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SUBSTITUTING PAPER TEXTBOOKS FOR DIGITAL ONES

SUBSTITUTING PAPER TEXTBOOKS FOR DIGITAL ONES

(Photo by Ahn Young-Joon/AP)                            

Teacher Yeon Eun-jung teaches students using tablet PCs at Sosu Elementary School in Gwesan, South Korea. The country is taking a $2 billion gamble that its students are ready to ditch paper textbooks in favor of tablet PCs as part of a vast digital scholastic network.

France, Singapore, Japan and others are racing to create classrooms where touch-screens provide instant access to millions of pieces of information. But South Korea—Asia's fourth-largest economy—believes it enjoys an advantage over these countries, with kids who are considered the world's savviest navigators of the digital universe.

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.

More than 60 primary, middle and high schools are now using digital textbooks as part of their curriculum, according to the state-run Korea Education and Research Information Service, which provides technical support for the program. Seoul believes it can finish the $2.1 billion program to build a single computer network packed with high-quality digital content by 2015. Replacing textbooks with tablet PCs will account for a quarter of that budget.

But Kim Doo-yeon, a South Korean official leading the project, said his country will have no trouble competing. (more)

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Article by AHN YOUNG-JOON, The Associated Press | Read full article here

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