What happens if you can’t hear well in the lecture hall? What if you try recording the lecture, and despite your decent device, the audio turns out terrible? These are just some of the problems of modern lecture hall design.

Another problem is an echo. It can be annoying, distracting, and completely ruin your privacy. Will you sit through a two-hour lecture without speaking to the colleague sitting next to you? If you’re risking the whole hall hearing you, you might.

All of this can be fixed if you just think more about the lecture hall acoustics. Here’s what you need to know.

Better learning environment

The most important thing you want to achieve is to create a better learning environment. Echo is distracting, and not being able to hear the professor from the back row completely defeats the purpose of attending the lecture. So, with better acoustics, you can eliminate some of these problems.

Reducing echo is a huge priority, whether talking about an office space or a lecture hall. Echo usually happens because a sound is reflected off a flat, smooth surface. A sound wave just bounces back off them and reflects across the room.

This often happens in rooms that:

  • Have high ceilings
  • Have bare walls
  • Don’t have enough furniture
  • Have uncovered windows

The problem is that this description suits the vast majority of lecture halls. So, your echo problem is going to be quite serious.

But why is an echo so problematic?

First, echo amplifies all the noise, which means that even if you have to whisper something to your colleague, it will come out much louder than intended. This makes students get less privacy, which in turn makes them uncomfortable. Sure, focusing on the lecture is important, but it’s impossible (even unnecessary to do so 100% of the time).

Second, echo directly hurts your productivity. For instance, a quiet and calm space can increase productivity by 58% in an office environment. There’s no reason why university settings and learning environments would have worse numbers.

Finally, it’s easier to concentrate in a quiet room, which is exactly what you’re going for.

Not to mention that less echo means a more comfortable lecture hall.

Modern lectures are recorded

Recording lectures is easier than taking notes. Students record via their devices and listen to and transcribe when they get home. Even in the best learning environments, some chatter or interference always exists.

While it may not interfere with the lecture, it will distract you and make keeping notes (or taking dictation) somewhat harder. If the audio recording is good enough, you can easily listen to the lecture when you return home.

Most importantly, it’s not like you have to choose between recording and taking notes. The majority of students who record do both. Having a soundproof facility will make this a lot easier and make the effects of this a lot greater.

Many universities and educational institutions record their lectures and upload them online. This way, the students don’t have to rely on inefficient recording devices, and there’s universal access to this learning material. For these universities, these videos are also used as a form of promotion.

With the right acoustics, the quality of the recording will be a lot higher. This means the effects of everything we’ve mentioned will be amplified.

Investing in the reputation of the university

The reputation of the university’s acoustics will spread far and wide. Believe it or not, this question is not as often discussed as it deserves. According to most regulations, acoustic panels are the only thing considered when improving the acoustic structure.

Still, there’s no reason for the university to stop there. Why not invest in a cloud ceiling, as well? The interesting thing about the ceiling clouds is that they’re also an aesthetic addition to the lecture hall. In other words, once you install them, it will be impossible not to notice them.

Now, images from lecture halls are spread around social media, and the difference between halls without ceiling clouds and halls with them will spread around. The latter looks more modern, even more futuristic. This is an immediate PR win, even outside of all the amazing acoustic properties you get from it.

It also illustrates that you’re running an organization ready to go above and beyond to create the optimal learning environment. You become that university always ready to go that extra mile, even when it’s something as basic as eliminating echo.

Adjusting to any layout

Architects love to be extra creative when it comes to lecture halls. Universities are modern shrines, which is why this is their opportunity to shine and put their creativity on full display.

The problem is that this means that there are so many different layout ideas out there. One of the ideas you may encounter is a circular learning hall where the professor’s desk or stand is in the middle of the room.

A learning studio is an innovative take. It’s a crossover between a classroom and a standard office. Here, all the methods for productivity are incorporated into the layout.

Then, you have the lecture hall with alternating fixed tables, the clamshell, and the elliptical studio.

While these amazing shapes have something new to bring to the table, they can make the room’s acoustics quite difficult.

For instance, a circular layout means that the sound will be coming from the middle of the room and not from a single spot all the listeners face. This completely changes the acoustical structure of the room.

Ideally, you should have professionals come up with a solution right away. There’s always a solution; you must start looking for it.

Wrap up

Lectures are verbal, which means that the poor acoustics in the room defeat the whole purpose. So, to make the lecture hall serviceable, you need to tend to the acoustics. However, you don’t have to settle for serviceability. Do the best you can to improve the acoustical structure of the lecture hall, and you’ll enhance the results your students achieve along the way.