Ecophon is a global supplier of acoustic systems that contribute to good room acoustics and a healthy indoor environment with the focus on offices, education, health care and industrial manufacturing premises. Ecophon is part of the Saint-Gobain Group and has sales units and distributors in many countries. Ecophon efforts are guided by a vision of earning global leadership in room acoustic comfort through sound-absorbing systems, enhancing end-user performance and wellbeing. Ecophon maintains an ongoing dialogue with government agencies, working environment organizations and research institutes, and is involved in formulating national standards in the field of room acoustics where Ecophon contributes to a better working environment wherever people work and communicate.
Sound absorbing panels for better learning environments
Having sound absorbing panels, especially a full suspended ceiling, is a basic and fundamental starting point to reduce the sound level and support good speech clarity and overall communication quality. In addition, there should be wall panel absorbers to take out late reflections starting with the back wall. Several studies and have shown that with improved room acoustic conditions the students' social behaviour becomes calmer and the teachers experience lower physiological load (heart rate) as well as less fatigue.
Meeting minimum acoustic standards does not mean a sound environment will work in all teaching and learning senarios. We need to make sure that acoustics are now given an even greater standing, to go beyond minimum requirements, when it comes to investing in the educational premises and ensuring the optimum educational outcomes as these environments must be "future proofed" to provide "fit for purpose" classrooms. This will provide environments which are suitable for modern teaching and learning approaches such as group work and communication in pairs and to support the "Inclusion" of hearing impaired and other sensitive listeners.
For Inclusion, additional low frequency absorption can balance the sound environment in the unwanted and disturbing low frequencies (125Hz) and may be necessary for inclusion of children who are sensitive or vulnerable listeners. This includes a wide range of students who can be described as sensitive listeners and can include; permanent hearing impaired, temporary hearing impaired, partially sighted, autistic, ADHD, non-native language speakers or even the more introverted students. Without any additional low frequency absorption (125Hz) in the classroom there can be an imbalance in the room acoustics for speech clarity where low frequency sound can build up and interfere with the speech frequencies. This makes it harder to hear the necessary consonants which give the words their meaning and thus the information. This make understanding speech harder as the consonant sounds are overpowered or masked by the vowels and other low frequency sounds which can build up due to the lack of appropriate absorption. Addressing these issues will have a significant impact on the conditions for speech communication, not just for the inclusion of sensitive listeners but for teachers and all the students and the developing teaching and learning activities.
Links and further information
- Acoustic Bulletin - Online news service about room acoustic design. The Education section provides information on research and school building case studies with acoustic interventions.
- ECO Magazine for Sustainable Environments - The ECO magazine is full of good examples about how to solve acoustic challenges in educational environments.
- Acoustic Bulletin LinkedIn Educational Environments - Educational Environments is a subgroup of Acoustic Bulletin where the focus is on how sound affects teaching and learning indoor environments. Members are encouraged to exchange knowledge and inspiration and discuss the key issues for teaching and learning activities in educational environments.
- Study App for iPhone - This simple, free app delivers 45 minutes of scientifically designed productivity-boosting sound that can mask ambient noise, help focus, improve cognition and reduce fatigue.
- Acoustic Bulletin Youtube playlist - More than 130 films on sound and acoustic as a useful resource including a separate education sector playlist.
- Sound Education seminar films - Sound Education seminar films from four events in London, Munich, Stockholm and Copenhagen.