The SteveJobsSchool concept – recently named as one of the most innovative schools in the world – is set to take off in South Africa, rolling out at flagship campuses in Ruimsig and in Randburg where registration is now open for 2016.
Sister SteveJobsSchools will simultaneously open their doors in Europe, Dubai and Brazil in September 2016.
For a many years, educators believed that the “assembly line” method of education was the only way to teach children. However, the world is rapidly evolving and a new era of thinking is starting a learning revolution. In 2013, seven SteveJobsSchools serving 1 000, four- to 12-year-olds opened their doors Amsterdam and Almere. Because of their focus on learning through iPads, these institutions – pioneered by market researcher and entrepreneur Maurice de Hond – became known as the SteveJobsSchools, trading locally as SteveJobsSchool Avalon.
The SteveJobsSchool model is based on every child having an Independent Learning Plan (ILP), centred on their own way of learning, their strengths, preferences and choices. In these schools, children have daily choices in what they learn and the workshops they attend. The school is available 24/7 and the Learning Plan, educational programs and educational apps can be accessed from any smart device such as an iPad or a smartphone.
Children attend 30-minute workshops on various subjects, there are no seating plans and 45% of learning takes place on an iPad which every child is given when they join. Children work on learning projects of their choice such as creating a real small business, cultivate vegetables in their own patch or take part in group projects such as building a shelter or working towards an art exhibition. Children are encouraged to choose a daily physical activity or sport coaching such as soccer, and to make time for activities like art or quiet time in the Silent Square.
The concept is supported with adaptive maths and language programmes that adjust to the child’s level, as well as child specific teacher support and workshops on a variety of topics. Teachers (or “coaches”) are linked via their devices to all students and keep track of their learning with analytics and diagnostics. They provide individual help to students who need it and monitor others who are progressing well. Children set six weekly learning goals, with the help of their parents and Core Coach.
Jenny Retief, a teacher who taught in public and private South African Schools for 15 years, adds: “Many schools try to fix the broken system by introducing tablets and other devices into schools. The ‘blended learning’ system, however, hasn’t been very successful and has been criticised for not changing anything at all, besides moving from hardcopy textbooks to device textbooks. The whole system needs to change, not just the format of the textbook. SteveJobsSchools offers a whole new approach.”
According to de Hond, children learn much better if they have choice and are interested in what they are learning. “At the SteveJobsSchool children do a lot of training in maths and languages with adaptive programmes that frees up teacher time to spend on individuals who needs it. Children follow their own learning path, which might be faster or slower than the norm and is also suited to their style of learning.”
All students in the SteveJobsSchool school receive iPads fully loaded with apps to guide this individualised learning. The aim is to encourage the children to design their own education with input and assistance from parents and teachers.