A world-first high tech classroom launched at the University of Melbourne today by Senator the Hon Scott Ryan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education and Training, will help researchers to better understand how learning takes place in the brain and to improve teaching.

Structured like a conventional school classroom, this revolutionary facility allows researchers to observe the class behind a large one-way observation mirror and record and analyse the wide range of student and teacher actions and interactions without disruption.

Chief Investigator, Professor David Clarke from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education (MGSE) said "the conventional classroom is enormously complex and our understanding of learning as a social activity is fairly limited."

"The visible presence of tripods in the classroom and the number of necessary personnel can be distracting.

"Lessons given in our state-of-the-art classroom can be recorded through up to sixteen high definition video cameras and up to thirty-two fixed and portable microphones, which can be controlled by a technical team to capture everything the researchers need."

The experimental facility will provide an essential research link for education, neuroscience and psychology experts to unpack the new area of educational neuroscience and how it might inform classroom learning.

"We can try innovative new teaching and learning approaches and technologies and study every aspect of the students' responses," Professor Clarke explained.

"We can also 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."

Leading education researcher Professor John Hattie from MGSE, who is also a Chief Investigator for the project, said he is excited by the possibilities that the new classroom presents.

"We're now able to bridge the gap between education and neuroscience, and learn more about the production, measurement and enhancement of learning," Professor Hattie said.

"These outcomes will make a very real impact on how teachers teach and how students learn."

The classroom is part of the Science of Learning Research Centre, which comprises 25 chief investigators from nine research institutions across Australia and is supported by $16 million of Commonwealth funding from the Australian Research Council and additional support from a variety of organisations.

More information:

Professor David Clarke: 0407 830 044 d.clarke@unimelb.edu.au

Education media:
Marisa S. Saeter: (03) 9035 6484 / 0435 960 030 marisa.s.saeter@unimelb.edu.au