The Montessori method of teaching relies heavily on natural materials. One of the first things people notice about our classrooms, for example, is the abundance of activities involving wood. And so it made sense that as we duplicated the Montessori experience in digital form, the materials presented looked the same way. On an iPhone or iPad, the experience we offered children was largely rooted in the real world.
The introduction of iOS7–a new operating system that removes ties to the physical world in many ways–has changed everything. It’s more transparent, noticeably lighter, and seemingly faster.
We desire the same traits in a digital Montessori education. And that’s led to a rethinking of the aesthetic that is so thoroughly dependent on woodgrain–and all its shadows and textures that are now relics of Apple’s previous operating system. The new version forced us to seriously consider how our apps would look and feel, and how children would engage with them. As we’ve changed to reflect this, the question becomes, will children still interact with the digital material as they do the physical one when it isn’t grounded in their real-world experience?