How are school teachers and administrators dealing with the preponderance of handheld devices used by their students? Since many students would like to use their devices in school, many school systems are developing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies about bringing one’s own device to school to use in the classroom. The BYOD situation presents many issues such as cross-operating system compatibilities, compatibility with software, hardware, security issues, network issues and so forth. Some students simply can’t afford the devices and some can afford better devices than others. Some schools dole out handheld devices such as laptops and tablets on carts for a period or two, with limited ability for the students because there are only so many to go around. One solution for these issues can be found developing in the Netherlands.
Starting in August 2013, 11 schools will open in the Netherlands based on Steve Jobs’ vision of transforming education using the iPad. Approximately 1,000 children from 4to 12 years old will attend the schools, without notebooks, books or backpacks. Each of them, however, will have his or her own iPad. There will be no blackboards, chalk or classrooms, homeroom teachers, formal classes, lesson plans, seating charts, pens, teachers teaching from the front of the room, schedules, parent-teacher meetings, grades, recess bells, fixed school days and school vacations. If a child would rather play on his or her iPad instead of learning, it will be okay. And the children will choose what they wish to learn based on what they happen to be curious about. For proponents of Constructivist education also known as student centered learning, this is just the type of learning program that fits their ideology. Many school systems in the US are embracing and attempting to implement Constructivism as well as designing a technology infused curriculum. Educators in the Netherlands, by way of Steve Jobs’ vision, may have found the solution.
Like the Constructivist model of individualized instruction, students will learn at their own pace by using iPad apps, with teachers serving as coaches to help them reach goals and advance to subsequent levels. Teachers, children, and parents meet to discuss goals for each six-week period, setting up standards to help students gain the knowledge and skills to move on to the next level. The schools will be open from 7:30 AM to 6:30 PM every day of the year except Christmas and New Year’s Day, with children free to come and go as they please as long as they are present during the core school day that runs from 10:30 AM to 3:00 PM.
This is far from an experiment and can be viewed as an all-out movement, as Dutch researcher Maurice de Hond, the man behind the initiative, believes that the number of schools should grow to at least forty next year, with the schools being publicly funded and open to all children and subsidies available to families unable to afford an iPad. Will this be playing soon in a school system near me? Let’s hope so.