Friday, 3 April 2009

Noise

I have a simple little ap on my iPhone which turns it into a decibel meter (it's called Decibel, unsurprisingly...).

I like to use it to explore the ambient sound in various new classrooms - they vary amazingly. Since decibels double every ten (ie 60 is twice as loud as 50) it is perhaps a surprise that a well designed room with sound baffling and a design that reflects multiple learning styles, even when it is a "home base" type space with 100 or so students in it and three teachers, can be comfortably in the mid 60s, while a similar sized space, with some of the pedagogy less well thought through (so that for example the teachers need to use microphones and their undirectional voices make it very hard to students to pause, focus and reflect), can be in the 80s, a huge difference.

These big, agile, multifaceted spaces can be very tranquil and calm places to learn. But only through good design and thoughtful attention to detail. I was in a school just recently where a huge screen; opposite a large window, offered a way for sound to bounce and reflect in a way that made it really quite unpleasant, while nearby another big three-classrooms-into-one new learning space development was tranquil and a joy to teach in.

As schools try out 21st century spaces, often in preparation for their new builds, this kind of evidence based action research really matters.

5 comments:

Hyphen31 said...

Hi Stephen, You mentioned this at the HK summit and I subsequently DL'd to my iPhone. It has been interesting to walk around Coburg Senior High School the last few days and check the decibel readings. As a school with a significant commitment to open spaces we recognise that it is not the physical space that creates the noise level but the activities and behaviors that occur within the space. You can see some of the school from the vid at http://www.apple.com/au/education/profiles/ or at www.cshs.vic.edu.au

~ Don

Hyphen31 said...

Hi Stephen, you mentioned this at the HK Summit and I subsequently DL'd it and how interesting it has been to wander around Coburg Senior High School and check the levels. As a school seriously committed to open space learning we recognise that it is not the physics of the building layout that matters it is the activities, learning approaches and learning behaviours that influence the sound levels. You gather a sense of the school via the Apple vid that was made found at http://www.apple.com/au/education/profiles/

or at www.cshs.vic.edu.au

Cheers

Don

Johnar said...

This is fantastic. Just what I need for the work I'm doing at the moment. All I need now is the iPhone to go with it!
Some seriously cool apps out there. Apple should run a competition for kids around Apps.....would be very telling indeed.

Johnar said...

his is fantastic. Just what I need for the work I'm doing at the moment. All I need now is the iPhone to go with it!
Some seriously cool apps out there. Apple should run a competition for kids around Apps.....would be very telling indeed.

Christophe said...

Hi,

A slight mistake, but that an engineer couldn't help to correct.

Decibels are in log10 base, which means that a +10 dB increase reflects a x10 signal power increase. A doubled signal power only leads to a +3 dB increase.

Cheers,

Christophe