When Hilbrook implemented its 1:1 take home iPad program (one of the first in the world), the vision was to enhance learning. The technology enables more sophisticated, multifaceted, and inspired learning. 5th grade students used iPads above in their bridge building project--a project that has been going on wonderfully for years--to capture their building, to sketch variations of structure, to create reports, and more. They used the new iLab to do the work. The combination of resources, tools, and great teaching, made this project more engaging and more memorable than ever before.
At Hillbrook, we believe students today must be fluent and agile in a fast-changing world. It’s not enough to master the technology that exists today, but one must be prepared to adapt and understand the tools that will be available tomorrow. At Hillbrook, we integrate and use technology as a tool to enhance learning. Ultimately, we want to students to explore the world and create to their fullest potential, and technology is one of the ways they will get there. We want them to understand deeply all the tools that are available to them, and to use them well.
There is a wide range of technology available to students at Hillbrook, though we don’t dwell on it. As a school in the heart of Silicon Valley, we make sure to keep technology in perspective--when a vector illustration program, an iPad app, or laying tracks in a video editing program is the best tool for the job, we make sure students have instant access and the understanding to use them well and creatively; when the best tool is a whiteboard, a glue gun, an analogue microscope, or a conversation, our students learn how to choose these to enhance their learning.
Our teachers are an important part of the experience. They understand our students well to help guide them in making good decisions about use of technology. Educating digital citizens is key. Every teacher from JK to 8th grade is committed to educating students about the ethical and appropriate use of technology from gathering resources online to interacting with friends and professionals across the world.
Randy Nelson (former Dean of Pixar University) talked about helping Pixar (and now Dreamworks) select employees from the world's best and the brightest applicants at a recent education and technology conference. He said that the two most important characteristics he was looking for were people who had attained mastery in a particular area and showed experience in and curiosity about everything else. At Hillbrook, we believe in preparing students for life, but we hold even higher value in their experience today. Technology allows each student to dig deep in the areas he or she cares about, and feed his or her curiosity in a broad range of topics. This year, one of our students is building a MakerBot with his advisor, while another small group explores programming original games. Students in lower school individualize reading with an iPad (with built-in dictionaries, text to speech capabilities) and can proceed at their own pace. We want our students to explore the world widely and deeply—technology is one tool that helps them get there.