I’ve been meaning to write about this for a few months since this isn’t a new announcement, but I still feel it deserves to be heard. South Korea decided last summer to invest the equivalent of US $2.4 billion dollars in Samsung Galaxy Tabs for the classroom, switching from textbooks to tablets by the end of 2015.
This means the entire curriculum will be available via tablets, smart phones and computers. The question then becomes, can students learn as well on tablets as they could with textbooks? Will there be greater eye fatigue? Will the smaller tablet screen size inhibit reading speed? Some believe that to really replace textbooks, the screen size will need to be 4x greater than the current tablet size. which of course would no longer be tablets and with current technology, could not be stored in a small configuration. Once tablets can be rolled out and re-bundled after use, then it might make sense.
So South Korea is taking a giant step into the unknown. How will it play out? No one knows, but I suspect that younger generations raised on tablets and not textbooks will adapt relatively easily while older students who have spent all their lives using textbooks will have a difficult time making the adjustment. Let’s keep our eye on this and see if the results bear out.
What we do know is that as each year passes, more and more readers, both young and old, are switching from books to eBooks and this trend is not reversing. I know it sounds difficult to comprehend but I can see the day when physical books will be like music LPs, a collector’s item with very small runs of new works for book aficionados. It’s moving towards a niche field but is still a few years away. Will South Korea be at the forefront or too far ahead of the curve?