Classroom Design | News

California School Opens Multimedia 'iLab' To Support iPad Initiative

California School Opens Multimedia 'iLab' To Support iPad Initiative

Following the implementation of its 1:1 take-home iPad program, a California school has revamped its 720-square-foot computer lab to create a flexible, technology-driven learning environment for students.

Hillbrook School in Los Gatos, CA unveiled its new iLab Aug. 29 on the first day of classes. The iLab uses the Bretford EDU 2.0 furniture system from Bretford Manufacturing, which encourages collaborative learning.

The furniture and equipment includes 110 square feet of mounted whiteboards, 90 square feet of mobile whiteboards; soft Motiv seating, which includes power; a soundbooth; green screens; and robotics kits.

"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," said 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."

The school also contracted with research firm Hero to design the iLab and measure its results. Hero is comparing activities that are taking place in other classrooms versus ones in the iLab. Evidence that will be used includes photos, videos, observations, teacher evaluations, and student feedback. It will use the evidence to look at student confidence, engagement, and performance in the classroom.

"The iLab is different from any other classroom on campus," said Head of School Mark Silver. "It embodies Hillbrook's vision for increased innovation and community building. And we've already seen a change in faculty engagement. Teachers are excited about the space and eager to see what effects it will have on their curriculum. Our theme for the year at Hillbrook is 'Curiosity'--the iLab will definitely provide us with ample opportunity to further explore that theme."

Hillbrook School is an independent, co-ed, junior kindergarten- through eighth-grade school. It has 315 enrolled students and 45 faculty members. It owns 163 computers and 230 iPads.

For more information, visit hillbrook.org/.

About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at timothyjsohn@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @editortim.

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