5 Strategies to Lower Classroom Noise Pollution With and Without Technology

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According to the World Health Organization, the volume of a classroom should be less than 35 decibels for good learning conditions.World Health Organization Noise Fact Sheet (April 2010) But today’s classrooms are much noisier. The average classroom today can be as loud as 77 decibelsNovanta, G., Garavelli, S., Sampaio, A., Is the Level of Noise in a School Environment Harmful to the Hearing of Teachers Study (2020) — that’s equivalent to the sound of a vacuum cleaner!Federal Aviation Association Fundamentals of Noise and Sound (March 29, 2022)

The rise in 1:1 device policies, new instructional methods, and changing dynamics in the classroom make now a great time to evaluate how noise impacts students — and educators. Cutting noise pollution can help everyone in a classroom hear and be heard in ways that can also personalize learning. There are learning outcome advantages too. Students need instruction to be 15-20 decibels louder than background noise to support higher learning recovery rates.Novanta, G., Garavelli, S., Sampaio, A., Is the Level of Noise in a School Environment Harmful to the Hearing of Teachers Study (2020) Headsets help students focus by removing those external distractions. 

Educators looking for ways to lower noise pollution and keep students focused can try one or more of these tips, tools, and tactics.

Mute machines and devices

The technology and devices in and around learning environments in school or at home contribute to continuous background sounds. The beeps, buzzing, and whirring from these devices might seem par for the course, but they can distract students.

What to do
District and school leaders should factor in sound output when evaluating school equipment. Paying attention to noise levels as well as features that easily mute notifications and other sounds can help lower the overall classroom noise.

Provide microphones

Students need instruction amplified 15-20 decibels louder than background noise. Without that amplification, learning loss can occur.Novanta, G., Garavelli, S., Sampaio, A., Is the Level of Noise in a School Environment Harmful to the Hearing of Teachers Study (2020) A microphone can help the teacher’s voice cut through classroom noise pollution.

What to do
The Yeti Microphone provides broadcast-quality sound to give educators confidence that students can clearly understand information and instructions.

Improve acoustics

Classrooms are often built to maximize space, but that’s often done at the cost of sound. In districts or schools, administrators and school leaders can help teachers modify classrooms to reduce the impact of noise. If teachers are leading classes in a remote or hybrid style, tip sheets can be created so teachers can set up personal spaces properly.

What to do
For both in-person and remote settings, adding rugs to bare floors, hanging curtains over windows, or putting soft materials like felt or cork on walls can improve the acoustics of a room and reduce noise.

Use an app

Apps are handy for many aspects of classroom management. That’s the case for reducing classroom noises as well. Educators can choose from a variety of paid and free apps to help manage classroom noise.

What to do
There are many available apps that measure and display noise levels. The visuals in the apps range from stoplights and bouncing balls to smiley faces so educators can choose what works for their classroom best.

Hand out headsets

By reducing background noise, headsets can help students differentiate between ambient noise and educational content they need to hear. They also make audio clearer. So whether students need to hear instructions from a teacher or educational technology, headsets, especially those designed to wear for extended periods of time, can help students hear with greater ease and less frustration throughout the school day.

What to do
The soft foam padded ear pads in Logitech Zone Learn create noise isolation and keep students comfortable. Plus, the headset has adjustable side arms to fit students’ heads.

Taking just a few of these steps can make a big difference in cutting noise pollution in schools and districts, while boosting focus and stamina among students.

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