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Welcome to Steve Jobs School

Long gone are the days when kids began their education with some crayons and paper. LIRON SEGEV takes a look at how children in the Netherlands are beginning their education using an iPad when enrolling in one of the thirteen Steve Jobs Schools.

Like most people, my schooling education began with a large box of Crayola colouring pens and paper. But if you live in the Netherlands, that is considered so ‚”old-school‚”, as today’s education begins with an iPad.

If you live in the Netherlands, then you have the opportunity to send your child to one of thirteen Steve Jobs Schools that don’t allow pen or paper at school as everything is conducted on the iPad.

The schools operate according to the principles of the O4NT foundation (Education for a New Era) where the program aims at promoting the child’s individual talents and developing skills for the new tech savvy world. These skills include information processing, collaboration and developing a critical, problem-solving and creative mind.

Each child is given an iPad and has access to the virtual school. When the kids are in the physical school building, the children will move around the various ‚’subject rooms’ according to their individual schedule (we used to call it a Timetable). For example the language room, maths room, creative lab, gym or technology lab. They also attend planned activities that they have pre-registered for. Using the iPad and the school software the children are also able to maintain their own portfolio, documenting their progress and achievements.

Parents can follow exactly what their child has been doing during the day via a separate app.

Even the notion of school hours is challenged and vacations will be very flexible once the O4NT method is completely implemented. Because the ‚’virtual school’ is available on an iPad all the time, parents are free to book their vacation at a convenient time and to determine what their child’s school hours will be. School and out-of-school care are seamlessly integrated.

There are also no traditional classroom levels such as Grade 1 and Grade 2. Only groups of children grouped by age. Kids aged 4 7 are in one group and kids aged 8 12 in another.

This technological approach has major impact on the role of the teacher. 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.

The Tools of the Teaching Trade

In order to this School to operate and achieve its goals, software apps have been developed by or in collaboration with O4NT:

sCoolSpace is a virtual schoolyard where children can meet each other and their coaches digitally. All children design their own avatar, made up from a photograph of their face and a number of special elements. A small circle below the avatar indicates whether or not they are physically present in the school building at that particular time. Students can communicate with each other via instant messaging or by video using Facetime or Skype. The kids can also display their creative work on the ‚’Wall of Fame’ which is used as an exhibition space for digital creations.

TikTik sCoolTool automatically keeps track of the student’s calendar so that teachers and parents can see what their children are doing at school. It automatically logs the student’s presence when they arrive at school with their tablet and will display their schedule. Children can also create their own activities such as presentations and invite others to attend. Students can then share their achievements with each other and with the teacher through their personal portfolio which contains the results of group projects. This means that photographs, videos, presentations and screen shots, as well as additional reports, are always available in the digital archives.

sCoolProjects is used to work on research projects and other assignments in small groups, supported by a coach.

iDesk Learning Tracker allows the teachers and parents (and publishers) to follow the results their children achieved using educational apps.

DigiTalenten will annually report on what the student’s digital life looks like and what IT skills children have mastered.

Symbaloo is used for sharing and distributing knowledge, within the school as well as between schools and O4NT.

By now some parents reading this are having heart-failure but when you see your 2 year old use your iPad way before they can read and write, you realise that today’s children are adapting to technology much faster than any generation before so surely the schooling system needs to be adapting too. If today’s kids are learning through technology then this method of learning plays right to their strength and will undoughtidly set them up for what the tech world has to throw at them.

Malcolm Gladwell refers to to 10 000 hours in his book the Tipping Point. This is the amount of hours that someone usually has if they excel in their chosen field. This type of schooling system that identifies and nurtures the individual child’s talents will surely contribute massively to the child’s 10 000 quota of excellence.

* Liron Segev is also known as The Techie Guy. You can read his blog at or follow him on Twitter on @Liron_Segev


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