Steve JobsSchool - education for a new era

While children in the UK are getting ready for school in September, children from 7 schools in the Netherlands started a week ago (on the 21st of August) a different kind of school. This is a revolutionary educational concept with schools where students will have as a primary focus of all learning and activities… the iPad. This will replace the blackboards, chalk, formal classes, lesson plans, seating charts and even the parent-teacher conferences. Some of Steve Jobs' ideas are the inspiration for this model of education. It seems that he didn’t agree with US’s educational system and he wanted to make a radical change. From Macrumors we found out that:
“Steve Jobs wanted to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. He wanted to make textbooks free and bundled with the iPad, and believed such a system would give states the opportunity to save money”.
He didn’t have the chance to shape his vision, but shortly after his death, back in March 2012, a panel of Dutch educators and politicians adopted some of his ideas and created the O4NT foundation or Onderwijs voor een nieuwe tijd (Education for a new era). While aiming to provide a solid education, the O4NT’s focus is on promoting the child’s individual talent and the development of 21st-century skills (such as better capacity of processing the information, better collaborative skills and a more critical, problem-solving and creative mind). The iPad is crucial to the school’s approach as every child has access to a “virtual school” through its iPad. Steve JobsSchool - very different from the traditional school Unlike traditional schools, kids can just show up at any time between 7:30 AM and 6:30 PM on any workday, and are only required to be on-site during the core period between 10:30 AM and 3:00 PM. The building is open all day long so the kids can join each other in all sorts of activities at any time. The school gives flexibility also to the parents who can organize the child’s vacation and school hours on their schedules. Thus, the children can keep up with their schoolwork from anywhere. Both learning methods and educational content differ widely from what the traditional schools offer. Although most of the activities are done with the help of the iPad, this is not just a virtual school. Children can physically come together and join each other for educational activities, games, sports, arts and social interaction. The traditional classes have been replaced by groups of children aged 4-7 and 8-12. Students can choose to study whatever happens to interest them. This will be done at their own pace and style, in a game-like experience. In each exercise, the children are corrected the way players are in a computer game. There are no grade levels in Steve Jobs schools, only evaluations every 6 weeks. While in the physical school building, children will move around various ‘subject rooms' according to their individual schedule. What about teachers? According to O4NT's press release:
"In the O4NT approach, teachers will no longer simply convey knowledge to a group of children; they will be transformed into coaches that support children with their individual and group projects  
The “tools” of the virtual school There are a few tools which have been developed by or in collaboration with O4NT and play an important part in the participating schools. sCoolSpace- it’s quite a unique feature, a virtual schoolyard app designed for each physical school, where children can meet digitally at any time. Both students and teachers have their own avatar and can communicate via FaceTime, Skype or Messages. Throughout the school day, parents and teachers can monitor children’s movements and progress through iDesk Learning Tracker . This tool also helps coaches to compare a child’s progress against other students, or an average for children of the same age and to provide them with extra guidance if necessary. The TikTik sCoolTool is an interactive, intelligent calendar which helps with scheduling by automating events such as logging school arrival times, auto-display of the schedule for the day ahead and it also records in which room the children are working. The personal portfolio of each child with their activities is available through this app to children for individual use, to share their achievements with their colleagues, but also to teachers and parents, allowing them to take an active role in their child’s development. sCoolProjects - a tool which facilitates the student’s interaction and communication with teachers, created for individual and collective research projects. The results are recorded as video, audio, animations, eBooks or mindmaps and the finished project is added to the school project database from where the children can access it at any time for reference and inspiration. At the moment, there are 7 Steve JobSchools opened in the cities of Sneek, Breda, Almere (X2), Emmen, Heenvliet and Amsterdam but many more similar schools should be functional by August 2014. Also, an international version of the program is planned at the moment and is expected to launch in early 2014. This will allow the Dutch expatriate children around the world to attend full-time education via their iPad. Schools around the world are invited and welcomed to be part of the project. Who knows, it might not be long until this will indeed be the school of the future and a new kind of education for a new era. Although a creative and innovative project, opinions are shared. Not everyone finds the idea of an extending technological educational system structural enough or feasible. Accepting such a radical change in the educational system is for sure not easy after so many years of traditional teaching. Only the future will tell if the new project it is or not a good idea. What do you think? Will the pen, notebook and paper books soon be replaced by the iPad and other gadgets in the educational system? Share your opinion and we’ll offer you a 50% discount on an iPad screen repair with Lovefone.
May 07, 2014