Webinar: Designing innovative and inclusive learning spaces

When: Thursday, 1 September 2022 at 11:00 CEST
Where: Online, registration is open

  • Douglas MacCutcheon, PhD - Saint-Gobain Ecophon Central; University of Pretoria: “Introduction: Global effects of classroom noise”;
  • Prof. Arianna Astolfi - Politecnico di Torino: “Innovative new school acoustic standard in Italy improves speech clarity in classrooms”;
  • Mikolaj Jarosz - Saint-Gobain Ecophon Poland: “Improving the sound environment in Primary School 340”;
  • Harshal Kolwankar - Saint-Gobain Ecophon India: “Traditional classroom learning and infrastructure, and multi-purpose halls”;
  • Pauli Pallaskorpi - Saint-Gobain Ecophon Finland: “Open plan schools and wooden schools in Finland”;

Within the educational community across Europe, there is a general consensus that preparing children to be successful individuals in the society and economy of the future requires a transition from teacher-centered to student-centered classrooms. In other words, in the classroom, students need to be active participants, not just passive recipients. Like any major shift, this one too, comes with challenges – one of them being to ensure that, as students become more active, noise in the classroom does not hinder the educational process or threaten the health of students and teachers.

The way learning spaces are designed now, they create two effects – reverberation and the Lombard effect. Reverberation refers to human speech bouncing off walls in a way that amplifies the noise level and makes voices louder than they otherwise would be. The Lombard effect refers to people’s tendency to raise their voices higher and higher in noisy environments thus unconsciously contributing to an ever-growing cacophony.

The result is noise pollution which impacts students and teachers in three ways. The most obvious one is that it causes health problems such as migraines, stress and mental burn-out. Once, these issues were limited to adults but now children as young as 7 report having headaches from all the noise around them.

Second, high noise levels in the classroom cause a slowdown in cognitive development. Studies have shown that students at schools situated near a highway or a transportation hub fall behind their peers from quiet-neighborhood schools by almost a full school year.

And finally, noise and stress in the classroom have a negative impact on human relationships. The need to out-scream everyone to be heard prevents children from learning how to be effective communicators, how to participate in debates and how to contribute to collaborative projects. All of these are key skills for the 21st century.

These three points highlight the need to consider the role of sound when designing, developing or adjusting learning environments that aim to promote innovation and inclusion for all learners. Over the years, research on school environments and learning has produced important evidence on the need for education stakeholders to take the effects of sound on students and teachers into serious consideration as it can have significant impact on their wellbeing and progress.

The new webinar organised by the Future Classroom Lab (FCL) in collaboration with Saint-Gobain Ecophon looks into how educational systems and stakeholders can ensure innovative learning environments are quiet and inclusive. The webinar is organised in the context of the FCL’s 10 years anniversary and provides perspectives from five OECD member and partner countries on some of the latest findings related to sound in schools as well as a number of innovations in school design and public policy. 

Register today!

Download the presentations: