The first seven exclusive "Steve Jobs schools" have opened their doors across a number of cities in the Netherlands. Starting from today, schools in the Dutch cities of Sneek, Breda, Almere, Emmen, Heenvliet and Amsterdam will start teaching students according to the principles of the O4NT, or Onderwijs voor een nieuwe tijd
(Education for a new era), which emphasizes the role of the iPad in an elementary school environment. The program, which was first proposed by Dutch officials back in March 2012, gives every child access to a "virtual school" through an iPad and helps them develop information and communication technology (ICT) and information processing skills, collaboration techniques and a critical, problem-solving and creative mind.
The O4NT foundation is currently in talks with a number of school boards across the Netherlands and they hope that more schools will sign up the model next year. The program has a number of benefits: apart from teaching children useful skills, school hours and vacations are a lot more flexible under the new model — as the "virtual school" is accessible round the clock, 365 days a year (although the Dutch Ministry of Education is currently preventing this scenario due to legislative restrictions) — and the ICT-based approach also has a major impact on the role of the teacher. According to O4NT's press release:
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.
O4NT is also planning an international version of the program, allowing Dutch expatriate children around the world to attend full-time education via their iPad. O4NT International, as it has been dubbed, is expected to launch in early 2014.
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