What would your classroom look like if it were entirely technology centric?

Most of us might come up with something that looks pretty similar to our current classrooms, just with less books and more computers and other devices. But educators and administrators in the Netherlands expanded upon this idea, and have created new schools which are completely iPad centric.

Last week, the first seven of these so-called “Steve Jobs Schools” opened in the Netherlands. So what’s the real deal with these schools? Do they really have an entirely iPad focused curriculum? How does that even work?

An iPad Focused Curriculum

Many of us would probably use the term ‘curriculum’ pretty loosely, but these schools are setting about to transform education, so keep that in mind before you judge! According to Der Spiegel, the classrooms are pretty revolutionary.

What’s Missing

Many of the staples of the classrooms that we knew as children aren’t a part of these schools. There will be no:

  • Classrooms
  • Formal Classes
  • Lesson Plans
  • Pens and Paper
  • Chalk and Chalkboards
  • Schedules
  • Grades
  • Fixed school vacations

A New Concept of School

In these new schools, the traditionally ultra-scheduled school day is a thing of the past. The schools will be open every weekday from 7:30 am to 6:30 pm. As long as the students are there from 10:30 am to 3pm, they can otherwise come and go as they please. While the school will close on Christmas and New Year, families can otherwise decide when they want to go on vacation, since their students won’t be missing any classes in the traditional sense.

Students can continue their learning at home, since the apps on their iPads will be available to them at home as well. Rather than following a specific curriculum that is applied to all students of a particular grade and age level, a personalised learning plan is developed collaboratively between the teachers, parents, and student. The learning plan is reviewed every six weeks with all involved parties chiming in. At least in theory, the days of some students being bored because the teacher is moving through the material too slowly and others struggling to keep up – are gone. Each student can develop their own natural talents, foster their independence, and generally be more creative.

Since there are no ‘set hours’ for all students to be in the schools and no formal classes, the education minister is looking to see if these new schools can be exempt from the requirement for students to spend a certain number of hours in school. Though teachers will occasionally direct a class in groups, students will most often learn via apps, with the teachers functioning more as facilitators and helpers than as the main source of information in the classroom.

Since nearly all of the student’s work will be happening on the iPad, it offers an easy way for parents and teachers to carefully monitor what the student is doing and their progress. The parents and teacher can intervene as necessary.