Tag Archives: Russel County Adult Education

Breaking the SOUND BARRIER


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A couple weeks back I had the opportunity to meet with Rodney Johnson of Russel County Adult Education (RCAE). Walking into his instructional space one is greeted by “Program of Excellence Banners” awarded by the state of Kentucky for what looked like the past 10 years: it was like walking into Rupp Arena and it was AWESOME.

I had the opportunity to meet the staff and I was given a tour of his space. Let me tell you, RCAE is not lacking on space. What they are lacking on, however, is noise control.

 The center is located in the gym area of a former high school. The gym has been split into multiple rooms. The main space takes half the gym, and is split between a 30 seat computer lab and a 15 chair group study space. On the other half of the court are 3 classrooms. And beyond those three rooms, where a stage would be is another, computer lab holding 20 computers.

Lots of space. Lots of options for students and instruction. The space has monitors and projectors mounted, wireless access points, etc. What is lacking? Ceilings. 

Noise carries throughout the space like flight attendants delivering peanuts.

During our conversation Rodney looks at me point blank and says, “Barry, where should I spend my money? I have money for technology that I won’t have next year, where should I spend it?” And I did not have an immediate response.

As I was driving away, while staring down the Cumberland Parkway and thinking about his space a crazy, hair brained idea came to me. What if one could block sound WITH sound. What if, instead of physical ceilings, we could make ceilings of sound — white noise — that would quiet the instruction space from the testing space?

And then… what if the program could introduce layered sound.  I will get to my idea of layered sound in a moment, but want to share two bits of information that are important to the concept.

 1)Brain Gym – several years ago Kentucky was going through Brain Gym training. Among other things the researcher said that classical music in a 4/4 beat helped the mind and body sync. Moreso, the music could be sub-audible and still be effective.

 2) White noise – we know this center is be noisy, noisier than court rooms. In modern courtrooms when the two sides approach the bench the judge flips a switch that puts out white noise so the sound from the bench does not carry. Thinking of learning centers could one not use white noise to help keep noise from outside the classroom coming in?

 So now, let’s put idea 1 and 2 together. Using a computer one could have classical music playing in one program, with white noise over top it – programs could purchase CD’s, downloadable music or get free apps to deliver content. Let’s say an instructor wanted to watch a video as well? They could! And they could make the video the dominant sound, so that students could readily see and hear the content of the video, white noise would be blocking out distracting, outside noise; and classical music could be played at a sub-audible level – subversively helping students comprehend better the content being delivered.

Now to work on a cheap, replicable model – I want to know if I could use old computer speakers to make the sound system?


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