South Korean schools to get tablets instead of textbooks by 2015

Four years from now, South Korea will have solved the largest issue to plague educational institutions and students since the beginning of time: hunchbacks. Embracing tablets, its government plans to completely replace heavy paper textbooks with tablets and e-book in every single school 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.

With tablets, students will be able to interact with their reading materials like never before. Where one laptop per child in the classroom might have saw little success due to the clunky nature of laptop devices, powerful tablets capable of displaying rich multimedia should see a higher success rate in schools, just because holding it is like holding a book. It feels natural and comfortable.

"We don't expect the shift to digital textbooks to be difficult as students today are very accustomed to the digital environment," said a Ministry of Education official.

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.

PhoneArena, via ITProPortal and The Chosunilbo