South Korea to Convert to Digital Textbooks by 2015
South Korea Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology announced that the country is planning on making a transition to digital textbooks using tablet PCs. ALL textbooks for ALL grades and ALL classes will be converted to digital format. Tablet PCs (model not specified) will be used to run these textbooks via cloud storage system. They also added that school buildings will get Wi-Fi, which is essential if they are incorporating cloud storage. During the transition process, both digital and paper textbooks will be used.
There are some prerequisite systems before this can come true. First of all, if they want to incorporate cloud system, ridiculous amount of bandwidth and humungous server must be prepared. I'm sure they can get it ready. Although surprisingly un-universal in software field, South Korea hosts one of the world's finest high-speed internet. Especially in the capital, Seoul, state-of-the-art internet speed and Wi-Fi availability runs through the city. It won't be very difficult to install necessary hardwares.
The tablet used will most likely be Galaxy Tab, or something new that Samsung develops. Personally, I would think that looking at a textbook on a 7" screen is way too eye-straining. Something bigger would suit students better.
Personally, I am all for digital textbooks. After reading magazines, books, and other publications on the iPad, I certainly believe that interactive contents embedded in these publications, especially magazines, are effective way of communication. Textbooks filled with movies, animations, and other interactive features? Oh yes, I won't sleep in class anymore!
Along with that, the Ministry is planning on creating online lectures for certain subject, a already widely popular concept for private educational institutions, and distribute that for students in special circumstances who cannot attend school. Students on long term or short term medical leave or with family emergencies will receive appropriate hours of attendance if they watch the lecture. If that was available when I was young, I'd never gone to school! Of course, there will be necessary restrictions that apply to this, I'm sure, but just the idea gets me excited!
It's really wonderful to see South Korea take advantage of its strength, hardware and bandwidth, to improve its weakness, software availability and compatibility. Hopefully, the final product will be an example for other countries because digitized textbooks will be ubiquitous thing in the future.