screen that lowers from the ceiling at the push of a button – and a state-of-the-art sound system. The sound system consists of the Sennheiser DirectEarSAS (Soundfield Amplification System) designed to maintain the proper balance of sound level in the classroom. DAS Factor-5W speakers are positioned in such a way that all the students can hear the teacher’s natural speaking voice, regardless of where in the room they happen to be seated. No more shouting to reach the students in back, or whispering to the students in front.
The Sennheiser system also provides an extraordinary amount of freedom for the teachers to move around the classroom without tripping over microphone wires or fiddling with distracting units. Teachers are given a lightweight and unobtrusive microphones. The standard DirectEarSAS setup includes a Sennheiser ME3 head-worn microphone, which connects to a SK 500 wireless transmitter that fits in a pocket or clips to a belt. The Sennheiser EMP 2015 receiver/amplifier accommodates up to three transmitters (for team teaching) and additional multi-media inputs.
“The Sennheiser equipment we’re using for the sound reinforcement is wonderful, and it goes together well with the visual experience,” Ursetta said. “Putting in a sound reinforcement system where the teacher can walk around with the wireless microphone means these kids aren’t going to miss anything.”
Perez concurs, noting, “Sennheiser was the only manufacturer that provided the whole package: speakers, receiving unit, transmitter and microphone. Even included was a little body pouch for the transmitter. This system was exactly what the customer needed, and it had an auxiliary input so we could take everything that we needed and program audio in as well. It’s a neat little package.”
The Sennheiser system also manages the interference between different teachers’ classroom systems by providing multiple channels and frequency change at the push of a button. This is critical for the continued growth of the school itself, and the addition of more technology among the classrooms.
The school’s investment in technology is just beginning. In fact, the faculty has already expressed an interest in videoconferencing applications as well as the completion of an expansive, on-site audio/video broadcast studio. “We’re seeing more and more of this type of expansion,” Ursetta notes. “The price has come down so drastically for these projection systems and sound reinforcement. Now it’s just a few dollars more than a 32-inch monitor with wiring to the teacher’s desk. Pretty soon, there’s going to come a time where this is in every classroom because it’s affordable and it’s really helpful.”
The Fenton Avenue Charter School proves that audio/visual technology has come a long way in just a few short years. Today, technology once reserved for the concert stage or the executive auditorium is changing the way faculty approaches teaching. And more importantly, how the students approach learning.
Established in 1945 in Wedemark, Germany, Sennheiser is the acknowledged world leader in microphone technology, RF-wireless and infrared sound transmission, headphone transducer technology, and most recently, in the development of active noise-cancellation. Sennheiser Electronic Corporation is the U.S. wholly-owned subsidiary, with headquarters in Old Lyme, Connecticut.