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Radius Audio Learning System

By Charles G. Doe - Posted Jul 1, 2007
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Overall Rating:4 Stars
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company: Learning Resources, Inc., 380 N. Fairway Drive, Vernon Hills, IL 60061. Phone: (800) 333-8281; Internet: or  

Price: The Radius Audio Learning System is priced at $229.95. The Radius CD/Digital Card Sets are priced at $39.95 to $69.95. Currently, 21 card sets are available. The card sets are required and are not included with the electronic unit.

Headphones with microphones are priced at $36.95. A set of two-channel speakers costs $26.95.

Audience: Elementary students, 5–10 years of age, depending on the selected card sets.

Format: The Radius Audio Learning System includes a digital unit that plays CD-ROMs (including music CDs) and also reads digital activity cards to process information and student responses. The unit can record and play back up to 2 minutes of quality digital sound; it can be used with speakers or headphones (purchased separately).

Minimum System Requirements: The learning system unit is ready to go out of the box. An electric power cord is included; the unit can be used with four C batteries (not included). Speakers or headphones are not necessary, but I would recommend headphones when using the unit with a small group in a class with other students.

Description: The Radius Audio Learning System is a portable, interactive learning aid that can be used with individuals, in centers, or in small groups. Card sets are selected to determine the topic of study. The unit evaluates student responses made by pressing one of four buttons. Learning is reinforced with feedback. Self-evaluation is made possible by the record and playback features, by the unit’s audio reinforcement, or by visual reinforcement on the view screen.

Warranty: The Radius Audio Learning System has a limited 1-year warranty against manufacturer defects.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation/Access: The Radius Audio Learning System is easy to install and use. All that really needs to be done is to plug in the AC power adapter or to insert four C batteries. A CD-ROM is placed in the unit and a digital card is placed in the reader. Installation Rating: A

Content/Features: The Radius Audio Learning System is an almost-ideal electronic device for center-based activities and independent or small-group learning in vocabulary and reading topics and for language learning for ELL/ESL students. Lightweight and sturdy, the unit is easy to use and intuitive in operation.

The device is about the size of a notebook. It is nearly 6 inches high at the back where the card is held, tapering to about 3 inches in the front where the buttons and view screen are located. The unit is made of gray plastic with a red top. A nice reinforced fabric case for storage and transport is included.

Students or teachers insert the CD-ROM that comes with the selected card set, scan an activity card, and listen and press color-coded buttons to respond to questions and to take part in interactive activities. The device’s capacity for recording and replaying student responses for self-evaluation is a useful feature.

The card sets are made of high-quality material with well-designed activities. Each set consists of 40 double-sided cards and one or two CD-ROMs. Each includes a quick-start card and teacher notes.

Reading strategy kits are available for grades 3–5. Phonics and reading kits are available for Pre-K to third grade. Topics include short vowels, long vowels, rhyming word families, blends and digraphs, and building reading fluency and comprehension.

The ELL/ESL topics include picture vocabulary and vocabulary and language patterns, conversations, and math or science concepts. Older English-language learners might benefit from kits with a Spanish-language audio-support feature.

The Alphabet Awareness set for Pre-K and up, for example, includes letter identification, letter-sound relationships, letters in initial and final positions of picture words, matching uppercase and lowercase letters, and writing letters of the alphabet. Teachers will need to spend a little bit of time with students to help them become comfortable using the Record and Play buttons.

Side A of cards two through 27 contains “open-ended” activities, which means that specific activities can be chosen for practice. Students may be assigned only the writing activity for each card, for example. These cards can be used to differentiate instruction by providing students with specific cards for the skills they need to practice. Generally, the cards can be used and repeated in any order.

The Language Patterns & Vocabulary card set includes two CDs and is aimed at ELL/ESL students. The cards feature vocabulary involved with activities and places at school, time, the senses, daily activities, the body, the head, feelings and emotions, and people in a community. Users can get audio help in English or in Spanish by pressing a red button during any activity.

An activity card, 11A in the Language Patterns set, explores time. On the front of the card, two illustrations of a time appear, using a traditional analog clock and a digital clock. Students can speak and press a green button to record their speech, press a yellow button to read, press a purple button to write, or press a red button for help. On the back of the card, three times appear, each with its own colored button. Students can select a button in response to questions from the machine’s audio.

The different card sets offer a wide variety of activities following this basic formula.

All of the cards feature quality illustrations and clear sound. The illustrations are simple, straightforward, and in color. They remind me of the drawings used in elementary phonics texts years ago. The illustrations are clearly elementary in nature and may be the only problem in using these materials with older ELL/ESL language learners. Content Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: The Radius Audio Learning System is very easy to use and will involve a minimum amount of time for teachers and students to learn. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: The instructions are clear and easy to follow—on the box, in the 10-page manual, and in the brief teacher notes in the card sets. This is the kind of product designed for use without extensive support. A device with problems should be returned to the location where it was purchased. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: The Radius Audio Learning System is an outstanding product. The system would be very useful for short learning activities—individual and small group—in nearly any elementary classroom.

I recommend at least one unit with age-appropriate card sets for every classroom. The device will facilitate valuable learning and practice activities. Highly Recommended.

Reviewer: Charles Doe, Media Specialist, Hastings Area Schools, Hastings, MI 49058.

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