Steve Jobs Schools
Earlier this week I read in the Dutch financial paper that the Netherlands now have 25 Steve Jobs schools. Curious as I am, I wanted to know what the fancy sounding Steve Jobs schools where. I found out that this are (unsurprisingly) elementary schools that extensively make use of iPads.
A Dutch man, Maurice de Hond, developed a business idea and software based on this concept and is trying to export it to other countries. The paper says Mr. de Hond claims it is a very profitable concept, but the article reads with a bit of a sarcastic undertone. Schools would pay hundreds of euros per student for software which would make the education of the children more individualized and evolved around the use of iPads by both children and teachers. A similar US concept is Altschool, which propagates the use of modern technology (not iPads particularly) in education as well.
I can see how children could gain from becoming more familiar and comfortable with using technology. The US National Educational Technology Standards give a good idea of knowledge and skills that children should be developing in their early years. On their website they say that maybe it is time to rethink education. New ways to educate children have to be developed to prepare them for a still unimaginable future. Education must not only adapt to technological changes but must be innovative. Innovating education goes far beyond just learning how to use new tools such as iPads. Incorporating modern attributes in the classroom should be a new look on how we teach, communicate, learn and work.
Such a foundational change is never easy to achieve. There have been teachers that enounced their concerns, as they fear children will miss out on key (social) experiences when technology infiltrate the schools (Murphy et. al., 2003). Basics can be forgotten, such as reading an actual book or having real life conversations. Thereby, the world wide web includes a lot of information that is inappropriate for a child’s eye. Having an iPad can make other materials seem redundant.
On the other hand, studies have provided compelling evidence that computer use can have a major positive impact on children’s social, emotional, language and cognitive development. The use of technology can reinforce critical skills, such as information gathering, evaluating, analyzing and presenting skills (Kenney, 2011). An example of using technology in education that makes the students obtain multiple skills may be that children look up the weather in different countries in different languages on their iPad. They can make use of the iPad to present their finding.
I’m an advocate of striving for the best and preparing your children to live in the grown up world and if technology is a well-integrated part of the daily teaching routine, it is beneficial for both student and teacher. Basics such as reading a book and human interactions should be maintained. Though, in my opinion, it should not specifically be based on a “special” software that is mainly just very expensive.
R.L. de Vries
Murphy, K., DePasquale, R., & E, M. (2003, November). Meaningful Connections, Using Technology in Primary Classrooms. Beyond the Journal, NAEYC.
Kenney, L. (2011). Elementary education, there’s an APP for that: Communication
technology in the elementary classroom. The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in
Communications, 2, 67-75.