My name is Sara Boyd and I am a Lecturer in Environmental Health Risk Management in the School of Food Science & Environmental Health at the Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland. If you would like to contact me, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Noise Measurement Apps were integrated into the occupational safety and health module with undergraduate Environmental Health students. The Environmental Health Profession regularly requires the use of hand-held mobile devices for instant feedback in occupational audits and inspections. Compliance with relevant occupational noise levels was also measured. Noise Apps were also used with Food Innovation students who will be employed with the food manufacturing sector. The aim of the project with food innovation students was to create general awareness about noise levels in the workplace, sources of noise in work, exposure to noise in the workplace and exploration of possible control measures using the controls measure hierarchy.
Description of project
Changes in technology continue to change the possibilities for teaching and learning and create new challenges for pedagogy. The growing use of mobile technology on college campuses suggests the future of the classroom, including learning activities, research, and even student-faculty or departmental communications will rely heavily on mobile technology. Learning with mobile technology allows the students to expand discussion and investigation beyond the walls on the lecture theatre (Rossing et al, 2012). Johnson et al (2011) reported that increasing numbers of students now expect the ability to “work, learn and study wherever and whenever they want. For this project I used a range of noise measuring Apps for mobile phones for application in the workplace and everyday life. The main aim of the project was to educate students regarding measuring noise, interpretation of noise measurement results and measure the compliance level. The project also introduced students to the concept of noise induced hearing loss (NHHL) and how we are exposed to loud noises in our everyday lives.
Selection of Noise Apps
After completing the lecture material in class (notes on Blackboard platform also) students were asked to research, select and download a free Noise App. Emphasis was placed on the “free” component as did not want to put a cost onto the students. Students were asked to consider the following when selecting their preferred Noise App
- noise measurement range of the app
- facility to calibrate the App
- facility to record noise levels
- graphical output – charts, graphics etc
- also selection of an App that was compatible with their mobile phone – Android or Apple (all students had smart phones).
There is a wide variety of Noise Measuring Apps which are available for the Android and iPhone devices.
Most modern phones have in-built microphones which can measure the sound pressure level. The free Noise Apps available differed greatly in design, capabilities, presentation and output. A demonstration was given in class using the Too Loud noise app which also gives a health warning when noise levels exceed acceptable levels. This instant health message can be very effective.
The Case Study
Students were asked to download and apply noise measurement Apps in many scenarios. Many students have part-time jobs and they were asked to note noise measurements in work, at home and in social settings for example nightclub or concert. They were also asked to record noise measurements on public transport, on the street and when watching television. This self-directed task opened up a healthy and highly interactive conversation on return to the lecture about real time noise measurements, how to measure exposure (daily and weekly) and the possible health impact. It was also an opportunity to gather, compare and contrast real-time noise data from the field.
The following is a brief description of 10 free Noise Apps which were selected, used and applied by students.
Graphic 1. Screen shots of Sound Meter Noise Graphics (Nov 2016).
Figure 2. Screenshots of Physics Toolbox Sound Meter (Nov, 2016).
First and foremost the students were fully engaged in using their mobile phones and were happy to be given an opportunity to integrate this into their module. The students reported ease of use and downloading of the above Noise Apps. They were engaged in the application and interpretation of noise results they had generated. It must be noted that we measured the Noise Apps against a certified and calibrated Bruel and Kjaer Type 1, 2238 Sound Level Meter. Whilst there were variations in noise level readings using the same noise source – students were made aware that the Noise Apps gave an indicator of the noise levels. This emphasised the validity and reliability (or lack thereof) of some of the noise measurements. The student feedback was extremely positive regarding the task and interpretation. The students really enjoyed the practical aspect to the project. Many students were quite surprised how loud some sources of noise were for example on public transport and in music events. One student took a measurement of 116db in a nightclub. The exercise opened up a conversation about hearing protection from an early age – in both an occupational and leisure setting.
And finally one for the little ones – “Too Noisy”
This free Noise App can be used in the classroom for children, again to create awareness about noise and noise levels. This app allows the children to monitor their own noise levels in the classroom using visual stimulus– how noisy are they? It operates on a traffic light system and allows for monitoring of quiet and for more creative classroom scenarios. It’s appealing to children and introduces them early to the basic concept of noise, sources of noise and measurement of noise. It also introduces the concept on self-monitoring using hand-held devices. Interaction tendency in children is enhanced by mobile applications.
Graphic 3. Screen shots of the “Too Noisy” App for classroom settings
There is no doubt that application and use of Noise Apps for this particular module fully engaged students and supported learning. Foti and Mendez (2014) reported students turn their mobile devices into learning tools through the use of apps. Their study concluded that students would like to see mobile devices integrated into the lecture theatre to make learning interactive and dynamic through the use of appropriate Apps. Previous studies have found the use of mobile devices in lectures is considered enjoyable and convenient by students (Rossing et al 2012).
COMPETITION TIME: The half way giveaway!
To be in with a chance to win a €60 e-voucher, complete the following task.
For those with an Android device please download the free app “Sound Metre ABC”. For those with an Apple device please download the free app “Decibel 10th Professional Noise Metre”. Shout “Happy Christmas” as loud as you can and take a screen shot of the level of noise you created. Tweet your screenshot to #12appsDIT. The noisiest person wins!
If you do not have a twitter account but would like to enter the competition, please email your screenshot to email@example.com
Any comments or observations can be tweeted to #12appsDIT or left in the comments box below.
Fotis, Megan, K and Mendez, Jomayra (2014. Mobile Learning: How Students Use Mobile Devices to Support Learning. Journal of Literacy and Technology, Vol 15, Number 3: December 2014 ISSN 1535-09457. Retrieved from www.literacyandtechnology.org jlt_v15_3
Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., and Haywood, K., (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report, Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
Rossing, Jonathan P., Miller, Willie M., Cecil, Amanda K., Stamper, Suzan E. iLearning: The Future of Higher Education? Student Perceptions on Learning with Mobile Tablets, Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, v12 n2 p1-26 June 2012.