Hillbrook School Unveils iLab Learning Space

Published | Wed, August 29, 2012

Building a new paradigm for educational spaces and laying the groundwork so other schools can follow, 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 agility and adaptability of the space and how it can support teaching and learning.

The new custom workspace was created in partnership with Bretford Manufacturing, Inc.®, a U.S. manufacturer of dependable furniture products that improve how people work and learn. 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. The story, learning curve, videos, blogs and other findings can be followed here at the Hillbrook iLab website. The iLab project can also be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/hillbrookilab.

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 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.”

“Nearly three years ago, Bretford® started a project to discover the best ways to support technology in the changing learning spaces, one of which included engaging teachers, students and decision-makers to capture the ‘voice of the classroom,’” said Chris Petrick, CEO for Bretford Manufacturing, Inc.® “To support the integration of mobile smart devices into the learning space, we created our EDU 2.0 line of furniture. It’s built to be flexible and support the many changes that technology is bringing to the classroom. We look forward to seeing the research and finding what effects, if any, the learning environment has on behavior and how spaces can support teaching and learning.” 

According to Tim Springer, founder of Hero, Inc., “The Hillbrook project will provide research-basedevidence to inform best practices on how to implement technology and what to do with bricks and mortar.” He added, “The goal is to provide an optimal, agile environment and assess how teachers and students use the physical space to support effective learning in the digital age. Hillbrook School is on the cutting edge of changing the physical school environment and helping define best practices for learning.”


About Hillbrook School

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Hillbrook School provides an extraordinary JK-8 educational experience that fosters a love of learning in its students and helps them develop the knowledge, skills, and confidence to achieve their highest individual potential in school and in life. For over 75 years, Hillbrook has been on the cutting edge of educational innovation, with programs like the Center for Teaching Excellence and the 1:1 iPad program. Hillbrook seeks to inspire students to achieve their dreams and reach beyond themselves to make a difference in the world. To learn more about Hillbrook School, go to www.hillbrook.org


About HERO, Inc.

Human Environmental Research Organization, Inc. (HERO, Inc.) is a Chicago –based consulting practice specializing in research, ergonomics, planning and change management of built environments. Focusing on the impact of environments on people andperformance, HERO studies the convergence of behaviors, tools, processes, practices, technologies, and spaces. Its consultants develop and test prototypical ideas and concepts to yield practical, effective, high-performance solutions that designers and architects can implement with HERO’s input and guidance.HERO relies on both science and craft. The work is very knowledge-intensive and demands a lot of specific and particular kinds of experience. It is the kind of experience that is rare and only found at the thinly populated, leading edge of environmental change. To learn more about HERO, Inc., go to www.hero-inc.com.

About Bretford Manufacturing, Inc.

Bretford is a manufacturer of furniture for both learning and work environments. Founded in 1948 and headquartered in Franklin Park, IL, Bretford holds close to seven decades of expertise dedicated to the design and manufacture of sustainable furniture solutions that are made in the U.S.A. Each furniture design is built for quality and mobility so rooms, people and information can move and still stay connected.

With nearly 350 employees and 450,000 square feet of production space, the company offers smart furniture designs that support evolving technology, enabling institutions, organizations and corporations to increase productivity and efficiency. Superior workmanship and environmentally-compliant manufacturing and operation practices ensure dependable Bretford products, many of which are GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified®. The company is committed to using less energy, creating less waste and reducing its carbon footprint. Bretford is a CarbonNeutral® certified company and its EDU 2.0 line is among the first in the contract furniture industry to achieve CarbonNeutral product certification. All Bretford products are backed by a 12-year standard warranty.