Schools are working to stay up-to-date on technology, both to prepare students for the real world and to meet state and federal education standards. For many curricula and assessments, one of the requirements is that every student have access to a computer – and each student needs school headphones.
Of course, headphones are an expense that school districts will have to grapple with and many are scrambling to find durable headphones that will protect children’s hearing. On a school or district level, budget and longevity decisions will have to be made. Will you need durable headphones that will last through testing and year-long use? Or will you need disposable headphones for testing only and with a smaller price tag? You can spend over fifty dollars a piece for a headphone with mic and lifetime cord. Or you can spend under a dollar a piece for a disposable headphone. Also, make sure to know whether your assessments will require headphones without a microphone or headsets with an integrated microphone.
With these variables in mind, here’s a brief guide to finding the best headphones for school testing.
Focus on Budget
If your school or district is motivated to reign in spending and probably won’t need a large number of headphones for future use but needs to provide headphones for testing, there are many disposable options available. Disposable headphone quality has come a long way in recent years. While you shouldn’t expect the high quality sound that comes from a high end headphone, the disposables are sure to get the job done. Some schools also prefer disposable headphones because there is no hygiene issue if the headphone will only be used by one student.
If budget (and short term use) is your top priority, look for disposable headphones. While we don’t generally recommend earbuds for student use, they can be a very economical solution for schools with tight budgets.
Look for Durability
School budgets aren’t getting any bigger, so it’s a challenge to find room for new equipment needs like headphones. That’s why you’ll want to make sure that, when you do make a large purchase, your headphones come with a manufacturer warranty and will last.
When looking for headphones for your school, make sure that the ones you purchase can stand up to the kind of wear and tear that young students are likely to subject them to. A thin band of plastic might not be enough to save them from even normal use and you’re likely better off paying a little extra up front in exchange for a longer life span. Other features to consider include ear pad stitching, thickness of the cord, steel shaft and flexibility.
Comfort is Key
Learning and testing requires focus and concentration. And testing is stressful enough without students having to constantly fiddle with their headphones. If you can find a model that’s comfortable for the students, it will help them stay focused and at ease during classroom activities and testing – which will translate to higher achievement.
Over-the-ear models usually offer the most comfortable fit and are best at blocking out noise. They’re also easier to keep clean than earbuds, making them a great choice for most school districts. Also, keep in mind that the more comfortable the headphones fit, the less likely students will be to abuse them. This could significantly increase their life span. Other features to consider include ear pad padding, leather/leatherette ear pads, adjustable fit, and lightweight material.
The Headphone Compromise
Could go either way? Inexpensive headphones like this headphone with leatherette earpads, this classroom headphone, or this headset are more durable than some of the super low cost options. These headphones may be a good middle ground in your headphone buying decision process.
Remember, beginning with the 2016-17 school year, students will need headsets with microphones to record oral responses to test questions. Some headphones feature an inline mic and some have a boom mic. Additionally, some devices function with a single jack for input and output (like an iPad) and others require separate input and output accessories (like a PC). To avoid a re-order in a year or two, it’s best to anticipate the needs of your school and order accordingly. If you are at a growing school, make sure to account for the additional numbers of headsets you will need for future students.
Look Beyond Standardized Testing
While headphones may be a requirement for Common Core and other standardized tests, it’s also becoming increasingly common for all sorts of media to enter the classroom. If you have (or are considering purchasing) laptops, tablets, or other devices, you’ll want to have headphones that allow you to get the most out of your technology. Be sure that the device and protective case that you use is compatible with your headphones. If it’s a concern, you can find headphones and earbuds with a slim, straight plug. To modify your existing or ideal headphones, you can also use a slim, straight plug adapter. Learning tools with audio can be distracting to other students, so it’s best to keep the sound contained to the one student using the technology. In addition, you may want to provide noise-canceling headphones so that the listener isn’t distracted by outside noise. Some students require special accommodations, such as text-to-speech. Having headphones available for them is a must. You will also want to consider your students hygiene. If you choose a sturdy, long-term headphone, will you provide covers or cleaning stations and disinfecting wipes?
Set Your Students Up for Success
It’s becoming increasingly clear that education must embrace technology. This includes having access to media and schools have to be equipped to handle these needs. Whether you’re trying to meet standardized test regulations or you’re bringing more technology into the classroom, you’ll need to have headphones at school.
If you’re ready to purchase a bulk order of headphones for your school district, contact us today. We’ll help you figure out which headphones best meet your needs and budget, so that your students stay ahead – without you falling behind financially.