South Korea to move all students to tablets and e-books

4 Jul 2011

South Korea’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is to invest US$2bn to move all school students to digital textbooks and tablet PCs by 2015.

It is understood that the digital textbooks will contain the contents of ordinary textbooks and various multimedia resources. The tablet computer will be issued free to students and the ability to access textbooks in the same fashion as downloading an e-book from Amazon should prove helpful to parents who struggle with the costs of schoolbooks each year.

Other countries, including Ireland, would be wise to study this model closely as it would diminish any digital divide in society and enable a technology in education strategy that could be flexible enough to change as technology evolves.

The South Korean government is also creating a cloud network for all schools, whereby students will be able to access a database of all digital textbooks and download them to their tablet devices via Wi-Fi networks in the schools.

“It will be up to schools to decide which digital textbooks to choose for students in what year in what subject,” said a ministry official, quoted in Korean newspaper The Chosunilbo.

“We don’t expect the shift to digital textbooks to be difficult as students today are very accustomed to the digital environment.”

The Korean government is also driving towards online classes for certain subjects that would allow students who have missed classes to catch up.

Under the scheme, those students will get their online hours recognised as attendance. This would be particularly useful and beneficial for students who may have had to spend time in hospital.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years