Dutch Committee Proposes to Build Steve Jobs' iPad-Equipped Classroom

In his biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson shared a story of Jobs' meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama. Along with sharing his displeasure at the difficulty in building a factory in the United States, he also disassembled America's education system.

It was absurd, he added that American classrooms were still based on teachers standing at a board and using textbooks. All books, learning materials, and assessments should be digital and interactive, tailored to each student and providing feedback in real time.

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.


A panel of four Dutch educators and politicians is proposing to fulfill Steve Jobs' vision and create a school where students are taught with iPads. The proposal will be presented on Monday [Google Translate] in Amsterdam. The plan, called Education for a New Era, is designed to help students learn "21st century skills" and push the limits of what can be done in a classroom.

It is just a proposal for the time being, but the promoters wish to test existing educational apps and encourage more to be developed. The so-called "Steve Jobs schools" would open their doors in August 2013.

Earlier this year, Apple rolled out a digital textbook initiative. The company partnered with McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt -- the three companies together control 90% of the textbook market in the U.S. -- and is focusing on high school textbooks initially. Apple presumably wants to expand the project to include all grade levels, and eventually fulfill Jobs' vision of a digital classroom.

Top Rated Comments

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110 months ago
It's amazing that the education system has virtually been unchanged since it began. It is definitely in need of a revolution.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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110 months ago
if all the kids use it that that guy is in the picture they will have a generation of bad backs. Trust me they don't want that.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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110 months ago

how will they be able to keep them on task and off games?


Oh I don't know, maybe by disciplining the children. A rare concept I know.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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110 months ago

if all the kids use it that that guy is in the picture they will have a generation of bad backs. Trust me they don't want that.

Right. But that's how books are used today, and have been for ages. So it'll be nothing new for the iPad. If anything, the iPad, being much lighter than a textbook, can be held upright, like with the student in the background.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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110 months ago
Respectfully Disagree

...I think it is fine to have this for certain classes like biology or history however I cannot see iPads being that useful in the teaching of maths or physics!...


I think mathematics may be one of the BEST opportunities for iPad usage. The iPads can and should be used as workbooks, where children actually practice problem solving. For those kids who breeze through practice questions, the workbook could automatically create more difficult problems that test the same math skill. Meanwhile, those who struggle can get progressively easier questions or automated assistance. The teachers would be relieved of the burden of monotonous grading on this type of work, and the iPads give much more instantaneous feedback than a teacher could ever hope to achieve. All of this can reduce the need for the socially painful practice of grouping kids into levels, physically cordoning them off from peers based on talent.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
110 months ago

It's amazing that the education system has virtually been unchanged since it began. It is definitely in need of a revolution.


Honest question: why does it need a revolution? I admit, the iPad does bring a lot of advantages, but I've seen a lot of posts on MacRumors who want change only for the sake of change, not to make things better.

I work in a school district and it's not just teachers telling kids "OK, turn to page 125 in your book and read the next 10 pages," or whatever. Most, if not all, teachers have hands on projects kids do. Some stuff can't be done on iPads. Like in science class, kids learn about chemical reactions. Sure, you could have an app where you mix vinegar & baking soda and see an animated test tube fizzle. But that's not the same as having a real test tube or learning about endothermic/exothermic reactions. iPads bring many things to education but they are NOT end-all, be-all of educational tools.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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