learnometer title

The data here is real - we have anonomised it, obviously. It was captured during our development and calibration phase of the LEARNOMETER project, in 2014. Our judgement would be that both spaces shown here have excellent teachers. However, one space is very much better for learning - not perfect, but demonstrably better.

One is a very traditional classroom, although not quite the old fashioned "graveyard layout". However, it does still have a teacher's desk and a "teacher's zone" with its single focal point interactive whiteboard (IWB). It contains, usually, just short of 30 children. It has a single door, normally closed, a wall length window, but with blinds closed because the IWB projector can't compete with direct daylight. The children are secondary age.

The other space is a modern, agile, easily configured, zoned space for around 85 children. It has fairly good sound absorbing panels - care taken to have no parallel sound relflecting surfaces, for example opposing windows. It has very good light, no blinds and the multiple screens are flat panels (rather than a projected screen) which do not need blinds drawn to be seen. There is no paper on the glass. The space is very "open". The children are primary age and comfortable with the protocols of operating in zones. Both are in economic areas that are "challenging", so these are very much real children.

light levels graph

Looking at LIGHT LEVELS (left)

we need about 250 lux as a minimum for conversation / seminars etc and 500 lux or better for close work - writing, keyboarding, etc.

You can see here the school day starting about half way across the graph. In the traditional classroom (lue line) the light is just terribly low, and uniformly poor. Hard to imagine anyone holding attention, remembering key moments, or just plain engaging for more than a few minutes in that space - even with the best of teachers. Actually, night and day are very little different here! The lights were on over night, but it didn't get any better in daytime because of the blonds and the poor projector bulb. We have seen a lot of spaces like this.

In the red lined space the light changes as the day progresses, it is, even in this winter sample, always good and reaches levels that are outdoor in quality. The changing levels are important because the help to 'mark' the temporal scale of the day so that children remember "where and when" as important markers in their learning.

Looking at SOUND LEVELS (right)

In the sound graphs (right) there are some surprises. Often teachers and others seeing these large agile multifacted spaces (and the Superclasses in them) are nervous that sound levels will be too high, distractingly so. They maybe taught, or were taught, in the hideous Open Plan spaces of the 1960 with their thermo plastic tiles floors and cement beams - terribly noisy places.

However, as you see, the blue line spikes at the start of the day when over 80 children arrive and meet / greet each other loudly ("How was your weekend?), but then settles down quickly - with a peaks and troughs, but nothing really above 60db which is very calm. There is a plenary summative s ession just before lunch, and the children again meet-and-greet after lunch but this is a calm learning space all day.

Around the mid 70s in decibels begins to be pretty intrusive for learning and you will see that in the traditional class space although the day starts in silence (a seating plan means the children don't have much to say to their eternal neighbour) the noise spikes too high too often. Indeed the school had an earlier lunch break ("children can't concentrate for a long morning" - well of course not in these conditions) and the traditional space is the noisier space, significantly so. The afternoon many teachers would recognise as a cycle of building noise, children being silenced and then repeat. The spikes are disruptive and distracting.

Seeing this data is so helpful in moving teaching forwards, but also in seeing the imprtance of organisation and systems - as ever, it all needs good reflective teachers.

sound graphed
temperature and humidity graph


The colours reverse here - sorry - this was protoyping research data! The time frame is the school day starting at 7.00. Again, a traditional space vs an agile, large modern one.

This is a really insightful analysis. We know the importance of hydration in learning (see this page on the importance of better toilets for more about that) and a relative humidity of around 40% is arguably a helpful target. But as you see in the lower pair of lines, the blue line ascending this time shows the the traditional classroom which starts colder (poorer insulation) - and climbs to be hotter - again, a target of 18° - 21°C is optimal for learning - so the traditional classroom becomes significantly too hot.

The large agile space starts off warmer (better insulation) and doesn't get as hot, but is still a little too warm in the afternoon - maybe all the glass that gives the good light gives too much heat from the sun too - maybe more windows needed opening.

However the alarming pair of lines is the top pair showing humidity dropping from too dry, to way too dry in both learning spaces during the day. Plants, and thus evaporating water containers, or maybe less warmth would all help to offset this.

The important thing here is for the LEARNOMETER data to help teachers and planners and particularly learners themselves, to see what is happening to their learning environment and to take appropriate action to make learning better - for example taking paper down from all the glass to improve light levels, opening doors, having large plants... The LEARNOMETER project will allow you to look back on changes in your own space, to compare with others (as you see above) and much more.

Our next task is to develop the little boxes so that everuone can have one, affordably. Watch this space,

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this page created 2014 and last updated on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 7:57 AM