Schools Face Transition to Digital Textbooks

Schoolchildren may soon be using digital textbooks after the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology announced Wednesday it will invest W2.2 trillion by 2015 to create an environment where students can study using better and more interactive content anytime and anywhere (US$1=W1,077).

The ministry wants to develop digital textbooks for all subjects and all schools. In the early stage of transition, both paperback and digital textbooks will be used.

The digital textbooks will contain the contents of ordinary textbooks and various reference resources such as multimedia and FAQs to help students understand the materials better. The government also wants to build a cloud computing system in all schools, so that users can access a database of all digital textbooks and choose what they want from their tablet PCs.

Students read textbooks on laptop PCs at Guil Elementary School in Seoul on Wednesday. /Yonhap Students read textbooks on laptop PCs at Guil Elementary School in Seoul on Wednesday. /Yonhap

This will require a massive server where all digital textbooks will be deposited to be set up at the Korea Education and Research Information Service as well as wifi networks in schools. The ministry plans to provide free tablet PCs for students from low-income families. "It will be up to schools to decide which digital textbooks to choose for students in what year in what subject," a ministry official said. "We don't expect the shift to digital textbooks to be difficult as students today are very accustomed to the digital environment."

The ministry also wants to push for online classes for some subjects that would allow students who have to miss classes to catch up. Those students will get their online hours recognized as attendance. Also under consideration is a plan to allow students who need long-term hospital care due to serious illness to substitute classes online.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jun. 30, 2011 13:15 KST

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