Last updated on Jun 21st, 2021 at 05:23 pm

Liron Segev takes a look at how children in the Netherlands are beginning their education using an iPad, when enrolling in one of the thirteen Steve Jobs Schools.

Like most people, my schooling education began with a large box of Crayola colouring pens and paper. But if you live in the Netherlands, that is considered â??old-schoolâ?, as todayâ??s education begins with an iPad.

13 Steve Jobs Schools in the Netherlands

If you live in the Netherlands, then you have the opportunity to send your child to one of 13 Steve Jobs Schools that donâ??t allow pen or paper at school, as everything is conducted on the iPad.

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The schools operate according to the principles of the O4NT foundation (Education for a New Era) where the programme aims at promoting the childâ??s individual talents and developing skills for the new tech savvy world. These skills include information processing, collaboration and developing a critical, problem-solving and creative mind.

Each child is given an iPad and has access to the virtual school

When the kids are in the physical school building, the children will move around the various â??subject roomsâ?? according to their individual schedule (we used to call it a Timetable). For example the language room, maths room, creative lab, gym or technology lab.

They also attend planned activities that they have pre-registered for. Using the iPad and the school software the children are also able to maintain their own portfolio, documenting their progress and achievements.

The unique approach of the Steve JobsSchool in the Netherlands from Steve JobsSchool on Vimeo.

Parents involved via app

Parents can follow exactly what their child has been doing during the day via a separate app.

Even the notion of school hours is challenged, and vacations will be very flexible once the O4NT method is completely implemented. Because the â??virtual schoolâ?? is available on an iPad all the time, parents are free to book their vacation at a convenient time and to determine what their childâ??s school hours will be. School and out-of-school care are seamlessly integrated.

Children are grouped by age

There are also no traditional classroom levels such as Grade 1 and Grade 2. Kids aged 4 to 7 are in one group and kids aged 8 to 12 in another.

This technological approach has a major impact on the role of the teacher

In the O4NT approach, teachers will no longer simply convey knowledge to a group of children; they will be transformed into coaches who 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 childâ??s learning speed and style.

The tools of the teaching trade

In order for these Schools to operate and achieve their goals, software apps have been developed by or in collaboration with O4NT, including:

  • sCoolSpace – a virtual schoolyard where children can meet each other and their coaches digitally. All children design their own avatar, made up from a photograph of their face and a number of special elements. A small circle below the avatar indicates whether or not they are physically present in the school building at that particular time. Students can communicate with each other via instant messaging or by video using Facetime or Skype. The kids can also display their creative work on the â??Wall of Fameâ?? which is used as an exhibition space for digital creations.

  • TikTik sCoolTool automatically keeps track of the student’s calendar, so that teachers and parents can see what their children are doing at school. It automatically logs the student’s presence when they arrive at school with their tablet and will display their schedule. Children can also create their own activities such as presentations, and invite others to attend. Students can then share their achievements with each other and with the teacher through their personal portfolio which contains the results of group projects. This means that photographs, videos, presentations and screen shots, as well as additional reports, are always available in the digital archives.

  • sCoolProjects is used to work on research projects and other assignments in small groups, supported by a coach.

  • iDesk Learning Tracker allows the teachers and parents (and publishers) to follow the results their children achieve using educational apps.

  • DigiTalenten will annually report on what the student’s digital life looks like, and what IT skills the children have mastered.

  • Symbaloo is used for sharing and distributing knowledge, within the school as well as between schools and O4NT.

By now, some parents reading this are having heart-failure, but when you see your two-year-old use your iPad way before they can read and write, you realise that todayâ??s children are adapting to technology much faster than any generation before – so surely the schooling system needs to be adapting too?

If todayâ??s kids are learning through technology, then this method of learning plays right to their strengths and will undoubtedly set them up for what the tech world has to throw at them.

This article was first published on

* Liron Segev is also known as The Techie Guy. You can read his blog at or follow him on Twitter on @Liron_Segev