Sweden seems to have taken Nolan Bushnell’s words to heart. A school system in the country wants to modernize teaching with computer integration.
A suburb of Stockholm, Sollentuna, is proposing that the public schools do away with textbooks by 2013. In their place, they want to give every student an iPad.
Maria Stockhaus, chair of Sollentuna’s children and education board, argues that schools in her municipality are in the “backwater” compared to the rest of the country according to The Local.
“The schools will take a step into the now instead of staying in the old days. Computers are as natural in schools as paper and pens, yet the fact that only every other teacher in Sweden has a computer today is completely insane,” Stockhaus said.
There has been backlash at the idea though. Sweden’s education minister Jan Björklund insists that reading books and writing by hands are still relevant, even in the far out future of 2012.
“Even in the future people will need to read and write. You can’t always have access to a computer in some places,” he told DN. “Books have an obvious place in school, and national exams are still written by hand. I predict that they will not follow through with their proposals.”
Sollentuna has already issued computers to all teachers, and plans to give tablet PCs to every student from 2nd grade onward.
The schools receiving iPads are Helenelundsskolan, Sofielundsskolan and Runbacka. Say those names three times fast.
In a bold move, Stockhaus says that students won’t be given pen and paper until they are 8-years-old. This way, students will be accustomed to touch screen technology earlier in life. She argues that this will equip students for the future.
The benefit of giving every child their own computer is more about leveling the playing field for families with different incomes.
“We know that not every student has computer access at home. These students who come from homes with tighter finances have worse grades. An even greater wedge will occur if they do not get the same digital competence as the others,” Stockhaus said.
She also claims that feedback is immediate on a computer, thus speeding up the learning process.
Another school with a name I can’t pronounce (Tegelhagsskolan) introduced PC access to all students three years ago. Their students have consistently excelled in academics since.
The initial investment will cost $2.45 million in the start up phase. The cost will increase to $3 million in 2013. It will be partially paid for by the elimination of costly textbooks.