Axis lends a helping hand to ground-breaking educational research project
Axis Communications has been involved in a very different kind of project of late. Working with Leeds Beckett University and the Carnegie School of Education, Axis is assisting in ground-breaking research to demonstrate a link between sound, changes in sensory perception and mood among primary and secondary school children with ASH/ADHD and behavioural issues. The aim of the research initiative is to demonstrate how the innovative use of sound technologies can provide children with learning difficulties with better outcomes in their education and in their futures.
Previous research had only taken place in clinical settings. This project involves the installation of sound projection IP audio equipment into five mainstream provision schools in the North of England. The equipment is positioned in specific classrooms to help identified pupils who struggle with a range of specific learning difficulties and/or behavioural issues. IP audio was selected as it will not only enable different sound profiles to be centrally managed and played in different zones, but it would also be easy to deploy onto the school’s existing IT infrastructure.
The pilot research project takes off
There is increasing evidence that certain sounds have the potential to reduce anxiety; that ‘white’ and ‘pink’ noise played through speakers has the potential to alter mood and promote relaxation. In addition to the primary aim of improving wellbeing for pupils who may find elements of day-to-day school life challenging, research suggests that sound can potentially have a positive impact on pupils’ ability to engage in learning and concentration tasks in schools.
John Allen, Access Control Business Development Manager at Axis Communications, spoke about the motivation behind the project. “I was very interested in the practical application of audio in helping children with ASD, ADHD and a range of behavioural issues in their school environment. These children can often find school a challenging and intimidating place, so my idea was to look at ways in which our audio solutions could help create a calmer and more relaxing classroom environment. This would enable the children to focus on their learning and also aid their emotional wellbeing.”
Axis very much fosters a culture of innovation, encouraging employees to be creative in how technology is used for the betterment of society. John continued, “There’s a strong ethical motivation behind this as it allows Axis to use our audio technology, together with our ability to provide analysis and insight, to do our bit to help young people locally and perhaps even further afield. At Axis we’re continually striving to look for ways in which people can benefit from our solutions and services – what we refer to as ‘Innovating for a Smarter Safer World’.”
Axis joined forces with Leeds Beckett University to help bring the project to fruition. Daren Lang, Regional Manager, Business Development – Northern Europe, commented: “Our speakers are a complete audio solution, with no need for additional streaming boxes, amplifiers or additional hardware. This lessens the impact on the additional infrastructure needed and makes for a faster and easier system set up as the speakers are far easier to install.”
The project will run for an initial 6 month pilot phase, with data collected in two cycles; one mid-way through the project and the next at the end of the summer term. Interviews will be conducted with all staff involved to explore their experiences and perceptions in more detail, drilling further into staff observations and perceptions of the impact of the sounds and their potential to improve classroom management, pupil behaviour and general wellbeing. At the conclusion of each cycle of research a summative report and several academic papers will be produced, with opportunities for dissemination of findings at both academic and professional conferences.
Upscaling the project
The combination of Carnegie School of Education and Axis Communications provides a unique opportunity to further explore the potential for improving the lives and education of a wide range of pupils in schools. The IP audio equipment can also serve a cross functional purpose as the main PA system; if it were installed in more areas within the schools, a wider range of pupils could be involved in the research project. In the long term, this project could be rolled out nationwide and internationally.
Upscaling the project would allow the team to differentiate between the different Special Educational Needs and Social and Emotional behavioural issues which different pupils experience within educational settings. This will provide findings that can be of practical use to schools and also be relevant in helping these children successfully integrate and thrive in the wider world at large.
Professor Jonathan Glazzard of The Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools was instrumental in choosing the Axis solution and helping implement the project. “We know that sound has a clear and tangible benefit on health and wellbeing, and we hope that sound, used in this practical classroom setting, will lead to an improvement in pupil behaviour and enable them to concentrate in lessons and make greater progress. If we can demonstrate this link, we hope the project will be rolled out nationally.”
He was pleasantly surprised when, upon unveiling the project, teachers were receptive to the idea. “I initially thought that some of the teachers would be resistant, but when they saw how intuitive the Axis equipment is to use, and the potentially positive outcome of the research, they really welcomed this new strategy to help their children engage and focus.”