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South Korea To Move All Students To Tablets And E-books

South Korea, the world’s most wired nation, has announced that it expects to replace all paper textbooks with electronic tablets at its state-run schools by 2015.

Ever since the Kindle e-reader hopped onto the scene in 2007, the dream of completely digitalizing all educational material and cramming it into a slim and light device slowly became feasible, albeit at turtle speeds.

While schools in the U.S. are still figuring how to integrate e-books into classrooms with ongoing experiments and trials using devices like the Kindle and iPad, South Korea’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has agreed to spend $2 billion over the next several years to provide every school kid with a free tablet and digitized versions of textbooks.

Korean students at all levels are already experimenting with state schemes that are testing the practicalities.

Since spring 2008, hundreds of elementary school students have been using digital textbooks on tablet-like, foldable Fujitsu PCs, as well as Samsung’s Galaxy Tabs, and interacting with teachers online through wireless networks. South Korea has the fastest broadband connections globally, seven times the world average.

The timing couldn’t be better. Electronics giants such as Apple and Samsung have really managed to cut down on the weight and size of tablets without skimping on usability.

South Korea might be a relatively small country compared to the likes of the U.S., China or Russia, but if all goes according to plan by 2015, the years after that could see all printed textbooks become extinct in schools worldwide.

Mind you, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, so long as students aren’t playing Angry Birds when they should be practicing their algebra.

Photo Courtesy of Andreas Blixt
Photo Courtesy of cogdogblog