Managing Background Noise in the Classroom

Author: Gina Cunsolo

managing classroom background noise yamaha
Managing Background Noise in the Classroom

Teachers face a host of challenges these days. Classroom sizes are getting larger as schools work to educate more students with fewer resources. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a shift to online learning, for which many students and educators weren’t prepared. Mask mandates come and go.

When they do manage to get students in the classroom, instructors need to capture and maintain their interest. Students already have enough demands on their attention, and if there’s excessive background noise the task of delivering instruction can be nearly impossible.

Reducing background noise

Background noise in a classroom can come from a variety of sources. The main one, of course, is the students themselves. If it’s not the chattering of their voices, it’s the clacking of keyboards or the scraping of chairs. Background classroom noise can also come from noisy HVAC systems, instructors in the next room playing videos, students in the hallway, or even the sound of traffic from a nearby highway.

Excessive noise can have serious consequences when it comes to student learning. Numerous studies have shown noise interferes with learning by impairing memory, concentration, and the ability to distinguish speech. It interferes with reading comprehension and can even contribute to increased stress and high blood pressure. And despite an assumption that students will “just get used to it,” the opposite is true. On the other hand, good audio in the classroom has been proven to enhance learning.

If you’re an instructor facing these challenges, here are some tips on managing background noise in the classroom:

Mask it with additional background noise

White noise in the classroom

White noise has come to mean a variety of different things, but the true definition is any combination of sounds that includes all equal frequencies between 20 and 20,000 Hertz. Because white noise includes all frequencies, it tends to successfully mask other sounds. Applying white noise has been widely demonstrated to make people feel calm, focused, and less stressed.

yamaha speech privacy system classroomSpeech privacy systems for classrooms

Speech privacy systems prevent information leakage by reducing human voice intelligibility for the accidental, external listener. Many speech privacy systems use white noise generators to mask conversations. A system such as the VSP-2 from Yamaha Unified Communications can be a great tool to employ when students are working in small groups.

Pink noise

Pink noise is composed of equal energy in all octaves (halving or doubling) of a frequency. Pink noise is often found in biological systems such as heartbeats, the sound of rustling leaves, and even our thought patterns. Although the main benefit of pink noise is helping to improve sleep, it has also been shown to improve memory as well. In fact, many of those sleep machines that are billed as white noise generators actually generate pink noise.

Reduce background noise with various tech solutions

Install sound panels

Many classrooms today have smooth concrete walls and linoleum floors that reflect sound and contribute to excessive classroom background noise. Placing sound-absorbing panels on the walls can be an effective, inexpensive way to reduce noise.

yamaha wireless microphone classroomManage echo and reverb

One of the best ways to ensure students can hear instructors clearly is by incorporating an audio system that employs a microphone and speakers to amplify the instructor’s voice. Yamaha UC’s ADECIA family of products, for example, is designed to be easily installed to provide a seamless, complete, and customizable communications solutions for meeting spaces or classroom audio.

Features of the ADECIA solution include dereverberation technology to eliminate excessive reverb and acoustic echo cancellation for crystal-clear audio.

ADECIA automatically detects components, configures devices, and optimizes audio performance for the room environment - adjusting for reverberation characteristics, echo behavior, speaker/mic position, and more.

How Yamaha UC can help educators

Education technology has been an area of focus for Yamaha UC for decades. See our education resoru learn more about education technology and to download our free Education E-book. Contact us to speak with one of our experts.