Raise your hand if you teach in a portable.
Why aren’t you raising your hand?
Oh, you can’t hear me.
WHY CAN’T YOU HEAR ME?
Oh yes, because of the deafening roar of the air conditioner, which will sooner or later be replaced by the deafening roar of the heater.
No problem. I can talk louder.
CAN YOU TALK LOUDER?
Various versions of the above conversation happen daily in my classroom. I was spoiled by having a sound system in my last school and I have been looking for a low-cost alternative ever since I moved into my portable classroom 4 years ago.
I think I may have found a solution – at least for those of you who have a couple of mobile devices you would be willing to dedicate to the cause.
Crowd Mics is a free app available on iTunes and Google Play. The concept is simple. Download the app on two different devices. One device will be the receiver, and you will need to plug a good speaker into the headphone jack. The other device will be the microphone.
Open the app connected to your speaker and create an event as a presenter. You don’t have to log in, although that is an option. Make a 3-digit password that microphone users will enter when they join your event. Choose if you want people to use the microphone whenever they want (Open Mic) or if you want to give them permission first (Select Mic).
The microphone device needs to be using the same wi-fi network as the receiver. Open Crowd Mics on the microphone device and choose the event you created and enter the 3-digit password.
Press down on the indicated area of your screen and speak.
If you have the same good fortune that shined on me, the microphone voice will be amplified so everyone in the room can hear it.
The free version of Crowd Mics will work with up to 5 “microphone” devices. If you are a frequent presenter at large conferences, you might want to look at the paid version for larger crowds.
Some caveats: this won’t work through bluetooth (the speaker must be plugged into the headphone jack) and both microphone and receiver must be on the same wi-fi network. Also, this will only sound as good as your speakers. I tried it with one of my small, portable speakers and could barely hear a thing at top volume. When I plugged the receiver iPad into my classroom speakers, however, the magic happened.
This solution is only low-cost if you have the equipment already. My plan is to have an iPad/microphone at each table so it doesn’t have to be passed around, and other apps can still be used during class. Since construction is about to start right outside my window, I hope this plan works!