The legacy of Steve Jobs: How these tech-savvy schools could change education forever with Apple iPads

by Doug Drinkwater

July 2 2013

If you think Apple’s iPad has revolutionized education, it’s time to think again. A staggering new project in Holland will see 11 new schools use iPads to do everything from replacing physical books to even getting rid of classrooms.

It’s fair to say that iPad deployments in education are becoming increasingly common. Roll-outs have ranged from hundreds to thousands, although the L.A. Unified School District upped the game last month when it splashed out $30 million on 35,000 Apple tablets.

For all this, what has remained constant over time is how these iPads have been used. Some schools have used the iPad for teachers to concoct lesson plans; others have given iPads to students to replace physical textbooks or to help with revision.

There have even been deployments where schools have introduced iPads to teach kids to rap or to get rid of all paper.

But the iPad could yet have an even bigger role in advancing education, judging by a new report from German website Spiegel.

The source reports that 11 so-called “Steve Jobs schools” are to open in August, with each to serve approximately 1,000 students aged from 4 to 12.

These schools will vary by location and will see children come to the school without notebooks, books or even backpacks. Instead, each student will just carry an Apple iPad.

If that isn’t innovative enough then how about this for ripping up traditional learning – these schools won’t have blackboards, pens or even classrooms, while teachers won’t be required to lecture from the front of the room.

There will also be no fixed school days or school vacations, and children will even be allowed to play on their iPad if the subject doesn’t interest them.

One prospective ‘Steve Jobs school’, called Schorsmolenstraat in Breda, says that it will be open from 7.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. on each workday and children will be allowed to come and go as they please, so long as they are present during the mandatory hours of 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Teachers will rarely direct classes in groups and will instead instruct students to call up some education apps on their iPads.

Spiegel writer Marco Evers adds that education apps loaded on the iPad the will offer a “game-like experience” in which students are corrected on errors in a similar way computer players are when playing a game, and says that students won’t be required to sift through all book chapters as they’ve done in the past.

This will see the teacher’s role transform into some kind of ‘digital coach’, on-hand for assistance but also liaising with students and parents to decide learning material each six weeks.

One-to-one parent-teacher meetings will also be shelved, although parents will be relieved to learn that their children will lead a non-digital life when away from the iPad. The eleven schools will see require students to do things like drawing and physical activity.

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  • David Needle
    1 year 2 months ago
    It's interesting to consider that Steve Jobs often did whatever he wanted because of his personality, individual drive and ambition and what same would call his rebellious nature. This was certainly true during his brief time at Reed College where he pursued his own interests, not course curriculum. So what happens when you institutionalize the "freedom" to do whatever you want? I suspect many students will seek out structure and guidance, while others may 'play' all day and not really take advantage of the opportunities these schools present.

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