Though we haven’t seen many laptops or tablets tackle textbooks in the U.S. yet, South Korea isn’t waiting for consumers. The country’s Ministry of Science and Technology has announced that it will digitize its entire elementary-level educational textbooks and materials by 2014. Topping that goal, the entire school-age curriculum will be available on computers, smartphones, and tablets by by 2015. To make this happen, the country will spend 2.2 trillion won ($2.06 billion), reports the Straits Times Indonesia.
In addition, the ministry is pushing for online classes to be available so that students who miss classes can catch up. Online hours will be recognized as attendance under some circumstances.
“Korean students have ranked first in terms of digital literacy among developed nations according to the OECD-run Program for International Student Assessment,” said an official from the Education Ministry. “That’s why Korean students, who are already fully prepared for digital society, need a paradigm shift in education.”
There is no word on precisely which digital devices South Korea will buy for its students, but hopefully they will be closer to an iPad in terms of functionality. We don’t want these kids getting stuck with the tablet equivalent of a Betamax. And speaking of outdated technology, a few lawmakers here in the United States should take notice. While South Korea moves toward e-textbooks and online learning, many of our classrooms still have to rent a VHS player from down the hall to watch a movie, and a lack of technology is the least of our problems.
Technology Review guesses that Samsung, being a South Korean company, may provide the electronics. We will be mighty jealous if every South Korean student gets a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. On the other hand, if this money goes toward more robot teachers, we’ll probably be okay.