South Korea’s Education Ministry has announced it wants all school age level educational materials to be delivered in a digitized format by 2015. It hopes that by 2014 all elementary level materials will be read on a variety of computers, smart phones, and tablets. No specific equipment choices have been made, but the Ministry did announce it will spend up to 2.4 billion buying the necessary tablets, software, and digitizing the necessary school curriculum.
Some Korean schools already are using electronic textbooks via notebook computers and tablets. However, it is very unlikely that the South Korean government would pick the Apple iPad as its tablet of choice. It is much more likely to pick tablets manufactured by South Korean electronics manufacturing company, Samsung. This could be a very nice windfall for Samsung and its Galaxy tablet or some variant.
Why would the Galaxy need modification? The folks who brought us the Kno Tablet did lots of research on students that buy textbooks online or hope to rent textbooks online, whether digital or otherwise, instead of purchasing a printed textbook.
What a student needs, according to Kno’s research, is something that faithfully reproduces a full-size textbook, without compromise. In contrast, the attempt to cram a textbook onto a smaller screen is a primary reason that previous trials with replacing textbooks with tablets and e-readers such as the Kindle DX have been abject failures.
This move will be watched by governments and manufacturers worldwide as everyone is wondering about the future of electronic textbooks. It also awakens the argument about whether students learn better from printed or digital textbooks. Another reason digital textbooks have not taken off in the United States is the cost when compared to buying a cheap used textbook online or renting college textbooks online. The initial cost is still much higher, but currently their is no cash sell back value for electronic textbooks, nor can they be transferred. Now that Kno has given up on hardware manufacture and is now focused on a software solution for cheap textbooks and trying the novel “Words to Friends” approach we detailed about a month ago.