Transcript of "Draft sitrep 5-2011 seoul - schools textbooks to go digital"
MATRADE SEOUL<br />SITREP 5/2011 <br />Korean schools textbooks to go digital<br />Schools to replace textbooks with digital devices by 2015<br />Ministry seeks to hold nationwide academic tests online<br />Thick textbooks weighing on students’ shoulders may disappear in four years. The government seeks to convert all paper textbooks into digital versions by 2015, the Education Ministry said Wednesday.Using smartphones, tablet PCs and smart televisions, school students of all ages will be able to view the content of existing textbooks, ministry officials said.<br />The ministry also seeks to hold nationwide academic tests online, they said. The ministry and the President’s Council on Informatization Strategies reported this plan on “smart education” to President Lee Myung-bak at the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae, they said.In addition to the content of paper textbooks, supplementary materials and two-way study methods will be included in the digital textbooks. Some of the books will be customized to suit the needs of the physically challenged, officials said.The ministry plans to digitize all subjects for elementary school students by 2014 and for middle and high school students by 2015.It also plans to begin increasing online classes in 2013 for three years so that those who cannot come to school due to weather conditions or health problems can continue their studies outside of school.The ministry also plans to encourage students to take the “University-Level Program,” under which students will take college-level courses. Using Internet Protocol Television, it will also run after-school programs to teach foreign languages, multiculturalism and other subjects. To help teachers handle devices for “smart education,” the government plans to begin training teachers in 2012 ― some 25 percent of teachers each year.Citing the best score South Korea garnered in an OECD digital reading survey, the Education Ministry believes that the digital platforms will bring about a sea change in the classroom and boost the country’s educational competitiveness.However, some skeptics said that without any fundamental change in the current university admission policies that have triggered cutthroat competition among students and bloated the private education market, there will not be any meaningful improvement in classrooms. The ministry announced Wednesday that South Korea ranked first in the 2009 Digital Reading Assessment, which was included in the Program for International Student Assessment. PISA is a worldwide evaluation of students’ scholastic performance, conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.In the 2009 DRA, South Korea scored 568 points, far higher than the OECD average of 499. New Zealand and Australia jointly ranked second with 537 points, followed by Japan with 519 points and China with 515 points.<br />Koreans top in digital literacy: OECD data<br />Young South Koreans learn the best from computers and the Internet according to a survey of 15 year-olds in 19 countries, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Monday. The OECD, which groups 34 of the world’s most advanced economies, tested the digital literacy of students in 16 member countries as well as Colombia and the Chinese cities of Hong Kong and Macao as part of its Program for International Assessment.In most countries, the results were in line with the results of a 2009 survey in print reading skills, the OECD said.But students performed “significantly better” in digital reading than print in Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Iceland and Macao, the survey demonstrated. The opposite was true in Poland, Hungary, Chile, Austria, Hong Kong and Colombia.<br />South Korea secured 568 points, 31 points ahead of the runners-up, New Zealand and Australia (both 537 points). Japan was fourth with 519 points, followed by Hong Kong, China, with 515 points.“Korean students are found to have excellent print media reading comprehension and their ability to solve problems using the Internet is even better,” a Seoul Education Ministry official said. “We should turn school education to well adapt to the digital era, so these strong points can be maximized.”The Paris-based OECD said that boys improved their performance when compared to the print survey, but still trailed girls. When using computers, “girls scored an average of 24 points more, compared to a difference of 39 points in print, the equivalent to one year of schooling,” the OECD said.The OECD said computer use at school had a small impact on results, while home-use proved influential.Educators should better integrate computers into curricula and classrooms and policy-makers should invest more “in training teachers to use computers for teaching,” the organization said.“Digital technologies provide a great opportunity to make students more active participants in classroom learning,” Barbara Ischinger, director of education at the OECD said.<br />A. Rashid Mohd Zain<br />Trade Commissioner<br />MATRADE Seoul<br />E-mail: email@example.com <br />Tel : (0072) 739 6812<br />Fax: (0082) 739 6815<br />