Hazelwood School in Surrey, England, is an independent co-educational preparatory school that is proud of its one hundred plus years of tradition and educational excellence; yet the school motto, spiritu inspiratus – which translates as ‘lungfuls of inspiration’ – is indicative equally of the school’s dedication to seek out and embrace champion the latest methods of learning and teaching.
In September 2018 Hazelwood opened THE B.O.X., an innovative, creative and agile learning space that fuses children’s innate ability to be creative with new and exciting technological advances that enhance their digital literacy.
“The space has no rules regarding how to teach or how to learn. The environment is agile and promotes creativity, flexibility and collaborative. There is no teacher's desk, no front or back of the classroom, no fixed furniture; it heralds a new way of teaching and learning which will be endless and full of investigative possibility for all of our students, from Early Years to Year 8,” says Russell Shepherd, Deputy Head, Hazelwood School.
THE B.O.X. has been equipped to facilitate development of digital literacy skills that will better equip Hazelwood pupils for the future, with a wide variety of equipment to support active learning, including virtual reality goggles, Lego construction bricks and wall, graphic design tools, interactive projection and robotics. The school has also embraced the use of three Google Jamboards, supplied by BenQ.
“The new space allows us to look differently at how we teach – it’s not about the teacher standing at the front and presenting any more. We started looking at interactive boards that would help us be more creative and better prepared for digital learning and felt that the Google Jamboard had great potential as an educational tool,” says Shepherd.
The space can be used by multiple classes at any one time, working together or separately; similarly, the Jamboards can be used individually or linked together to form one giant ‘jam session’ with real-time co-authoring. Students can brainstorm at the start of lessons, writing and drawing with accurate strokes on the touch screen, and pulling in documents instantly from the Google drive. The Jamboard and the Jamboard App on iPads also offers the ability to work as a team in the same room, across the school or even to collaborate when at home.
“The Jamboards are already in constant use - they have given us a very flexible and fast-paced environment, both physically and technologically,” says Shepherd. “Everything is cloud-based so we can access documents almost instantaneously, and we can wheel the screens around the room, plug in and get going straight away – we’re not waiting for a long boot-up process. In a space that is designed to be reworked all the time, this is crucial.”
The immediate and ongoing success of the Jamboards is also leading in unexpected directions. “BenQ was able to facilitate a relationship with Google that not only provides ongoing training, but also enables us to become the first Google Jamboard Ambassador in Education in the independent schools sector,” explains Shepherd. “This is a very exciting development which will allow other schools to follow our progress, share our experiences and inspire their own interactive learning environments.”