New tech makes classrooms smarter

Smart classrooms are eco-friendly and improves student learning

Have you written an exam in a freezing cold room or had to do a presentation in one that was way too hot?

If so, you’ll be interested to learn that the Smart Connected Buildings Lab at George Brown College (GBC) is designing a smart classroom.

These high tech learning spaces will allow students control over the environment of their classroom—lighting, temperature, and sound— all through an app.

“When you have an option to decide what’s around you, it’s really huge,” said Anastasiia Roldugina, a student researcher in the lab and a computer science student at GBC.

Like many students, she understands first-hand what it’s like to go into a classroom and immediately want to leave because it’s uncomfortable. 

We are all familiar with arguments over the thermostat—some people are too hot while others are too cold.

Similarly, some people focus better with dim lighting, and others with white noise.

The lab has a solution for this too.

They are looking at breaking each room into zones that can be controlled individually and in real time.

In collaboration with industry partners, a classroom in the engineering department at the Casa Loma campus will be made into a smart classroom.

Data from the smart classroom will be collected directly from students, and solutions can be designed that suit their needs.

“The white paper will show the benefit of adopting this technology and controlling the environment, how much influence it’s going to have on the student learning,” said Amir Shabani, Canada Industrial Research Chair (IRCC) in Smart Connected Buildings.

Shabani is a professor and the director of the Smart Connected Buildings Lab at GBC.

The director and her team are keen to see the effect of working in a smart classroom on student productivity since it’s hard for anyone to concentrate when you’re physically comfortable.

Although technologies like Google Nest and Ecobee are becoming more popular in homes and residential buildings, they are not yet standard in industrial, commercial, and institutional buildings like schools.

Besides the potential benefits for productivity and comfort, there’s a significant environmental impact.

Institutional buildings are a leading producer of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, with oil and gas and transportation at the top of the list, according to a 2015 report by the government.

Smart classrooms that can automatically adjust the temperature to adjust to lower room occupancy and seasonal changes would drastically reduce a building’s carbon footprint. 

While the project is still in the early stages, Shabani hopes that the results of the study will speak for themselves.

“Lots of universities and colleges are looking at new buildings,” said Shabani. “Let’s learn from this phase and see how we can scale it up.”

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New tech makes classrooms smarter