Tampa Preparatory Adopts High-Tech Audio Systems in New Upper School

Industry News
New systems create active learning environments and foster 21st-century learning

Lightspeed Technologies, the trusted provider of classroom audio solutions, and Tampa Preparatory School are proud to announce the installation of Redcat Access systems and Flexcat audio systems in the newly opened and redesigned Tampa Prep Upper School. Tampa Prep, an independent co-educational college prep school, now has a total of 68 Redcat Access systems and two Flexcat audio systems between the middle and upper schools.

With approximately 650 students in grades 6–12, Tampa Prep has abandoned the old classroom model of stationary desks and a teacher at the front of the room, and created what it calls Active Learning Environments (ALEs). After converting all middle school classrooms to ALEs in 2015, the school continued the trend into the upper school. The new classroom model provides students with a flexible, technologically advanced atmosphere conducive to the four C’s of 21st-century learning: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication. Each classroom is equipped with a Lightspeed audio system, interactive projectors, and movable desks, so no student suffers from being in the “back of the class.”

“The integration of the Lightspeed audio systems, visual equipment, wireless networking, and educational software has been a fun and exciting process. It’s amazing to see all these moving parts and our hard work come together as we open the doors to our new upper school,” said Chad Lewis, the director of technology at Tampa Prep. “Our students can’t hide from learning in the back of the room anymore, and with these new collaborative learning tools, they don’t want to. Our flexible environment, combined with innovative technologies, gets our students out of their seats and learning in new, creative ways.”

Teachers and students use the Redcat every day and during every lesson. The system includes a wearable, wireless microphone for the teacher and a speaker that can be placed anywhere in the classroom. The combination allows teachers to move around the classroom, and saves them from voice fatigue.

“The microphones have been great for us as teachers,” said a Tampa Prep classroom teacher. “We can project our voice without having to raise our voice. Every student can hear me clearly, even if I'm facing the board.”

Tampa Prep’s foreign language teachers use the Redcats to help each student clearly hear the pronunciation of every word. They use the Flexcat systems (which consist of a wearable microphone for the teacher, a speaker for whole-group instruction, and a set of two-way audio pods that allow teachers to listen and speak to small groups) in the school’s soundproof practice spaces where teachers are able to see students working, but cannot hear them. With Flexcat, teachers can simply push a button and hear what students are saying during small-group instruction. The student, in turn, can push a button on the Flexcat pod and ask the teacher a question—all without the teacher being in the same learning space.

“One of the most important pieces of feedback we received was from a parent of one of our students,” said Lewis. “The parent said for the first time in their child's education, he could actually hear the teacher. That was when we truly realized the power of having audio systems and how they not only help hearing impaired students, but everyone.”

Teachers are not the only ones who take advantage of the Redcats and Flexcats. During presentations, students use the microphone to aid in their speaking, and some record their practice speeches to prepare for student “declamations,” which they give once a year to their fellow students.

As a result of its commitment to expanded curricular offerings and technology supporting a variety of learning styles, Tampa Prep has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished School for innovation, leadership, and educational excellence. “The effective use of technology to accelerate learning at Tampa Prep is impressive and innovative,” said David Solomon, the executive vice president and general manager of Lightspeed Technologies. “We are honored to be part of their ALE adoption and will continue to collaborate and offer support for years to come.” 

The Redcat and Flexcat are both part of the newly launched Lightspeed Access Technology System, which provides a full range of classroom audio solutions that deliver interactive audio for collaborative whole-class instruction and small-group learning. All systems connect with Flexcat pods and seamlessly work together for easy scalability.