South Korea recently announced plans to spend $2 billion (2.2 trillion won) on digital textbooks and supportive cloud computing systems for the nation’s schools by 2015.
In addition to the content provided by their paper counterparts, the digital textbooks boast a variety of features to augment the learning experience. For one, they can utilize audio, video, and other multimedia instead of just text and images. They can also provide a much wider breadth of resources, allowing students to browse and download textbooks on demand. They even have the capability to host online classes, giving absent children the ability to make up classes they might have missed.
It comes as no surprise that South Korea is the first to propose the switch. After all, the country was the first to provide high-speed internet access to all of its primary and secondary schools. In many schools, tablets are already an integral part of learning.
According to a ministry official: “It will be up to schools to decide which digital textbooks to choose for students in what year in what subject. We don’t expect the shift to digital textbooks to be difficult as students today are very accustomed to the digital environment.”
Free tablets will even be made available to low-income families to make sure all children receive the same benefits. While the cost may seem steep and the goals ambitious, the potential impact of this investment could signal a sea change, not only in Korean schools, but for the future of education around the world.