South Korea Schools Going Totally Digital


South Korea announced earlier this month that it plans to spend over $2 billion developing digital textbooks, replacing paper in all of its schools by 2015. Students would access paper-free learning materials from a cloud-based system, supplementing traditional content with multimedia on school-supplied tablets. The system would also enable homebound students to catch up on work remotely.

The Chosunilbo reports that the digital textbooks will contain the contents of ordinary textbooks and various reference resources 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.

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.

Is Going Digital A Good Idea For South Korea?

If all-digital is going to work anywhere, South Korea seems like a good candidate.

From Education Week:

South Korea is one of the most wired places on earth. More than 80 percent of South Korean households have broadband access to the Internet, according to the statistical office here. U.S. Web hosting company Akamai said earlier this year that South Korea enjoys the fastest Internet connection in the world.

In addition, a 2009 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-headquartered grouping of wealthy nations, found 15-year-olds in South Korea scored highest in their ability to absorb information from digital devices, beating runners-up New Zealand and Australia by a large margin.
At Sosu Elementary School in Goesan, principal Jo Yong-deuk speaks of a future in which his students interact in virtual reality with Ludwig van Beethoven and Abraham Lincoln. In the classroom, the children scribble answers in their tablet PCs with touchscreen pens as they watch the video clip explaining the scientific properties of frozen water.

“I liked this chapter, but my favorite clip is one where they show how flowers blossom and trees bear fruit in spring,” 11-year-old Jeong Ho-seok said with a wide grin.

South Korea Consistently Ranks At The Top

It’s also true that South Korea consistently ranks one of the highest for educational achievement in the world. Still, however ready the students are for this technology, it’s important that the teachers get the training they need. There are numerous research projects in the U.S. documenting the huge amounts of money wasted when new technology is introduced into schools, but teachers aren’t trained in its use.

Making iPads Mandatory

I’ll soon find out firsthand how well this works, as the high school where I teach is making iPads optional for students this year, but mandatory for all in the 2012-13  school year. And I have to say that this move is making all of us a bit nervous.
Perhaps I’ll be turning to South Korea to get great classroom-usage tips!

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Photo Credit: aperutismo via Creative Commons


g             d c.
g d c5 years ago


Seledi M.
Seledi M6 years ago

saves paper but im sure there will be the lost of many other things

KrassiAWAY B.
Krasimira B6 years ago

Agree with Karen D.

Danny Wilson
Danny Wilson6 years ago

The whole process of getting your ideas etc. doesn't change just because the medium does, but you can't beat holding a book in your hands, smelling the pages, making a new friend....

Barbara Brown
Barbara B6 years ago

This new modern techy crap has gone way to far. It's going to be our own downfall one day. Hell, our children don't even know how to add 2 2 without a calculator in their hands. The only thing they may know how to do is spell their name. They don't write cursive anymore, they print if they "HAVE TO" write it down. Their allowed to use this ipad and calculators to get all the answers and NOT USE THEIR OWN BRAINS!!!! Wheres the education in that? And yet, thats the 1st thing on the school list of what that child will need for starting the school year. Geeze Louise!! Our children walk around with their pants hanging off their ass and the girls wears little or nothing at all, tight as tight can be. This is suppose to be acceptable??? Where in the hell are the parents of these kids? Oh, I know where they are, walking around with their underwear showing and the mothers wearing tube tops to the grocery store and skirts up to their yeng yang!! MORALS PEOPLE-ITS CALLED MORALS and RESPECT FOR YOURSELF!!! The teachers need to step it up too. Stop taking the easy road and start teaching the BACK TO BASICS....READING, WRITING, and ARITHMETIC in case you forgot!!! All this from 1 pissed off parent at todays idiotic society we all live in.

Kaitlin Carney
Kaitlin Carney6 years ago

Make ipads required in a public school? How are low income students going to afford that? I am a low income college student and I definitely can't afford an ipad or laptop, any course or school that requires them is out pricing themselves for me. I can't even afford traditional text books, they are well over $100 each, with each course requiring 1-4 texts, and taking 3-4 courses per term. It's ridiculous to have to spend up to $1600 or more just for textbooks on top of tuition. I have to use the library or if there are materials in resource centers at my college. There should be a cap for how expensive a course's materials can be on top of the price for the tuition.

KAREN L6 years ago

It might help to save the forests....but nobody will any longer be able to write!

Noel S.
Noel S.6 years ago

Brenda T, Magdalen B & Joy M - you all SO right.
By whatever means, knowledge should be spread . And skills transferred.

Has any else noticed that your merely six month old Cellphone/Laptop/Game is already almost Passe / Old Hat?
It's called ' Planned Obsolescence ' in order to make you update so regularly & give nice big profits to the Hard & Software companies. Don't get suckered.

Claire M.
Claire M6 years ago

At some point we are going to wake up and find out selves in 2nd world status compared to many other countries. The reason is simply we allow those who already have power and make the most profit to take steps that should be illegal to protect their own legacy and push honest progressive thinking backward, all while calling them selves progressive.

Brenda Towers
Brenda T6 years ago

I have very mixed feelings about making this the only method used for teaching. Children should be encouraged to read books and write by hand. These are skills that should never die out. Electronic items break and there are powercuts etc. to contend with. The people who are making these changes already have these skills. Now they are about to deprive the next generation of them!!