Siri, the latest pupil at seven new Dutch schools

Education and technology are two very different fields, but one thing is certain, you can’t have one without the other. The fundamental need for technology to drive education and for the education system to drive the technological world has allowed for some great advancement in schools, colleges and universities, allowing more and more pupils to use laptops and tablets in class and providing hundreds of computers across tens of suites to allow the research and write up of assignments.

Now, with a little help from Apple, seven new “Steve Jobs schools” have opened in the Netherlands. Offering an iPad to every pupil, the rigidity of a normal school day is gone and a more free approach to education is provided.

What does this mean though? Let’s break this down a little, shall we?

  • The traditional text book is no more. The iPad replaces the book.
  • Pupils, from the age of four, will be allowed to choose what to learn and when to learn it.
  • Apps such as the “TikTik sCoolTool” scheduling app, and the virtual shoolyard “sCoolSpace” allow pupils to keep a track of their timetable or communicate with other pupils in the digital realm.
  • The schools will be open from 7:30am to 6:30pm, giving flexibility to when you attend.
  • The holiday timetable is gone as well, meaning that parents can now book that vacation in the off season, without disrupting their child’s education.
  • Teachers will be known as coaches, providing support and advice, rather than just bellowing course material from government sanctioned curriculum.

The Education for a New Era foundation (ON4T) is the group behind the schools. In a press release, they said:

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. Because educational apps are used for basic skills, the learning process can be completely adapted to the individual child’s learning speed and style.

And pupils won’t be tied to iPads all day. They can register for activities through the provided apps that will take them out of the classroom environment. They can also visit other “subject rooms” such as the math room, the gym or the technology lab.

A complete digital record of a pupil’s school life will be made, allowing the ON4T to refine the programs methodology for future implementations, and parents are able to monitor their childs progress thanks to the "iDesk Learning Tracker."

Although, in what sounds almost contradictory, the Dutch education ministry are watching the schools closely, ensuring they stick to the national curriculum and attendance requirements.

All this is very well and good, but giving children the choice of what and when they learn can, and almost certainly will, have disastrous results. Have any of our reader’s children? Have you ever tried to get them to make a sound and reasonable choice? Sometimes doesn’t happen, does it?!

Source: Dutch News | Image courtesy of ON4T

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