Steve Jobs’ dream of iPad schools could become reality in the Netherlands

23 March, 2012 - Killian Bell
iPad textbook

Steve Jobs managed to revolutionise a number of industries during his time as Apple CEO, including computers, mobile phones, tablets, and personal media players. But he had another on his list that, unfortunately, he didn’t quite get around to dealing with.

And no, we’re not talking about the widely rumoured Apple TV, either. We’re talking about schools.

Steve told his biographer, Walter Isaacson, that he didn’t like the way in which U.S. schools were still run, and he felt that his company’s hugely popular iPad was the way forward. He recalled a meeting with President Barrack Obama during which he picked apart the American 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.”

Steve wanted to make that dream a reality by hiring writers who could create digital, interactive textbooks for the iPad. He then wanted to make those free, and he wanted to bundle them with the device when they were purchased for or by students. While it may cost schools a lot initially to adopt the device, in the long run, Steve felt, it would save them a lot of money.

A group of four Dutch educators and politicians is now proposing to make Steve’s dream a reality. They have a plan, entitled “Education for a New Era,” to build a school in which students will learn “21st century skills” with the help of iPads.

By testing existing education apps and encouraging developers to build more, the group is hoping to push the boundaries and limits of what can currently be achieved in the classroom. Their proposal will be presented on Monday in Amsterdam, and if it’s given the go-ahead, their so-called “Steve Jobs schools” will begin rolling out in August 2013 in the Netherlands where Apple’s new iPad launched today.

It’s unlikely that the Dutch committee will be the last to build schools that teach with iPads, either. Apple kicked off its digital textbook initiative earlier this year, having partnered with McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to bring interactive textbooks to the App Store for use on the iPad. Together, according to MacRumors, those three companies control 90% of the textbook market in the U.S.

Do you think that the iPad should be used in schools?

About the author

Killian Bell is a freelance journalist based in Worcestershire UK. In addition to writing about all things Apple, he's one of the co-founders of the football site TitleTalk. You can follow him on and Twitter.