Investment sought for device to monitor 'learning conditions' for schools

The effect poor school environments can have on children undergoing tests and examinations can be tantamount to them “trying to run 100 metres in heavy boots”, says Professor Stephen Heppell.

He has just released research feedback to back up that assertion, just as his Learnometer monitoring invention is launched for crowd-sourced investment on the Kickstarter website.

Learnometer sensors can monitor and upload exam room data

picstephenhProfessor Stephen Heppell

There has been plenty of press coverage about the latest rounds of testing and attendant problems, but little has been written about the school conditions in which children undertake these tests. Professor Heppell, project leader and professor at Centre for Excellence in Media Practice, Bournemouth University, invited schools to measure conditions - including temperature, CO2 volume, noise and sound. And the Kickstarter team evaluated more than 50 examination rooms across the world.

Professor Stephen Heppell commented: “The research clearly identified that various conditions have a profound impact on performance. The results show how these conditions can unfairly skew the outcome of children’s hard work. In so many cases they will perform below their best, simply because the environment they are in is damaging to their performance."

The Learnometer team has created hardware and software that can automatically monitor and record "light levels, inappropriate temperatures, distracting sound volumes and rhythms, excessive humidity, air pollution, CO2 pooling". These can be automatically uploaded

Three models have been devised: Micro provides temperature, pressure and humidity readings; Mini adds light and sound; full LOM "reads and uploads temperature, humidity, pressure, light, sound, CO2 and pollution via a wireless connection". The Kickstarter presentation adds: "It really is a ground-breaking device and our cloud backend will let you log, record and compare data too." 

Dig deep - Kickstarter funding deadline is June 12

The project has already raised roughly 10 per cent of the £45,000 goal it has to reach on Kickstarter to ensure that the prototypes can go into production. And the meter is running - that goal has to be reached by the project deadline of Sunday June 12. 

pichannahjonesHannah JonesLearning spaces expert Hannah Jones (left), of Connecting Learning, urges investors and companies associated with this area of education to dig deep and support the project. "An opportunity to support development of technology that can help make a big difference for learning spaces doesn't come along very often," she said.

"The work done by Professor Heppell on learning spaces shows that very few students get to demonstrate their full potential under optimum conditions – and yet considerable evidence points to an explicit relationship between the physical environment and educational outcomes. Every effort should therefore be made to create the ideal conditions for learning to take place – the Learnometer puts this knowledge in the hands of school leaders and teachers.

"Many companies already invest heavily on research and development to ensure the school environments they are building for our learners are of the highest standard. This is the perfect opportunity for the education, building and technology communities to get together and provide much-needed financial help for a great concept to develop a tool that will undoubtedly make a difference to learning and well-being of students."

The research underlines what Professor Heppell has been discussing in public forums for some time. He added: “It was fascinating to see so many teachers’ shock to realise, from their own data gathering, why groups of children are disengaged, not concentrating, or underperforming.

“As we approach GCSE and A-level exams, it is time to give everyone the best chance possible. This isn't currently happening.”

Learnometer on Kickstarter  

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