The newly released Catchbox Plus bridges the communication gap between in-person and online students in hybrid classrooms
Catchbox, creators of the world’s first throwable microphone, announced today the availability of the newest version of Catchbox Plus, their complete wireless microphone system. With Catchbox Plus, colleges and universities transform classroom engagement, especially for hybrid educational settings that include both face-to-face and online students in a single course.
Hybrid learning environments, which grew in popularity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, are here to stay. Allowing students to take a class both in-person and online increases access to courses but also poses student engagement challenges. Higher education leaders and instructional designers are tasked with figuring out how all students can participate in rich discussions regardless of how they attend class.
One potential solution has been ceiling-mounted microphones that are designed to pick up sound from everywhere in the room. However, they can be costly to install and can perform poorly in larger spaces with multiple speakers and sources of noise. For online students, this is disruptive because they cannot easily hear their peers.
Unlike ceiling-mounted microphones or handhelds, Catchbox Plus is a throwable DECT-based wireless microphone encased in a soft material that makes it fun and safe to pass around. It’s a cost-effective and flexible technology that changes the dynamic of classroom discussions because in-person and online students can clearly hear each other. Catchbox also brings levity to classroom discussion, coaxing even reluctant students in to the conversation.
Catchbox Plus can be easily installed via point-to-point analog and digital connections. There is also a Pro version featuring a Dante™ adapter to support audio over IP technology, which replaces physical connections with a computer network that effortlessly sends audio over Ethernet cables.
When facilitating a discussion with Catchbox Plus, the instructor wears a Clip presenter microphone and throws the Cube portable microphone to the speaker. The in-class speaker’s voice comes through loud and clear for the students online. In turn, contributions from online students come through the classroom’s speaker system, helping connect face-to-face and online students with their instructors. Students are more likely to understand and retain the curricular material. According to a study conducted by researchers at the City University of Hong Kong, adopting a throwable microphone in a large class setting enhances teacher-student and student-student interactions.
“Catchbox changes the dynamics of a typical class conversation to support student-powered dialogue,” says Dr. Tracey Birdwell, Program Director for Indiana University’s Mosaic Initiative. “Because Catchbox delivers the microphone in a colorful cube, it provides a visual signal to the entire class that the student who has caught the Catchbox has the floor. So, if you are the student with the Catchbox, the class can see it’s your turn to talk AND also hear what you have to say.”
“The release of Catchbox Plus means our throwable microphone will be available for even more schools and students across the United States,” says Mikelis Studers, Catchbox CEO and Co-founder. “At Catchbox, we recognize the value of active discussions, and our updated product makes it even easier to transform discussions, especially for hybrid courses.”