Published Online: October 17, 2011
Published in Print: October 19, 2011, as S. Korea Outlines Ambitious Plans for All-Digital Scholastic Network

Bits & Bytes

S. Korea Outlines Ambitious Plans for All-Digital Scholastic Network

South Korean youngsters use tablet PCs to study in a class at Sosu Elementary School in Goesan. The country is one of the most wired in the world, with 80 percent of households having broadband access.
—Ahn Young-joon/AP

South Korea 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 other countries 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 those countries, with students who are considered the world’s savviest navigators of the digital universe. A 2009 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group 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.

More than 60 primary, middle, and high schools in South Korea are now using digital textbooks, and education officials in the country believe the $2.1 billion program can be completed by 2015.

Vol. 05, Issue 01, Page 11

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