‘Virtual’ iPad-only schools open in the Netherlands

Many experts have pointed to a tablet revolution being on the horizon. These devices could be on the verge of "killing the laptop" and while it is easy to see how the devices are changing the way businesses operate, a dramatic facelift has yet to occur. However, that could be changing.

While many educational institutions—like Lynn University, which we reported on last week—have implemented a tablet-based system, the O4NT Foundation is taking things to a new level. This week, the group has opened the first seven iPad-exclusive "Steve Jobs schools" in the Netherlands.

The program has been in the works since March of last year, and it provides every student with access to a "virtual school" through an iPad. It will help students develop communication technology and information processing skills, collaboration techniques and critical problem-solving and creative thinking.

Because it is held in a virtual environment, there are a number of specific benefits to the program. School hours and vacation time is much more flexible as the programs can be accessed at any time, although there are currently legislative restrictions blocking that from the Dutch Ministry of Education.

A number of applications have been developed specifically for the program that keep students on track, provide group research projects. and allow parents and teachers to monitor progress. This is being done to push the future of learning with an iPad.

The role of teachers is also experiencing a shift.

"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," the press release said. "Because educational apps are used for basic skills, the learning process can be completely adapted to the individual child's learning speed and style."

The foundation is currently in talks to expand the program to more schools across the country. It is also planning an international version which will allow Dutch children around the world access to full-time education through their iPads.

This would be a monumental feather in the cap of those who have vouched for mobile devices. If an entire country can start shifting its education system to a virtual system based around the iPad, who won't think about following? An IT consulting firm that specializes in mobile devices can help any organization start this by leading an iPad deployment.