Hillbrook School, an independent, coeducational JK-8 day school, today unveiled an experimental learning space called the iLab in conjunction with the first day of the new school year. The foundational idea of the iLab is that, along with books, teachers and environment, the learning space is also an education tool. Student outcomes, teacher evaluations and anecdotal, ethnographic and empirical evidence are being collected to understand the adaptability of the space and how it can support teaching and learning.
The new custom workspace was created in partnership with Bretford Manufacturing, Inc.®. The iLab is outfitted with the new Bretford® EDU 2.0 system of furniture and includes mobile flip top tables, mobile whiteboards and powered soft seating chairs. At the same time, HERO, Inc., a research and consulting firm, was brought in to design and conduct the iLab research project. Identical educational activities and projects in traditional learning spaces within the school are also being measured as a point of comparison with the iLab. Collected data will include onsite observations, student feedback, teacher evaluations, photos and videos. This evidence will be used to assess student performance, engagement and confidence in both the iLab and traditional classrooms.
Hillbrook redesigned its traditional computer lab into the iLab following the recent success of its 1:1 take home pilot iPad program.
“The result of the iPad introduction was a dramatic shift in the flow of the classroom — teaching and learning suddenly became more interesting and flexible,” explained Don Orth, director of technology for Hillbrook School. “The iLab builds on this idea and is designed to be a space that allows for even more opportunity. The initial impact seems to be an increase in the creative energy of students. We are witnessing first-hand that environment does matter and that technology has a substantial effect on how and where learning happens, which allows us to lead the way in rethinking what schools and classrooms look like.”
Christa Flores, Hillbrook’s iLab Director, noted that “Within this modest 720 square foot space will be a mini maker lab, a multi-disciplinary classroom and a hub for extra-curricular activities that are best supported by a flexible environment, such as robotics, speech and debate, and collaborations across grades and disciplines working on ‘Design Thinking’ projects.”
The story, learning curve, videos, blogs and other findings can be followed at the Hillbrook iLab website.