Acoustics is part of the conversation – when transitioning to innovative learning environments

The extensive Transitions18 research Symposia series in Australia, USA & Europe.

For the second year running the University of Melbourne and  the ILETC project organised a series of three Transitions18 research symposia around learning spaces in Melbourne, Phoenix co hosted by Steelcase and Copenhagen co hosted by Ecophon.

Attending the Copenhagen event, there was a wealth of groundbreaking research studies and discussions about the transition of learning spaces over two fully packed days.

Transitions18 European venue – UCC Carlsberg Campus, Copenhagen.

During the two days there were research projects presentations were from over 10 countries giving a diverse mix of approaches and fueling so much interest and discussions during the breaks.

Acoustics came up time and time again….

Our regular Acoustic Bulletin readers might be quite surprised to know that from the outset in the opening keynote by Julia Aitkin and then throughout many sessions, acoustics was highlighted as being a core aspect in creating successful and sustainable learning spaces. Acoustics was noted as especially important for supporting the transformation of school buildings, from a management and teaching aspect, to supporting positive behaviours and attitudes in the students and their use of spaces.

Of course there are many aspects and Julia Aitken highlighted the school as a complex ecosystem.

Presentations focusing on acoustic aspects

Professor Emeritus Bridget Shield presented about the long known research highlighting the importance of creating a good acoustic environment. She gave concrete insights into challenges and detrimental effects for teachers and students, showing where the acoustics are not working unnecessary noise has a negative impact on the learning outcomes.

Noise affects; Memory, verbal & non-verbal tasks, attention, (letter, number & word recognition) and reading.

For more on Bridget’s Transitions18 presentation click here.

Viveka Årlander Lyberg Associate Professor at Lund University presented Suvi Karjulainen’s PhD study around “Better communication and learning in the classroom”. This study not only addresses the importance of the quality of the teachers’ voice and protecting it from long term damage but also from a students’ perspective, the quality of their listening experience.

Viveka presented the PhD research by Suvi Karjulainen which she is supervising.

For more on Viveka’s Transitions18 presentation click here.

Applied teacher training lab toured during lunch breaks

During the lunch breaks, there were tours of the Future Classroom Lab, showing the unique and outstanding Danish investment in the future for applied and integrated teacher training.

Nick Holmberg Trainee teacher at the led the tours durning the lunch breaks.

More about the fantastic local here and the background to the FCL European project based in Brussels here.

New school user survey tool presented

The new OECD School User Survey was presented by OECD consultants Alastair Blyth and Julie Velissaratou. This new tool is designed to support schools through transitional change and beyond as a valuable post occupancy evaluation tool.

Amongst the Comfort factors including lighting, thermal, air quality there are 5 Acoustics questions.

Read more about the 5 acoustic questions and the the overall School User Survey here.

Transformation or Transition???

An interesting discussion thread throughout the two days was whether schools need to go through a transformation  or transition process….

This perhaps sounds like a very subtle difference, however Transformation suggests a beginning and end, whereas a Transition suggests more of an ongoing evolution which to be truly sustainable, continual fine tuning may be required in the quest to improve and maintain some kind of harmony.

It was also clear that school, themselves are complex ecosystems which in addition to focusing on teaching and learning activities and their given spaces, there are another overarching aspects. In order to maintain a successful and ongoing transition; culture and leadership are fundamental in setting the appropriate management and behaviour appropriate to support effective learning in the given spaces. Brings us back to, and reminds us of the role acoustics can play in this…..

Here is more info about the Copenhagen event including the full Programme and subsequent presentation slides


Education 176

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