Learning Everywhere

I am currently involved in high school peer tutoring groups which gives me great fulfillment. For those of us in this adjunct to education, we know we are helping change lives of students who are having individual difficulties. The customization of tutoring is what makes it work in the great majority of cases. If it is done in a haphazard and general manner, it may not work as planned. I spend time speaking with others in the field and devising new and effective strategies. For the committed few, we may mean the difference between going to college or having to stall one’s chosen career.

Today I want to talk about something my students are considering: the use of Bluetooth or wired speakers to listen to TED talks, podcasts, and/or audiobooks. They want to access them when they are not at school or home. I always tell them that learning can take place most anywhere and they have taken my words to heart. To show my approval, I researched a bit about the pros and cons of both here. Bluetooth is a wireless system and an excellent choice for most in terms of convenience and practicality. If it is compatible with your various devices, then go for it. It is all about how a wireless speaker communicates with a laptop or tablet for example. If you don’t find compatibility, you will have to use Wi-Fi or a wired speaker. I doubt if it won’t work because Bluetooth was designed to be universal. You simply have to know how to enable the feature on your device.

The only real con I can see with Bluetooth is that the transmissions have a limited range of maybe fifteen feet which might not be enough for the best Outdoor Light and Sound experience. You might have to limit where you use it. It would not cover an entire house. You also must know the hardware and the kind of chips utilized as some are more or less sensitive to interference (which could come from microwaves, cordless phones, baby monitors and the like). There are various versions in any case so you need one that supports the transmission of stereo music if that is your goal. Some types permit streaming of stereo audio and some do not. The quality of the audio sound may or may not be to your standards (called audiophile status). There is a need for data compression in many cases to reduce the bit rate of the audio signal.

I am getting rather technical and hope I have not lost many readers. I just wanted to make a point about digital material used in studying and for entertainment. While Bluetooth is easy to use, you may go for old-fashioned wiring or at least Wi-Fi because of the limited range and restricted sound quality. Other than this basic issue, try out different options and see what serves your needs. I am all for using the vast resources available online and encourage students to learn to research well.