Dutch educators and politicians are proposing to fulfill Steve Jobs’ vision and create a school where students are taught with iPads. The proposal will be presented on Monday in Amsterdam. The plan, called Education for a New Era, is designed to help students learn “21st century skills” and push the limits of what can be done in a classroom.
If the proposal goes through, the “Steve Jobs schools” would open their doors in August 2013. In his biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson shared a story of Jobs’ meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama. Along with sharing his displeasure at the difficulty in building a factory in the United States, he also disassembled America’s education system.
It was absurd, he added that American classrooms were still based on teachers standing at a board and using textbooks. All books, learning materials, and assessments should be digital and interactive, tailored to each student and providing feedback in real time.
Jobs wanted to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. He wanted to make textbooks free and bundled with the iPad, and believed such a system would give states the opportunity to save money.
Earlier this year, Apple rolled out a digital textbook initiative. The company partnered with McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt — the three companies together control 90% of the textbook market in the U.S. — and is focusing on high school textbooks initially. Apple presumably wants to expand the project to include all grade levels, and eventually fulfill Jobs’ vision of a digital classroom.