Hillbrook School, an independent, coeducational JK-8 day school in the heart of Silicon Valley, is leaping straight into the fray of mobile learning.

Part one: the demonstration phase

A demonstration project revealing the agility and adaptability of learning spaces, and how space can support learning and teaching.

Mission

  • Develop an innovative, flexible, agile learning space to support Hillbrook faculty and students.
  • Design and implement protocols and practices to collect evidence of use, outcomes and impact.
  • Test the concept and provide feedback for refining solutions.
  • Tell the story.

Goals

  • Increase student engagement.
  • Foster interaction.
  • Encourage creative problem solving.
  • Support a range of pedagogies.
  • Improve student outcomes.
  • Support learning with technologies.

Part two: the research phase

A research project to collect evidence of impact and thus inform decisions around any future redesign of all HIllbrook learning spaces.

Mission

Balance sound decisions and practice with quality evidence that confidently answers two fundamental questions: “Does it work?” and “How do we know?”

Evidence

The research project is collecting several types of evidence:

  • Anecdotal evidence consists of informal information in the form of stories, photos, recordings, observations and direct personal experiences.
  • Ethnographic evidence expands on anecdotal evidence, employing observations in-person, photographic and video), interviews, survey questionnaires, focus groups and similar tools. Ethnography seeks to capture everyday behavior in context.
  • Empirical evidence results from a more structured, data intensive approach to collecting information. One begins with a specific question (hypothesis). Answering this question almost always involves a form of comparison. This is the essence of the scientific method: making comparisons between similar groups under different conditions, or comparing something before and after a planned change.

Status

The iLab, in this first phase, has witnessed all kinds of use. Students flow from class to iLab as necessary, and the iLab itself takes on many shapes. Mobile fliptop tables, whiteboards on wheels, and folding chairs enable any iLab user to build a custom workspace for class, group, or individual work. Walls of whiteboards allow easy, fun collaboration, and the whiteboards and flipped tables allow physical divisions within the room. The initial impact seems to be an increase in creative energy of students.

During the 2012 summer break, Bretford® EDU 2.0 furniture will be installed and the iLab space will see complimentary upgrades in flooring and wall colors. Over the fall and winter trimesters of 2012, teachers have planned to conduct identical activities and projects in traditional learning spaces and in the iLab. The research team will collect student outcomes,teacher evaluations and anecdotal and ethnographic evidence will be collected to understand the agility and adaptability of learning spaces, and how spaces can support learning and teaching. Ultimately, the discoveries made here will inform  classroom design around the world.