Hi-tech education research gains global interest

by Robert Ballantyne13 Mar 2015

A new array of hi-tech resources is being used for educational research into student learning psychology.

Sixteen cameras and 32 microphones are placed around the classroom but they are so discreet that students barely notice them. The devices are designed to record and monitor students’ every physical - and mental - reaction during their learning experience.

Professor David Clarke, director of the International Centre for Classroom Research at Melbourne University’s Graduate School of Education, told The Herald Sun that although under heavy surveillance, the classroom was virtually like any other.

“There is no comparable facility, anywhere,” Clarke said.

“It is an unmatched tool for our research.”

Teachers who wish to be a part of the research are asked to bring a class of students to the room where researchers observe them in a booth behind a one-way glass panel.

Some of the participating students wear wrist bands to monitor their heart rate, temperature, perspiration level and physical movement.

The equipment allows the researchers a glimpse into the minds of the students as they learn. For example, if a student’s heart rate rises, researchers are able to analyse all relevant collected data to pinpoint what was going on.

Clarke said previous attempts to electronically monitor classrooms were “inevitably obtrusive”.

“Now you can simultaneously document how each child relates to what a teacher is saying,” Clarke said, adding that international interest had been “huge”.

“We can live-stream this to anywhere in the world. We will build a rich database of classroom interactions that will be an enduring research resource and evidence base.”

The special classroom is part of the Science of Learning Research Centre, which has investigators from nine research institutions across Australia and is supported by $16m of funding from the Australian Research Council.
 
 

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