A month after the educational concept of schools based on the iPad was first unveiled, the first seven ‘Steve JobsSchools’ have opened in the Netherlands. The Apple iPad is central to the groundbreaking educational effort, creating a “virtual school” with standard iOS apps tailored to meet the needs of students, parents and teachers.
While two of the schools expect to see the iPad replace text books, school schedules and traditional courses for all grades, the majority will initially start with early learners, according to the foundation promoting the effort…
The Netherlands towns involved in the initial phase of the project are: Amsterdam, Sneek, Breda, Almere, Emmen and Heenvliet, according to The Education for a New Era Foundation (O4NT).
The O4NT, which developed the guiding educational principles behind the schools, hopes to have at least twelve Steve JobsSchools open by the end of 2013 with O4NT International offering the curriculum to all Dutch-speaking students in early 2014.
The schools offer what O4NT claims is a “one-on-one student-iPad ratio” for attaining the 58 core goals established by the Dutch Ministry of Education. The iPad-centric education is more efficient because “schools are able to adapt to the needs of individual students rather than tailor lessons for the group,” writes AppleInsider.
Much of the interaction beyond the iPad is done with parents and teachers, the latter described as “coaches” because they support students instead of stand in front of the class, giving lessons.
A central app used in the schools is the sCoolSpace, which acts as a combination virtual schoolyard and Facebook social network. Instead of hanging out by the lockers or chasing other students, children digitally meet and communicate.
Special avatars allow Teacher “coaches” and students to use FaceTime, Skype or iMessage to interact. Coaches and parents can track a student’s progress and adjust the curriculum.
Here, check out this promo clip.
Other apps such as iDesk Learning Tracker seem the perfect tool for helicopter parents. Not only can parents and teachers check to see that Johnny or Susie is spending enough time in educational apps, but they can also tell how well they are performing scholastically against the rest of the class.
Finally, the iPad’s Calendar app is customized to create the “TikTiK sCoolTool,” letting parents better schedule family events around a student’s schedule and permitting students to know what the next day holds at the Steve JobsSchool.
Perhaps most unnerving, in an age when you don’t want all information about your kids revealed, is program’s ability to both record and then share everything about the students involved: grades, their location, their next day’s schedule, planned trips, etc.
While this level of personal information is likely secured behind some form of encryption, the store of data is a ripe target for malicious hackers.