Bretford Introduces Learning Commons Resource Center

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Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has introduced Learning Commons, a new section on the Bretford.com website that contains a compilation of education resources and expertise for customers and partners.

Part of Learning Commons includes BretfordUniversity's (BretfordU) enhanced six-part fall/winter webinar series focusing on agile learning spaces, which includes a discussion panel and actual case study on the topic. The first webinar event, "Bringing Agility Into the Classroom," will take place on September 27 and feature input from Mark Silver, Head of School at Hillbrook School, an independent, coeducational JK-8 day school, in Los Gatos, CA, and Eric Boatman, assistant director of facilities planning and space management at Michigan State University.

Learning Commons is divided into five key areas to help customers and partners easily navigate the new section:

·Resources: Research data and resources like articles, interactive white papers, book references and videos.
·Community: Features a weekly blog topic and the ability for customers and partners to ask questions and post comments with relevant content shared through the Bretford Twitter and Facebook pages.
·Professional Development: Includes BretfordU online and live webinars and other events, along with Continuing Education Unit courses for architects and designers.
·Referrals. Houses all case studies, references and testimonials.
·Experts: Bios and contact information for the experts contributing to the BretfordU webinars, blog topics, research and other sections.

"Our customers and partners need data, real examples and a forum to ask the experts questions in order to be able to implement some of the latest concepts in education, like social and agile learning - it's critical for them to hear about what others are doing in order to visualize how it might work for them," said Cindy Weinschreider, director of marketing communications for Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. "Learning Commons includes a wealth of in-depth resources to support these concepts, while our latest webinar series provides the opportunity for a deeper understanding on a specific topic with the unique opportunity for live interaction with experts in the field who are talking about true applications currently out there."

The first BretfordU webinar, "Bringing Agility to the Classroom" discusses how the pace and magnitude of change brought by rapidly advancing technologies can seem daunting. Accommodating that change requires schools to think differently about how they teach and where and how learning occurs. This webinar examines the strategic and tactical questions and issues involved with bringing agility to learning spaces. During the webinar, Head of Hillbrook School Mark Silver will discuss a new experimental learning space in the school called the iLab. 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.

"At Hillbrook, we have tried to balance the need for community-wide, long-range planning with a willingness to pilot programs that seem like they make sense, such as our introduction of 1:1 iPads in early 2010," said Silver. "One of our school's core values is to take risks, and we are mindful of the importance of modeling that as a school. At the same time, we are always cognizant of the need to manage change and to strive to find the balance between moving too fast and overwhelming people and moving too slowly and failing to provide the best educational program possible. It is an art, not a science, and I think you always need to be ready to pivot and adapt based on the needs of the students, the faculty, and the community."

Eric Boatman of Michigan State University will also participate in the webinar. "For the last 20 years, I've been focusing on higher education facilities planning, both as an administrator and a consultant," said Boatman. "The relationship between the physical environment and organizational performance is fascinating and can make all the difference in creating more effective leaning spaces. I look forward to talking with webinar participants about ways that they can make their learning spaces more agile."

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