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Korea Mandates Digital Textbooks by 2015



In a move to push the e-book and e-reader market forward, the South Korean government will be mandated that all elementary-level educational materials be digitized by 2014 and schools to deliver textbooks and books on tablets by 2015. However, for digital books to succeed in the educational space, more work still needs to be done to improve the user experience on digital devices like e-reader, tablets, computers, and smartphones.

According to Technology Review, the proposal will result in the government spending $2.4 billion in the necessary tablet hardware for the classroom as well as for the efforts to digitize the books.

Though the government has not announced what hardware(s), platform(s), format(s), or standard(s) will be supported for its educational initiative, it is speculated that home-grown manufacturers like Samsung, and potentially LG, may be favored over foreign tablets, like U.S.-based Apple’s iPad.

At this point, it’s also not known how the distribution system for textbooks will work. Samsung already has its own digital hub for novels and regular books, and it’s unclear if there will be a unified textbook store operated by one or more entities, or if there will be multiple stores on multiple apps. If there are different apps, stores, and formats, it’s also unclear how books and notes will sync between different hardware and platforms.

However, for education to go digital, more work will need to be done to either create the appropriate hardware to enable digital learning or to re-vamp the software for use on existing tablet hardware, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

For now, there are several issues with electronic books when used for academic purposes. First, there is the issue of page synchronization. As fonts, text size, and screen size will all affect the pagination of books, it will be difficult for teachers and peers to say ‘reference page 132,’ for example. Second, there has to be an easy way for notes to be easily exported, shared, and saved. Right now, on Amazon’s Kindle, if Amazon delivers a revised version of a book, user-generated annotations and notes are lost. And third, it’s still too early to tell if inking will be deemed a necessary component to a digital classroom. As students grow up on writing in margins and scribbling notes for themselves in books, the paradigm shift from physical books to an environment fostered by digital learning will need more evaluation.

So far, limited trials of Kindle, iPad, and smartphones as e-readers in U.S. schools and institutions have been met with mixed results.

Via: SlashGear



  1. Jill Duffy

    07/05/2011 at 2:01 pm

    I’m confused as to why pagination reference would be a problem. Digital documents support tables of contents with links and anchor text. You can also just search for a word or phrase in a digital document, which would bring you right to the point being referenced by another person. I’d argue that it’s easier, not harder, for students on a digital platform to stay in synch with the instructor.

  2. Mladen Mijatov

    07/05/2011 at 2:11 pm

    Going for Android in this case, in my opinion, would be more logical because application could work across many devices. Developing application for iOS alone would lock them into buying Apple products only and we all know what lack of competition does. Of course country can always make its own brand of specialized devices and opening new jobs along the way.

    Am really glad to see at least some countries pushing for better and technological tomorrow.

  3. Tim McLay

    06/21/2015 at 6:16 am

    The ability for digital textbooks to harness the power of the internet offers unprecedented opportunity to provide everyone with affordable access to knowledge. Annotate, bookmark, share and search on our platform. Check out the prices and encourage more authors to publish with

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