LA Unified recently became one of the biggest school districts to buy iPads (s aapl) for all 30,000 students as additional learning aids for its traditional teacher-led classrooms. But a new series of schools being set up in the Netherlands is taking an even bigger leap forward: it’s going to be an iPad-only learning environment.
That’s right: there will be no paper notebooks or books or laptops or chalkboards or whiteboards. The 11-campus “Steve Jobs school” system, as profiled in Spiegel Online, is nontraditional in many other ways too. And one of the school’s principals thinks that by 2020, this won’t sound weird at all:
The Steve Jobs school will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 [p.m.] on every workday. The children will come and go as they please, as long as they are present during the core period between 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. The building will only be closed for Christmas and New Year’s. The children’s families will be able to go on vacation when they please, and no child will have to be worried about missing class as a result, since classes in the traditional sense will be nonexistent.
Only in exceptional cases will a teacher direct classes in groups. Normally, the children will learn by calling up a learning app on their iPad — which will be turned into a sort of interactive, multimedia schoolbook — whenever they want.
The iPads are basically replacing both teachers and the physical classroom. And their constant connection to the web, allowing students to turn in school work and receive assignments at any hour of the day, means school never ends, really.
That might sound terrifying to some elementary and high school students now. But it might better prepare them for the future of higher education — where massive, online remote courses are gaining traction on college campuses. It’s also the current reality of many of today’s workplaces, where smartphones — depending on how you look at it — keep employees tethered to their job even after they’ve left the office or allow them to get work done remotely.
These futuristic Dutch learning facilities are being described as the ultimate “Steve Jobs school” because of the Apple co-founder’s professed dream of the post-PC world and his particular emphasis on education. But his namesake school might even be taking it a bit further than even Jobs imagined: after all, in his post-PC dream world, PCs still existed, they just were relegated to very specific tasks.